Kern, California, US
|Usual Difficulty||III-V (for normal flows)|
|No. Kern Above Fairview Dam|
|dream-681||400 - 5000 cfs||III-V||01h10m||286 cfs (too low)|
The Forks of the Kern is a classic class V section with outstanding scenery. It
is a popular kayak run and also supports commercial rafting trips. Kayakers tend to do the run in
a single day while the commercial companies stretch it into two or even three days to allow their
customers to savor the experience.
Getting There: Johnsondale Bridge is about 25 minutes north of Kernville and about one hour and 40 minutes from Bakersfield. If coming from the north it is faster to turn off of highway 99 at Earlimart to go through Ducor and California Hot Springs. Allow about one hour and 20 minutes from Earlimart. Sometimes people drive through Springville and up through the Tule River Canyon, but this is a slow drive due to the narrow, windy road. Allow an hour and a half just from Springville, not counting stops for gawking at the Tule canyon.
Put-in: Forks of the Kern trail. From Johnsondale bridge drive west about 4 miles then turn left and follow signs to the Forks trailhead. This road is closed in the winter and opens back up in the spring. The gate is about 3 miles past the junction, just past Camp Whitsett, near Dry Meadow Creek. Call the Kernville office at (760)-376-3781 to find out if the road is open or not. topozone map, google map.
Other Information Sources:
Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Alan Baty
On the Forks Run, the Forest Service operates an advance reservation service in an effort to give boaters a more equal chance of obtaining a permit. The Forks Run is limited to 15 people per day. Permits are required from May 15 through September 15 each year. To obtain a reservation, there is a $10.00 fee to enter the selection process. Applications for a reservation will be made through the mail beginning March 15 each year. The final deadline to submit an application is April 15. Applications will be separated by requested put-in dates, and a drawing will occur for those dates which have an excess of requests. You must notify the Kernville Ranger Station within 7 days of your scheduled trip, if you need to cancel your reservation or if your party size changes.