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The High Sierra Trail: Segment 4 of 7

Moraine Lake to Kern Hot Spring

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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 6.9 miles
Duration: Full day

Overview :  This is the fourth of a series of Guides to the High Sierra Trail, an approximately 70 mile trail that runs from Crescent Meadow on... more »

Tips:  Campsites
The best location for camping in the Kern Canyon is at Kern Hot Spring but you will be sharing the area with other people.... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake's beauty shines at sunrise, so if camped here, don't miss it!

Fill all your water bottles here before departing. Although on paper this next stretch looks easy since it is all descent, it is very hot, dry, and exposed. There is no water access until the bottom of the canyon.

2. Junction (High Sierra Trail forks)

This is where the two forks of the High Sierra Trail join back together. Take in the view at Sky Parlor meadow and prepare for the upcoming steep descent.

The upcoming terrain is friendly to rattlesnakes, so watch out!

3. Junction (Kern Canyon)

After the steep descent into Kern Canyon you'll reach this trail junction. If you turn to the right you'll be able to access a campsite at Upper Funston Meadow. This campsite is overused by horse packers and not in the greatest condition.

To continue on the High Sierra Trail go through the gate to your left. It is about a mile to water.

4. Chagoopa Creek Crossing

After the long, hot descent you'll enjoy this creek crossing. The trail between the junction and here has some stretches of foot-bruising and ankle-twisting cobblestone so the opportunity to soak your feet might be irresistible.

You'll hear Chagoopa Falls above you but you won't see it from here. Once you've gone a short distance and emerged... More

5. Bridge

The Kern River rushes through the canyon and you might wonder how you will be able to cross it. Well no fear - there is a nice bridge that crosses the river about 1/2 mile before the hot spring.

This is another easy place to get water. Enjoy the open views through the canyon - Chagoopa Falls, the granite walls, the rushing river.

It is hot in ... More

6. Kern Hot Spring

The Kern Hot Spring is a natural hot spring a few feet from the Kern River. The water from the spring is 115 degree F (46 degrees C)and there is a basic concrete tub built near the source. There is a larger pool in between the hot spring and the river that allows the water to mix to a more comfortable temperature.

After a few days on the trail... More