The Saturday of Memorial Day weekend we set out for Kennedy Meadows near the Kern River (not to be mistaken for the other Kennedy Meadows near Sonora Pass) for some backpacking. On our way to Kennedy Meadows we ended up taking a slight detour through The Chimney Peak Backcountry Byway that ended up being pretty cool. We took a left on Canebrake Road from the 178 just east of Lake Isabella and drove up the winding dirt road and passed by a cool looking campsite on the way.
I was a little worried about taking my 2WD wagon onto this dirt road which I knew nothing about, but the road ended up being pretty well maintained and well graded.
It was nice coming down off the dirt road to meet back up with actual pavement. We turned onto Kennedy Meadows Road and took it all the way to the campground at the end of the road where the PCT passes through. There was a parking area in the campground near the trailhead where we were able to park for free.
Not too long after we hit the trail we crossed the boundary into the South Sierra Wilderness.
At 2 miles from the trailhead we came to a wooden footbridge which extends over the Kern River. Before this bridge was built, hikers had to forge the river here.
There were a group of people camping right past the bridge which I thought was weird, but maybe it was a good camping spot. We continued on the trail which kept gradually gaining elevation and at about 4 miles in we entered an area of the forest which had suffered some fire damage.
At 4.5 miles we came out of the burnt zone and then started getting nice views of Clover Meadow. This was the area in which we were planning to camp.
We headed north on the trail and kept an eye out for good places to set up camp. We eventually settled on a spot near Crag Creek that overlooked the south part of Clover Meadow.
The weather was perfect out and there were not many bugs at all. There was also very few people out in the area considering it was a holiday weekend. Later in the evening it started getting chilly so we started a small fire and enjoyed watching the stars come out.
The next morning we made a quick breakfast and packed out. When we left our camp we took a different trail that followed Crag Creek, but we ended up losing the trail and had to cross-country back to the PCT.
This little stretch of the PCT in the South Sierras is quite nice, and the fact that we didn’t need a wilderness permit for this area made it even better. I’d also definitely recommend the campground in Kennedy Meadows for a good drive up camping spot. The hike out from Kennedy Meadows to Clover Meadow is about 5.4 miles with 1,000 feet of elevation gain.