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Golden Trout Creek Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.0 (1)

From the high meadows of Golden Trout Wilderness, along Golden Trout Creek, to dramatic canyons and the Kern River.


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Map Key

9.1

Miles

14.6

KM

Point to Point

8,931' 2,722 m

High

6,329' 1,929 m

Low

73' 22 m

Up

2,676' 816 m

Down

6%

Avg Grade (3°)

51%

Max Grade (27°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Commonly Backpacked · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife

Description

Golden Trout Creek Trail starts where Trail Pass Trail #3504 ends. It descends for its entire length, from the high meadows of Golden Trout Wilderness, to the Kern River and Sequoia National Park boundary.

Golden Trout Creek Trail starts on a low ridge. Below to the left is the South Fork Kern River that Trail Pass Trail #3504 followed to arrive here. Golden Trout Creek is in the valley below to the right. From here, Golden Trout Creek Trail quickly passes two trails on the left, and veers right to cross Golden Trout Creek.

Golden Trout Creek Trail follows Golden Trout Creek downstream for its entire length until the creek empties into the Kern River. Sometimes the trail is next to the creek, and elsewhere not as close, but it is always there. Thus, there are plenty of good water sources and the terrain is not so dry. Undergrowth is thicker, there can be mud, and meadows are grassier.

After crossing Golden Trout Creek, the trail moves away from the creek temporarily as it enters the drier fir forest. At the 1.1 mile mark Volcano Meadow Trail splits off on the left. Soon Golden Trout Creek can be heard to the left, and then it appears next to the trail at the 2 mile mark. Vegetation becomes lusher as the trail runs next to the creek and a few small side streams are crossed.

Descending gradually, the creek grows as it collects water from the side streams. It is a pretty creek in pretty woods, making for pleasant hiking in the shade. At the 4 mile mark, with a sign pointing to the Kern River, the trail turns left to cross the creek. The creek also turns left here, and together the trail and creek head southwest toward the Kern River.

Now to the right, the creek is down in a valley that becomes deeper with steeper, rockier sides as both trail and creek descend. To the left are forests and small meadows on gently rising hillsides. At the 6.6 mile mark, the trail crosses Malpais Creek on a natural bridge. This is quite an interesting feature and it's worth some time to admire it. Malpais Creek cascades down to empty into Golden Trout Creek not far from here.

By now the creek is far below the trail in a rocky canyon. Impressive cliffs of the canyon's far side are seen to the right. After passing the Natural Bridge, the trail descends more steeply and soon reaches a long stretch of rocky, open switchbacks down the Kern Canyon cliffs to the Kern River.

A final 0.6 mile hike on the Kern Canyon floor brings one to the Lower Kern Bridge where this trail ends.

Flora & Fauna

Thin fir forest mainly. A few grassy meadows. And a final open, rocky descent to the Kern River. Deer and bears live here. On the final rocky, sunny switchbacks down to the Kern River there can be rattlesnakes - be careful, wear several thick layers below knees, bang those hiking poles against the rocks to scare them off....

Contacts

Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#18909

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Trail Rankings

#2,025

in California

#18,909

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4 Views Last Month
10 Since May 9, 2022
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Photos

The pretty Kern River seen from the east end of the Lower Kern Bridge.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
Looking up Kern Canyon from the switchbacks on the east side of the canyon, that take Golden Trout Creek Trail down to the Kern River at the canyon bottom.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
The Lower Kern Bridge from its west end. Kern River below, east side Kern Canyon cliffs rising 2,000 feet. Tower Rock, 8.469 ft. (center left) towers over the bridge.
May 11, 2022 near Three R…, CA
Golden Trout Creek in Golden Trout Wilderness, Inyo National Forest. Named for the official California state freshwater fish.
May 11, 2022 near Lone Pine, CA
Kern Peak from Ramshaw Meadow.
Feb 13, 2021 near Lone Pine, CA
Tunnel Meadow
Feb 13, 2021 near Lone Pine, CA

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May 2, 2022
Joan Pendleton