Kennedy Meadows - Pacific Crest Trail


Kennedy Meadows provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail at the south end of South Sierra Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail stretches over 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washing-ton. Thousands of hikers and equestrians enjoy the trail each year. Some travel a few miles, while others com-plete the entire trail in a single season.

Traveling north from Kennedy Meadows Trailhead, the PCT passes through South Sierra Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness, and then Sequoia National Park. For the first few miles, the trail is adjacent to the South Fork of the Kern River. After leaving the South Fork of the Kern River, water may be scarce. The trail starts in arid pinyon and juniper woodlands, then gains elevation and enters forests of Jeffrey and foxtail pines. Although the PCT is generally well maintained, other trails in the area are not and may be difficult to locate.

Download area map for trail names

Kennedy Meadows - Pacific Crest Trail Recreation Guide (pdf)

At a Glance

Permit Info:
  • Wilderness Permits are optional in the South Sierra Wilderness, but are strongly recommended.
  • Trips traveling north of Olancha Peak into Golden Trout Wilderness require a permit.
  • Permits are issued at Sequoia or Inyo National Forest visitor centers.
Closest Towns:
  • Kennedy Meadows Store (food and water)
  • Kernville, CA (gas, food, lodging)
  • Ridgecrest, CA (full service, hospital)
Water: Natural water sources should be treated before drinking
Information Center: Sequoia National Forest- Kernville 760-376-3781 Inyo National Forest- Lone Pine- Eastern Sierra Interagency Visitor Center 760-876-6200 Maps: Tom Harrison Maps: South Sierra Wilderness, Golden Trout Wilderness USGS Quads: Long Canyon, Crag Peak, Monache Mountain, Haiwee Pass, Templeton Mtn., Olancha, Cirque Peak

General Information

General Notes:

Note to Stock Users:

Do not exit at Haiwee Pass Trail. It is not recommended for stock travel. The Haiwee Pass trail was subject to a wildfire and flood events in 2010. As a result, mud and debris cover the old trail and there are steep gullies where there used to be a trail. An alternative trail for an eastside Sierra exit is the Olancha Pass Trail.


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.


From US 395, north of Ridgecrest, CA, exit highway 395 near Pearsonville and travel west on Nine Mile Canyon Rd (paved road) to Kennedy Meadows.



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