We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

The High Sierra Trail: Segment 5 of 7

Kern Hot Spring to Upper Kern Canyon

Content provided by

Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 9.6 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview:  This is the fifth of a series of Guides to the High Sierra Trail, an approximately 70 mile trail that runs from Crescent Meadow on the... more »

Tips:  Campsites
There are plenty of campsites at Kern Hot Spring and Junction Meadow.

Bears are active throughout this stretch - keep... more »

Take this guide with you!

Save to mobile
Get this guide & thousands of others on your mobile phone
EveryTrail guides are created by travelers like you.
  1. 1. Download the EveryTrail app from the App Store
  2. 2. Search for the The High Sierra Trail: Segment 5 of 7 guide
  3. 3. Enjoy your self-guided tour
Get the app

Points of Interest

1. Kern Hot Spring

At night, cold air settles into the Kern Canyon, making for quite a contrast with the heat of the day. If it is too hot to really enjoy the hot spring during the day, a morning visit is perfect!

The hike through the canyon can be extremely hot, but hiking it in the morning allows you to stay in the shade for a long time.

2. Junction Meadow

Soon you'll be climbing into the high country, so if you want one more night in the comfort of the thick forests below treeline, Junction Meadow is it. There are many campsites here and flat area to spread out.

From here, the trail climbs out of the canyon on the start to the long climb to Mount Whitney, 16 miles and net 6500 feet above.

3. Junction - Wallace Creek

The trail from Junction Meadow is hot if hiked mid-day. There is no water access at this junction, even though you can hear the Kern River nearby. The trail is lined with thick manzanita so finding a route over to the water isn't very easy.

From this junction, the High Sierra Trail continues to the right where it will meet the John Muir Trail in... More

4. Water access (off trail)

There is an old sheep herder cabin here, marking a campsite with a scramble down to the water. It's not the easiest water access, but if you drank more than you expected on the hot climb from Junction Meadow, this is a good spot to fill the bottles.