Hiker Symbol for the Kern River ValleySalmon Creek Falls Trail

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A remote hike to the edge of the Kern Plateau near Horse Meadow.

The Salmon Creek Teacups
Looking at the Salmon Creek Teacups from just above Salmon Creek Falls.

THE STATS

  • 4.6+ miles total.
  • 8.7 miles hike from Horse Meadow.
  • 900 feet of climbing.
  • Up & back trail.
  • Swimming Holes
  • Fishing
  • Climbing
  • Kern Plateau near Big Meadow, Cannell Meadow, and Kernville
  • Sequoia National Forest

UPDATE Fall 2014: The Salmon Creek Trail to the top of the waterfall has been cleared and brushed!

The Hike

Salmon Creek Falls Trail Sign

The Trailhead.

Near Horse Meadow, Salmon Creek flows through lushly vegetated forest and granite slides and pools and then suddenly drops off the edge of the Kern Plateau. After a series of breathtaking waterfalls, including the highest in the Southern Sierras, it merges with the Kern River.

A pleasant hike through the forest above the banks of Salmon Creek, leads to the trail's end where the terrain steepens. At this point, there are plenty of adventurous options. Some hikers may want to simply enjoy the sounds of the rushing water and the framed views across to Baker Point. Those with strong scrambling and rock climbing skills could climb the granite hill to the right (north) to get a view of Upper Salmon Creek Falls. Fisherman and swimmers can scramble down to the left (south) to the teacups.

Top of Salmon Creek Falls, highest waterfall in the southern sierra

Near the top of Salmon Creek Falls. Viewing from a primitive campsite on an old trail above creek left.

The Details

During the first mile of the hike, the trail traverses a pine and fir forest above the Salmon Creek Canyon. At one point, it climbs before very steeply descending down toward the creek. If you happened to notice passing a fainter trail that follows a gully; this is an easier way. However, its not maintained.

Above the Upper Salmon Creek Falls Hiker on Salmon Creek Falls Trail

Where the trail ends, but the
adventure continues.

Hiking the forested 2.3 mile section of trail.

After crossing the creek, enjoy the nice pine-needle padded trail along the creek. As the trail sees more and more sun, it will start to climb up to the viewpoint and trail terminus. Some cairns help along the way.

Salmon Creek Falls

Salmon Creek Falls as seen from far below; from the Rincon Trail.

As mentioned above, there are several options to explore the area.

Salmon Creek Falls Trail flowers

Some of the delights of the trail.

In the spring the water flows are the highest, but the low summer flows are perfect for lounging in the small teacup pools.

According to J.C. Jenkins "Self Propelled in the Southern Sierra," Salmon Creek Falls is the highest waterfall in the southern sierra. This Yosemitesque creek has inspired adventure and exploration for years (See Canyoneering here).

Salmon Creek Trail
The trail above the Salmon Creek canyon. Looking east to the crags above Horse Mdw.

Options

Several other hikes are nearby including:

  • Salmon Creek Trail from Horse Meadow (adds 2 miles each way to the hike)
  • Deadwood Trail
  • Salmon Creek Area Trails
  • Cannell Meadow Trail
  • Sirretta Peak Trail
  • Manter Meadow
  • Cannell Peak
  • See also Rincon Trail lower in elevation.

Great rock climbing, bouldering, and mountain biking also abounds in this area.

Trailhead

Hiker on Salmon Creek Falls Trail

Salmon Creek Falls Trail.

Salmon Creek Falls Trailhead: From Kernville, drive north about 19 miles on Mtn 99, and turn right on Sherman Pass Road, 22S05. Drive up this and turn right on paved Cherry Hill Road, 22S12, and drive for 9.6 miles. Pass the road to Horse Meadow Campground and the Deadwood Trail, and then turn right on dirt road 23S08. Take this 4 miles. There is a dirt parking area at the end of the dirt road, near the Salmon Creek Falls Trail sign.

Horse Meadow Campground Trailhead: Follow the same directions above, except turn right on Horse Meadow Road. Descend just over a mile to the campground area, and park below the campground off a righthand turn. There is a restroom and a trail sign, although the trail is fairly faint/lower use in this area. The trail adds about 4 miles to the described hike.

Dont Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

This trail and optional routes are depicted on the local adventure map:

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Map Details