Kern - 5) Sandy Flat to Democrat Hot Springs (Miracle Run)

Kern, California, US


5) Sandy Flat to Democrat Hot Springs (Miracle Run)

Usual Difficulty III-V (for normal flows)

White Maidens: lower half

White Maidens: lower half
Photo by Paul Martzen taken 07/29/06 @ 1,900 cfs

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
Kern Rel Lake Isabella
dream-105 500 - 5000 cfs III-V 00h24m 304 cfs (too low)

River Description

This is a scenic section of the Kern that is especially popular because it has dependable flows through the summer months.    There are steep and exciting class 3 to 4 drops spread evenly over the run, but there are also long sections of slow scenic floating.  The clean granite cliffs along much of the reach are beautiful and impressive.   There are also several hot springs along the run, but most are on private property.

Permits are required for each boat that goes down  the river.   Permits must be picked up in person at the ranger station.   Rangers usually monitor the put in. 

Put in:  Miracle Hot Springs area offers plenty of day use parking,  There will usually be a ranger there to check your permits and give advice.   google map.

Take out:  A good gravel road leads from the main highway down to the Democrat Take out.  There are signs at the turn off.   There is a parking area for private boaters on the right.   There are toilets but no potable water at the take out.   There are a few picnic tables over looking the river.   The take out ramp is shared by commercial outfitters, and private boaters.   Vehicles can park near the ramp for loading only.   Buses need to turn around so leave plenty of space for everybody.  google map.

Other Information Sources:

Kern River Festival
Kern River Alliance
Kern Valley River Council
Audubon, Kern River Preserve
Wild and Scenic Kern
Sequoia National Forest Kernville office phone # 760-376-3781
Sierra South store

Cassady & Calhoun, Holbek & Stanley, Alan Baty

FERC relicensing of Borel Powerhouse:    The Borel powerhouse project received a new federal license in May of 2006.   The powerhouse generates electricity and profits from a public resource, the Kern river.    Project licenses can run 30 to 50 years and must undergo a public process whenever they are renewed.   The public has the right to impose conditions on the project in exchange for the use of the public resource.  

As part of the new license issued by FERC on May 17, 2006, SCE is mandated to release boatable flows into upstream bypassed reach.

The Kern WaterMaster and the Kern Water Users (several irrigation districts and the city of Bakersfield) have strongly objected to this license condition. They are pressuring SCE, the Forest Service and the outfitters into accepting capital improvements at the Democrat take out rather than supplemental boating flows in this reach.    A compromise solution that involved SCE helping to fund improvements to the Kernville whitewater park along with Democrat improvements was discussed, but fell through in January of 2009 when SCE and AW did not reach a final agreement. 

The FERC project number is P-382. Documents about this project can be found on the web at using the ‘‘RIMS’’ link, select ‘‘Docket#’’ and follow the instructions (call 202–208–2222 for assistance).

Links to important documents:
Extension of Time for boating release agreement.
Objections of Kern Water Users to boating flows
New license doucument, Granted May 17, 2008
Army Corp objections to boating releases
Comments by American Whitewater and Sierra Club

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2016-08-22 18:37:22

Rapid Descriptions

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