Hiker Symbol for the Kern River Valley Dome Rock

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Hike on top one of the most iconic features of the Western Divide area! The views of The Needles and Kern Plateau are unparalleled!


Dome Rock
Dome Rock; seen from a trail below.

THE STATS

The Needles from Dome Rock
A view of magical granite giants; The Needles.

The Hike Up to Dome Rock

The Western Divide
The Western Divide with Dome Rock.

If you are on the Western Divide Hwy near the hamlet of Ponderosa, you don't want to miss this Dome Rock! This massive dome of solid granite provides an eagle's eye of the mountainous region of the upper Kern drainage.

It is hard to really call this a hike; it's more of a short stroll to a massive viewpoint on the edge of a cliff.

Dome Rock is situated below Slate Mountain south of both Ponderosa and upper Peppermint Creek. Near the end of the short access road, the trail commences at the closed gate and climbs up to the large flat area on the top of the dome.

Walk around for various views, ranging from part of Slate Mountain behind, the tops of the Western Divide Mountains near Mineral King, the mountains of the Kern River Valley, the Kern Plateau, The Upper Kern River Drainage in Sequoia National Park, and of course The Needles.

View of Durrwood, Lookout, Schaeffer Mountains

View of Sherman Massif

Dome Rock looks across the Wild & Scenic Kern River to the expansive Kern Plateau. Left Photo: The Schaeffer Mountain ridge and Lookout Peak are left of the Durrwood Creek Canyon. With binoculars, one can see several large waterfalls coming down Durrwood Creek before it hits the Rincon Trail. Right Photo: The snowy Sherman Massif, with Sherman Peak and Bass Peak sneaking out in the middle. The upper Brush Creek crags are to the right.

Other Hiking Options

Rock climbing use-trails wrap around Dome Rock to access various climbs.

Bear on the road.
A bear foraging on 21S70 near Dome Creek.

Dome Rock Connector:

One can connect to Lloyd Meadow Road near Peppermint Creek Falls via a closed road that has become more of a trail. One way, this route is about 6 miles long. Description & photos here.

To take this route, backtrack on the main Dome Rock Road, 21S69, to road 21S70. This road crosses Dome Creek and eventually narrows with brush, where an old road switchbacks down to the left.

While there used to be a maze of active logging roads in the area, there is one primary route that is still used by hikers and mountain bikers. It is partially maintained. The lower section of this route passes by Peppermint Meadows and has nice views of Upper Peppermint Falls and The Needles. The wild flowers can be excellent as well!

The route can be found on the Kern River Sierra Map.

Dome Rock in the Sequoia National Forest
Rock Climber nearing the top.
Western Divide Mountains
  Headwaters of the Little Kern River.

Directions

From Ponderosa on the Western Divide Hwy/107, drive south almost 2 miles. Turn left on road 21S69 and drive .6 miles to the parking area at the end.

From the Kern River Valley, drive up M99/Sierra Way north along the Kern River. Cross the Kern River and continue up past Johnsondale toward Parker Pass on the M50. Turn right on Hwy 107/Western Divide Hwy and drive 11.6 miles to a fairly obscure road 21S69. Turn right and drive .6 miles to the parking area at the end.

From Parker Pass Drive/M50, drive towards Johnsondale. Turn left on Hwy 107/Western Divide Hwy and drive 11.6 miles to a fairly obscure road 21S69. Turn right and drive .6 miles to the parking area at the end.

21S69/Dome Rock Road is slightly south of the USFS Peppermint Work Center.

Don't Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

This trail and nearby hikes and adventures are depicted on the Kern River Sierra Outdoor Recreation Map, 6th edition:

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Map Details

 

Nearby Trails & Activities

Overview look at Sentinel, Elephant Knob, Dome Rock
A look at the general area from Capital Rock above Johnsondale. An offshoot of Slate Mountain above.