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Kern River Upper to Rincon Trail

  5.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


13.4 mile 21.5 kilometer out and back
90% Runnable


Ascent: 1,831' 558 m
Descent: -1,829' -557 m
High: 5,206' 1,587 m
Low: 3,773' 1,150 m


Avg Grade: 5% (3°)
Max Grade: 23% (13°)


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Trail shared by Jeff Groehler

Remote locations with solitude.

Jeff Groehler

Features Birding · Cave · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers


This featured run is basically a 30+ mile out-and-back from the Johnsondale Bridge to the "Forks of the Kern" -- 15+ miles each way. It includes the "Kern River Upper Trail" 33E30 and the "Rincon Trail" 33E23. Remember those numbers. Write them down. And research these trails online before you go.

Just take the Kern River Upper Trail from the bridge to the Rincon Trail and then make a left. There are signs at this T-intersection -- one is nailed to an oak tree and the other should be tacked onto a tree that has fallen over.

Great for an overnight mini backpacking trip or an extremely difficult 50k-ish distance run. Bringing a water filter is definitely recommended, unless you want to carry enough water for the entire trip. There should be a few opportunities to get water from the Kern River if you filter it before you drink it. They sell filters at REI.

If you are looking to spend a day or two in the wilderness, this is great way to literally get away from civilization. The turnaround point is 15+ miles out from the nearest road. Make sure you have a buddy to go along with you just in case of an emergency; it's a very remote area. Even the starting is miles from the nearest cell service.

Need to Know

Bring lots of water. There could possibly be sections at the beginning where you may not be able to get through during certain times of the year when the river is swollen from snowmelt runoff. It's rocky in places.

Once you get to the Rincon Trail, you'll notice how remote it feels. Definitely be prepared for possible encounters with wildlife.

There's an old mining cave that goes in about 50 yards or so 5 miles in if you're into that kind of thing.


This trail isn't on a lot of trail apps, but if you follow the trail along the river from the bridge and keep an eye out for a singletrack going up a small canyon about 0.75 miles in, you'll find a trail that connects the river trail to the Rincon Trail. And if you make it to the intersection of the Rincon Trail (6-ish miles in) and have the desire for another 10 miles, you can make it to the "Forks of the Kern"!

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We need help with the following missing trail information:

Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna, Runner Notes, History & Background


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in California


18 Views Last Month
271 Since Jun 1, 2019



In the middle of the wilderness
Jul 3, 2019 near Kernville, CA
Dry Creek meets the Kern River
Jul 3, 2019 near Kernville, CA
Signage at the t intersection of the two trails
Jul 3, 2019 near Kernville, CA
Inside the cave looking out
Jul 3, 2019 near Kernville, CA


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