Jug Spring and the Little Kern Stockbridge
Golden Trout Wilderness
Highlights: The hike to the Little Kern Stockbridge is a moderate backpack of 5 miles (one-way) that leads to one of the best known landmarks of the Golden Trout Wilderness. The bridge is the only safe way to cross the river in the Spring and sits in a setting with grand Sierra vistas.
Directions: The drive takes about 2½ hours from Bakersfield.
- Drive up Highway 178 to Lake Isabella and take the Kernville exit.
- Follow the road back over the freeway and then on up to Kernville. Turn left on the road to Johnsondale just after crossing the river bridge on the far side of town.
- Continue along the river then up the hill for 35 miles, passing Johnsondale on the way, and turn right on Lloyd Meadows Road (Forest Service Road 22S82).
- Follow Lloyd Meadows Road for 23 miles to the Jerkey parking lot at the end of the road. Near the beginning of this road you pass Camp Whitsett, a BSA summer camp. Pyles Boys Camp is a few miles before the end of the raod.
Trailhead:The trail to the Little Kern Stockbridge begins on the west side of the parking lot and switchbacks steeply for 2 miles to a 4-way trail junction at the top of a long ridge. The trail to the left (west) goes uphill to Lewis Camp, and the trail straight ahead (north) leads down a steep hill to Fish Creek and Grey Meadow. Our trail is on the right (west) and follows the ridge to Jug Spring and the Stockbridge. At an intersection just past the disappointing Jerkey Meadow, the trail levels out and continues northeast another mile or so to good campsites at Jug Springs, which sit about 3½ miles from the trailhead. Another 1½ miles of trail leads to a large metal bridge spanning the Little Kern River, a surprize since the size of this bridge seems at odds with its location deep in the Golden Trout Wilderness. One can camp on the bluffs on either side of the bridge, or make camp at Jug Spring and day hike 1½ miles to the bridge.
Maps: Hockett Peak 7½-minute topographic quadrangle
- Bears can be a problem and the usual precautions need to be taken to keep them from stealing your food supplies.
- Except for Jug Spring and the Little Kern, water is scarce. As a consequence, there is no fishing until the river is reached 5 miles from trailhead.
- A National Forest Service fire permit (free) and Wildernss permit (free) are required (maximum group size is 15 campers). These can be obtained at the Ranger Station in Kernville (760-376-3781).
- There are nice views of the Needles fire lookout perched on a spectacular ridge off to your left, as you climb up the initial hill above the Jerkey parking lot.
- Once on the high ridge above, don't miss the beautiful views of pyramid-shaped Mt. Florence (12,432') on the horizon to the north. The ridge that Mt. Florence straddles is the south boundary of Sequoia National Park, and the obvious pass to the left of the peak is Farewell Gap, a high pass that connects the Golden Trout Wilderness with the Mineral King area of the park.
- A trail on the west side of the bridge roughly parallels the Little Kern 3 miles to Grey Meadow. You can use this trail to make a nice 13-mile loop.
- The trail on the far side (east) of the bridge continues 2 miles to cabins at Trout Meadow, where a backcountry is sometimes stationed during the summer.