This photo needs editing.
Difficulty V+
Length 29 Miles
Gauge So. Kings Below Cedar Grove
Flow Range 550 - 600 CFS
Flow Rate as of: 5 years ago ~ 330 [CFS] 👍 ℹ️
Reach Info Last Updated 08/28/2012 6:07 pm

River Description

This reach is now being paddled by a few groups each year.    For most groups it takes a day to hike over Bishop pass to the put in and then several days of paddling on the river.   Of the various late season high Sierra runs, the MF Kings is generally the last to drop into boatable range. 

Wilderness permits are required for overnight travel and must be obtained from Inyo National Forest.     The river runs mostly through Kings Canyon National Park, but forms the boundary of Sierra National Forest and Sequoia National Forest once it leaves Tehipite Valley.   In addition, the national forest section of the river is protected by the Kings River Special Management Area. 

Shuttle Options:  The best option is to get a shuttle driver to drop you off at South Lake and then pick you up at the end.  A northern route goes through Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass.   A southern route uses highway 58 over Tehachapi Pass to connect highways 99 and 395. 

Take Out Options:  There are two basic take out options with variations on the second option.
1)  At the confluence of the middle and south forks, take the Yucca Point trail and climb two steep miles to highway 180.   From here you can conveniently explore the SF Kings river, Cedar Grove, and other parts of Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks.   National park entrance fees are required as you pass through the Grant Grove entrance station.
2)  Garnet Dike is 10 river miles downstream through the wonderful Garlic Falls section.   Garnet Dike is at the end of an 8 mile dirt road, reached by a long, windy, paved road around Pine Flat reservoir.   This is an isolated area with free primitive camping.  There are pit toilets here.
2a) Continue paddling down the class 3 Banzai section to reach paved road near Kirch Flat.   There are many good camp sites along this reach and at Kirch Flat.   While this is an isolated and hot area there is some remarkable exploring available close by along Dinkey Creek, the NF Kings and Big Creek.

Other information Sources:
The 7 Rivers Expedition: Middle Kings River- "Trip of a Lifetime."
The 7 Rivers Expedition: "Whitewater Classics" on the Middle Kings
Middle Kings: 2007    Video by Chris Gragtmans

Middle Fork of the Kings from tim_kelton on Vimeo.

Middle Kings Free in a Day
By Grayson Schaffer       June 20, 2007 [Adventure]
"Yesterday, John Grace and Tommy Hilleke became the first people to run California's Middle Kings River in one day. Their time to hike 11 miles over the 12,000-foot pass and then run 30 miles and 6,400 vertical feet of Class V water: 19 hours 53 minutes."
LVM TV: Middle Fork of the Kings River  
Blog Trip report
A ride through the ringer (MF Kings)   2008 report by Taylor Cavin
Liquid Lore MF Kings: excellent description with photos from 2008 and Google Map waypoints.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
EPA: Federal Register: General Management Plan; Middle and South Forks Kings River
Middle Fork Kings River Gorge - Climber.Org Trip Report  

How to Obtain a Wilderness Permit.pdf (136 KB)


Inyo National Forest
351 Pacu Lane
Suite 200
Bishop, CA 93514

Rapid Descriptions

South Lake Trailhead

Class - N/A Mile - 0

The South Lake trailhead parking area is about 22 miles from Bishop: 15 miles up highway 168, then 7 miles on South Lake Road. 

Bishop Pass

Class - N/A Mile - 5
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This is the high point of the hike and will have snow.

Dusy Branch confluenc

Class - N/A Mile - 11
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Start of actual kayaking, but typically very low with lots of junk and portages till side streams bring in more water. 

SF confluence

Class - N/A Mile - 40
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The SF Kings enters from the south and generally doubles the flow.   The Yucca Point trail on river left, climbs 2 miles up to Highway 180.   Some groups end their trip here while some continue downstream.

Garnet Dike

Class - N/A Mile - 50
Rapid Thumbnail Missing

This is the end of the 8 mile dirt road that comes up along the river and it is the launching area for the class 3 Banzai section.  The commercial outfitters will be ending their operations by this time.   There are pit toilets here. 


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Paul Martzen
9 years ago

Liquid Lore website has an excellent write up with photos

Gage Descriptions

Daily Flows Realtime Flows Dreamflows Home
Show 30 Days
Show 3 Years

Flows on the middle fork at the confluence with the south fork should be about half of that shown on the graph above. Flows at the beginning of the run, will be far less.


A general consensus seems to be that flows of 1100 to 1200 cfs at Rodgers Crossing are ideal to be starting the run, but that lower flows are better for the Bottom Nine miles to the confluence with the South Fork.   Flows vary during the day and by changes in temperature, so boaters must be capable of dealing with a wide range of flows.


Directions Description


A northern route goes through Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass.  From Bishop go north on highway 395 to Lee Vining, then take highway 120 over Tioga Pass.  Drive into Yosemite Valley and take 41 south to fresno to 180. 

A southern route uses highway 58 over Tehachapi Pass to connect highways 99 and 395.

Date Flow Result Factor  
2019-08-14 n/a Near Miss/Rescue Read More




Paul Martzen


Thomas O'Keefe


Matt Muir


Revision #Revision DateAuthorComment
1199042 12/14/10 Paul Martzen gauge info, links, updates
1201556 08/28/12 Thomas O'Keefe abstract and photo added
1190021 09/04/08 n/a n/a
1197174 01/27/10 Paul Martzen