[content courtesy of the Outdoor Project]
Features: South along the Pacific Coast Trail from Kennedy Meadows lies the Domeland Wilderness, a vast area of over 130,000 acres traversed by the South Fork of the Kern River. Most of the wilderness is sparse chaparrel; the western side has more trees and meadows that extend into the higher elevations. In the center is an area of huge granite domes that are comparable to Yosemite.
The easiest way to access this area is via the southbound Pacific Coast Trail. Parking is an easily visible dirt area immediately west of the bridge over the South Fork of the Kern River on the south side of Sherman Pass Road. The trail is sparsely used, even on holiday weekends. Come to the area over Memorial Day weekend for weather that is not too hot and to see wildflowers in bloom.
- Head north on US-395 N toward Pearson Rd
- After 2.2 miles, turn left onto 9 Mile Canyon Rd
- After 9.8 mi, continue onto Kennedy Meadow Rd/Sherman Pass Rd
- In 14.1mi, turn left onto Forest Rte 22S05/Sherman Pass Rd. Trailhead will be on your right.
Trail Directions: From the trailhead you cross the bridge to the eastern side of the river and head south on the PCT. The trail is relatively flat with small rolling hills and minimal elevation changes. The PCT travels east of the river and is very exposed to the sun and weather with few trees. You can go for as long as 24mi (in-and-out). Dispersed camping is allowed anywhere that is 100 feet from water and 150 feet from trails, and there are plenty of options. Dogs and horses are allowed, and campfires are also allowed with a campfire permit. Depending on the year and the amount of snowpack in the Sierra, the South Fork of the Kern can be a trickle or a torrent, so it would be wise to check conditions if you plan on fording the river. The river is usually less than knee deep and easily forded in the right spots.
The domes begin immediately to the south of Trout Creek and to the east of the South Fork of the Kern. Trails are not well marked and seldom used, so familiarity with pathfinding and off trail navigation is recommended to access and explore the domes. Some great, sweeping vistas can be had from the tops of the domes, many of which are accessible via Class 3 scramble.
Caution: Weather and road conditions can change in an instant. Always check with the managing agency before embarking on a trip. Always hike with a friend and carry a cell phone for emergencies. Bring plenty of drinking water, food, and clothing for changing weather conditions. Let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back. Remember, California’s wild places are beautiful but they can also be dangerous to the unprepared and unwary. The California Wilderness Coalition assumes no liability if you intend to visit any of the wild places featured in our materials.