DAY FOUR on the High Sierra Trail we hiked straight north up the Kern River – a gorgeous 10 mile, 2,000 vertical foot, gentle-but-steady ascent from 6,000 feet to 8,000 feet.
Heading up the east side about two miles up the trail you arrive at Kern Hot Springs – an actual hot spring with a concrete tub that allows for 110-120 degree bathing! When we arrived early morning, the campground was pretty full with a big group of fly fishermen. The tub was occupied and there was a waiting list – so no hot bath today. Kevin and his gang stopped there later and said it was marvelous!
The hike up the Kern valley was gorgeous, varying from rocks and sand to heavy ferns and big trees. As we got higher and closer to Junction Meadow, there were a number of challenging stream crossings. I slipped and got a shoe wet on one, and then we both had to cross with shoes on during another deep and fast one. Good thing it was a warm day, where we could dry the shoes out later at Junction Meadow. We always took the ‘better safe than sorry’ approach with stream crossings. If it looks hairy, plow straight through!
We arrived at Junction Meadow about 1:30 p.m., and the campground sits right on the junction of the Kern River and another stream (Wright Creek I think). Anyway, gorgeous spot – we even had a solo hiker come in and do some fly fishing there. The early arrival gave us a chance to do some clothes washing (4-day stink was getting noticeable) and dry out our shoes.
Kevin, Amber and Bart arrived around 4:30. We made a fire, ate dinner together and entertained visiting deer. The sound of the Kern was a great way to doze off later that night.
Spending the day hiking up the Kern River valley was a great reminder of how big and important that river is – and how much water it pushes through the park to eventually become Lake Isabella and hydrate a big chunk of California.
Back at 8,000 feet, we prepared to do another almost 3,000 feet of climbing and join the John Muir Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail the next day.
High Sierra Trail: Upper Funston Meadow to Junction Meadow
Trail Map & Elevation Profile
- Continue to Day 5 on the High Sierra Trail, hiking from Junction Meadow to Crabtree Meadow.
- Go back to Day 3 on the High Sierra Trail.
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Hi, i just found your post. Nice to find good info on the High Sierra Trail. We did 43 miles last year (2017), from Cottonwood north thru rock creek to whitney and out whitney portal, 6 days.
We want do the HST this coming 2018 summer. I am wanting/hoping to go back to Rock Creek by the ranger station, then go up Rock creek trail to miter basin.
Do you know or have heard if there is a way to go from the Kern river directly up Rock Creek without having to go all the way around the trail loop from kern river to pct south back to rock creek thru Guyot pass?
I used to live near the Rock Creek ranger cabin in 1983 as part of a CCC back country trail crew. We couldnt find the camp site this past summer. I want to try again, plus spend a day in Miter Basin, where we used to hike in ’83.
I re-read what i just wrote… to clarify, i want to go up Rock Creek directly from the kern river, so we have time to spend near the Rock Creek Ranger Cabin and Miter Basin, instead of 2 days og hiking up the kern then head back south back to rock creek.
Thanks so much!!
Can you help?