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 »western side of the Sierra Nevada to Whitney Portal on the eastern slope. Each segment roughly corresponds to a day on the trail. This Guide describes Segment 5 of 7: Kern Hot Spring to Upper Kern Canyon.
This is a simple and easy stretch at the midpoint of the High Sierra Trail. The trail parallels the Kern River, climbing gradually through the Canyon. Although this stretch can be extremely hot mid-day, the high canyon walls keep the bottom of the canyon in the shade for a large part of the morning.
The trail wiggles up and down, sometimes running right against the river, other times climbing a bit above it. You'll have plenty of water access so there is no worry about running out through here.
Approximately eight miles from the Hot Spring you'll reach Junction Meadow, the not-so-cleverly named open space where other the High Sierra Trail meets the trail to Colby Pass and other destinations to the west. There are many campsites at Junction Meadow.
From here, the trail follows the right fork of the Kern River and starts to climb. Switchbacking through granite and manzanita, the sun is intense and hot along this stretch, but before too long you'll reach the junction to Wallace Creek. The High Sierra Trail continues to the right with a sign informing you of the short 14.8 miles left until Mount Whitney. there are a few campsites if you continue straight towards Upper Kern Basin. less «