Blackrock Trail


Beginning on the southern border of the Golden Trout Wilderness, the Black Rock Trail goes to Casa Vieja Meadow and Jordan Hot Springs as it passes through rugged terrain desending to the Wild and Scenic section of the Kern River near Soda Flat.

The distance to the Kern River is 9.2 miles, with a significant loss of elevation. The hike back to the trailhead is long and uphill. In summer, the area may be quite hot during the day, and surprisingly cold at night.

In the Golden Trout Wilderness small streams meander through tree rimmed meadows. The area is named after California’s brightly colored state fish. The golden trout (Onchorhynchus mykiss aguabonita) is a subspecies of rainbow trout that is native to this area.

Common Destinations: Golden Trout Wilderness

Download area map for trail names

Blackrock Trailhead Recreation Guide (pdf)

At a Glance

Permit Info: Wilderness Permits are required for overnight trips into the Golden Trout Wilderness. Permits are issued at the following locations:
  • Blackrock Ranger Station, located 7 miles south of the Blackrock Trailhead. Open May through October, Thursday through Monday, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.  Permits may be self-issued after hours.  (559) 539-2607 ext 276
  • Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitors Center, in Lone Pine, CA. at the junction of Hwy 395 and SR 136. (760) 876-6200.
Open Season: Road Closed in Winter
  • Food and refuse must be stored in a bear proof container OR counter balanced 15 feet above the ground and 10 from the tree trunk
  • Maximum group size: 15 people
  • Maximum number of stock: 25
  • Golden Trout Wilderness regulations apply.
Closest Towns:
  • Kernville, CA (food, gas, lodging)
  • Ridgecrest, CA (full service)
Water: Water from creeks, lakes and springs should be treated before drinking.
Restroom: Please Leave No Trace. Bury human waste away from water sources.
Information Center: For wilderness permit information call (760) 873-2483; or for area information call the Kern River Ranger District, Sequoia National Forest: (760) 376-3781; or the Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center: (760) 876-6200. Walk-in campsites with outhouse, tent pads, and corrals are located at the trailhead. Water is available at Blackrock Information Station, located approximately 7 miles south of the trailhead.

General Information

  • From US 395, north of Ridgecrest, CA, travel west on Nine Mile Canyon Rd to Kennedy Meadows.
  • At Kennedy Meadows, turn left onto Highway J41.
  • Turn right onto Forest Road 21S03.
  • The Blackrock Ranger Station is located on the right.
  • The trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 21S03, seven miles north of Blackrock Ranger Station.

General Notes:

Camping with Stock in Golden Trout Wilderness

Grazing & Public Pastures:

There is a fenced pasture for stock grazing at both Casa Vieja Meadows and Jordan Hot Springs. The public pasture at Casa Vieja Meadows is the more westerly of the two fenced areas in the meadow. At Jordan Hot Springs, the public pasture is the fenced area uphill of the main trail. Casa Vieja Meadows is typically open for grazing in mid-July each year, and Jordan Hot Springs typically opens in mid-June.

Summer Grazing of Stock

Meadows and other vegetated areas, if grazed too early in the summer, can interrupt the necessary growth stages of grasses. If these grasses are grazed too early, their ability to re-seed is hindered. This can reduce the amount of stock feed available to backcountry users throughout the summer season. Grazing in these areas too early, even once, can have lasting impacts. In addition, areas grazed too early may be particularly susceptible to trampling and chiseling by hooves, due the high soil moisture content. These impacts by stock hooves can also alter the natural growing process.

  • PLEASE GRAZE YOUR STOCK ONLY AFTER THE RANGE READINESS DATE. Prior to the range readiness dates, you should feed pellets, cubes or grain and avoid grazing to protect the meadows. Another option is to reschedule your trip for a later date. Contact your local Ranger Station to inquire about the current range readiness date. This date is generally available by mid-May of every year.

  • Weed-free Hay: Using weed-free hay helps reduce the spread of noxious weeds. Weed-free hay fed to stock a minimum of 72 hours prior to, and during your trip into the wilderness, will avoid the introduction of noxious weeds to the backcountry. Noxious weeds can out-compete native vegetation, and this can have lasting effects on wildlife health and diversity. The presence of weeds may also interfere and replace the native grasses used for stock grazing.

  • Portable Electric Fences: If you are using an electric fence please rotate the fence on a daily basis or in accordance with the condition (wet or dry) of the meadow. Do not overgraze any one area—spread out your stock use when grazing in meadows.

Holding Stock in Camp

The use of high lines, pickets and hobbles are practices that will cause the least amount of impact to the wilderness. High lines are the preferred method for restraining stock in camp because it prevents horses from trampling the root systems around trees. High lines should be located in an area of rock or dry, hardened ground. Avoid tying horses to trees. If tying to trees only do so for a short period of time. Horse lead ropes can girdle trees and hoof pawing will create unnatural dishes at the base of trees.

General Notes:

Topographic Maps:

  • USGS Quad:     Casa Vieja Meadows
  • Tom Harrison: Golden Trout Wilderness

To purchase maps and guidebooks goto

WARNING! The trail section from Casa Vieja Meadows to the Kern River continues to feel the effects from a wildfire in 2002. Fallen trees across the trails may make travel difficult along the Jordan Hot Springs to Red Rock trail and the Soda Flat to Sidehill Meadow trail. In addition, trees weakened by wildfire pose a serious risk for injury. Proceed with caution when you walk, stop and camp in burned areas!

Search and Rescue events happen frequently on this trail due to exhaustion, overheating and dehydration. The return trip from the Kern River and Jordan Hot Springs to Blackrock Trailhead is extremely challenging. The trail from the river back to the trailhead climbs from 5,200 feet to 8,900 in five miles. Please keep this in mind as you plan your trip.

Campsite Selection:

Please choose an existing campsite more than 100 feet from water. At Jordan Hot Springs, please camp more than 100 feet from any of the historic structures.

Creek Crossings:

There are eight creek crossings between Casa Vieja Meadows and the Kern River. The streams may have high flows during snow melt or following thunderstorms.

For current trail conditions, inquire at the Blackrock Ranger Station,  (559)539-2607 ext 276.

General Notes:



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