backcountry skiing snowboarding in the  Kern River Valley, Kernville, Southern Sierra Winter Backcountry Sports

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Fresh Tracks in the Kern River Sierra

Sherman Peak and the Southern Kern Plateau
Sherman Peak and the southern Kern Plateau.

Snow Art

Winter recreation is almost unlimited in the Southern Sierra. Its one of the only places in the entire world where you can ski powder, kayak waterfalls, mountain bike epic singletrack, rock climb, and even kiteboard on the same day.

The closest lift-accessed snow is only 10 miles from the Lake. The Alta Sierra Ski Resort is up in the Greenhorn Mountains above Wofford Heights. It caters primarily to beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders, and is very popular with families.

Nearby, backcountry skiers and snowboarders seek out the powder stashes, while cross country skiers and snowshoers explore the mountains.

Telemark Skiing Kern River Sierra backcountry Sunset
Carving ultra light powder on the Kern Plateau. A Greenhorn sunset at Alta Sierra Ski Resort.

Dont Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

XC Ski access points are on the 2019 Kern River Sierra adventure map:

Amazon.com

Buy Locally

Map Details

Now Available: Get the Digital Version of the Map on the Avenza App.

Get this map on Avenza Maps!

Or click here for the full Extremeline Map Store on Avenza.  

Backcountry Skiing and snowboarding

Snowshoeing up the Greenhorns
Snowshoeing up to a secret forested powder stash.

The Greenhorns have some of the closest powder to the Kern River Valley and west side foothill towns.

You'll want to get it quick before the sun hits it! The area near Alta Sierra has some nice tree skiing, while further north towards Portuguese Pass sometimes has double the snow.

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular at Greenhorn Summit, where the nearby roads are sometimes groomed for recreation.

Snowmobilers access the area via Hwy 155 and take the sometimes-groomed Portuguese Pass Road.

Commencing at the Sand Shed at Greenhorn Pass, this route cuts across the Greenhorns north to Johnsondale, and continues to Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen.

Another access point is near Sugarloaf on the west side, above Posey.

Groomers near Greenhorn Summit Skiing powder in sequoia national forest
Groomed XC ski runs at Greenhorn Summit. Off the beaten track.

Check Sequoia National Forest Facebook page for updates on grooming.

Kern Plateau - Sherman Pass & Kennedy Meadows areas

Sherman Peak looking west to the kern river
Getting ready to splitboard down 3,000 vertical feet of corn snow.

At 9,000 - 10,000 feet in elevation, the Sherman Pass Area can get a lot of powder. In peak winter months, one can ski almost anywhere above 7-8,000 feet, especially if you have a snowmobile.

This area, part of the Kern Plateau, is accessed from the East near Kennedy Meadows, or from Kernville via Sherman Pass Road.

If driving from Kernville, take Sierra Way/Mtn Hwy 99 north 19 miles, turn right and drive up Sherman Pass Road until you hit snow. The lower portion of the road is sometimes plowed, while the higher section is sometimes groomed. It may be best to call the USFS Kernville office to get an update on the road conditions and grooming activity.

Sequoia National Monument

Another great source of powder is near Jordan Peak, out of the Camp Nelson and Springville area. Some of the roads are groomed; its popular with snowmobilers.

Ponderosa is also popular with snowmobilers and recieves a ton of snow! With numerous roads in the area, there are many options for recreation. See the Kern River Sierra map for help in planning your adventure!

Tele Turns in Powder
Powder destruction.
on the Top
Summiting a peak somewhere past Sherman Pass.

And there's always the Piutes too!

Write-ups on some of the backcountry options are on Sierra Sojourner blog, and Southern Sierra Outdoors blog.

Skinning up
Earning turns. Skinning up on tele skis.

Carve it baby
A storm rider shred session up on the Kern Plateau.

Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

XC Skiing in the Giant Sequoias
The best way to experience the Trail of 100 Giants. Spring xc skiing in the Giant Sequoias.
Skiing up Sherman Pass
XC Skiing on Sherman Pass Road.

In the Greenhorns, one of the most popular spots to cross country ski is from the Sand Shed at Greenhorn Summit. Portuguese Pass Road and the dirt roads around Unal Trail are also excellent options. If you are coming from the west-side, the Sugarloaf area has good access.

Cross Country Skiing
An afternoon ski near Greenhorn Summit.

Further north, Sherman Pass Pass Road provides a scenic workout. It is usually plowed past Cherry Hill Road to the parking area at Sherman Pass 4x4 Road, or beyond. The USFS is now grooming all the snowmobile trails on the Kern Plateau!

Another wonderful spot to explore is Johnsondale. The road is closed and unplowed just beyond R Ranch.

If you are coming from the Northwest, there are excellent skiing access and groomed roads near Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen.

 

Dont Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

XC Ski access points are on the 2019 Kern River Sierra adventure map:

Amazon.com

Buy Locally

Map Details

Now Available: Get the Digital Version of the Map on the Avenza App.

Get this map on Avenza Maps!

Or click here for the full Extremeline Map Store on Avenza.  

Whiskey Flat Trail XC Ski near Greenhorn Pass
A rare snowy day on the Whiskey Flat Trail. Skiing the groomed Portuguese Pass Rd.
Powder
A local secret spot. Its deep. Go find your own!