Kings, Middle Fork - Dusy Branch to S. Fork confluence

Kings, Middle Fork, California, US


Dusy Branch to S. Fork confluence

Usual Difficulty V+ (for normal flows)
Length 29 Miles
Avg. Gradient 240 fpm

Middle Fork Kings Canyon

Middle Fork Kings Canyon
Photo of Middle Fork Kings Canyon by Eric Henrickson taken 05/23/07

Gauge Information

Name Range Difficulty Updated Level
So. Kings Below Cedar Grove
dream-455 550 - 600 cfs V+ 3y258d14h40m ~ 330 cfs (too low)

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

Permit Information

Wilderness Permits are required for overnight camping. Permits can be obtained from the Inyo National Forest office in Bishop. Phone 760-873-2400 No permit is needed to run the river.

StreamTeam Status: Not Verified
Last Updated: 2012-08-28 18:07:00


Rapid Summary

Mile Rapid Name Class Features (Legend)
0.0South Lake TrailheadN/AAccess Portage Photo
5.0Bishop PassN/APortage
11.0Dusy Branch confluencN/APutin
40.0SF confluenceN/AAccess
50.0Garnet DikeN/ATakeout

Rapid Descriptions

South Lake Trailhead (Class N/A)

Middle Fork Kings Canyon

Middle Fork Kings Canyon
Photo of Middle Fork Kings Canyon by Eric Henrickson taken 05/23/07

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 5.0)

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

Dusy Branch confluenc (Class N/A, Mile 11.0)

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 40.0)

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 50.0)

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. 

User Comments

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December 13 2010 (2961 days ago)
Paul MartzenDetails
Liquid Lore website has an excellent write up with photos