Kennedy Meadows -- The Jewel of the Southern Sierra

Note: There's another Kennedy Meadows way north near Sonora Pass.  Gets confusing.

In the "high country" above Kennedy Meadows.

    What's Here:

  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Clear Skies for Astronomy
  • Horseback riding
  • Hunting
  • Pacific Crest Trail
  • Clean Air
  • Off-road vehicle trails


FAQs about Kennedy Meadows

Kennedy Meadows is a small island of private land surrounded by national forest, BLM , and wilderness land on the Kern Plateau in the Southern Sierra.   It was homesteaded by ranch families in the late 1800s.   Local Indians journeyed to Kennedy Meadows from the Owens Valley in warmer parts of the year, and left obsidian arrowheads and tools, and grinding holes.

It’s never had major commercial recreational development; hence no advertising and little knowledge of the place among southern California residents.   A ski resort proposal decades ago was knocked down.

Three roads access Kennedy Meadows:  From US 395, Nine Mile Canyon road winds up through Sacatar Trail Wilderness and becomes Kennedy Meadows Road.   From CA Rt. 178 near Onyx, a California scenic byway, Chimney Peak road (unpaved), joins Kennedy Meadows Rd near BLM fire station.   From above Kernville, Sherman Pass Road climbs to 9,200 feet before starting down through miles of national forest toward Kennedy Meadows.

Elevation:  About 6,200 feet. 

Fishing:  Golden Trout, German and Brown trout populate the South Fork, Kern River , which is also stocked.    Smaller tributary streams to the South Fork of the Kern are fished for Golden Trout.

Hiking:  The Pacific Crest Trail runs through Kennedy Meadows.   Hundreds of miles of hiking and horse trails spiderweb the area.

Trail Bikes:  OHV enthusiasts use hundreds of miles of dedicated trails (bikes not allowed on hiking and horse trails).

4WD Roads:  The most popular are the Sherman Pass jeep road and the Monache Meadow jeep road.

Kennedy Meadows Campground:  38 spaces, water, in Sequoia National Forest , near South Fork, Kern River just above Kennedy Meadows.  Also dispersed fire-safe camping/RV sites nearby on river.

Troy Meadow Campground: 73 spaces, near OHV trails.  Water, meadow-side camping sites.

Other:  Numerous other campgrounds and dispersed fire-safe sites near Kennedy Meadows.

Sequoia National Forest :

Web Cam Links:  See Bald Mountain and Sherman Peak .  

Vegetation:   Pinion pine, juniper, sage, rabbit brush, Mormon tea and wildflowers, including lupine and Indian paintbrush, cover most of the landscape in and around Kennedy Meadows.   After a wet winter, the pinions produce some of the largest pine nuts in the world.

A few miles above Kennedy Meadows, the pinion give way to giant Ponderosa Pine, fir and spruce.

Private Land :  Tulare County Assessor data lists 522 tax parcels in Kennedy Meadows area.  About 40 of these are owned by the county, BLM or USFS .   The remaining 482 parcels are owned by 364 individuals or entities.   All other land for miles is federal land, much of it wilderness.   About 130 parcels have homes, cabins, or permanent travel trailers.

Kennedy Meadows General Store:  Offers camping and fishing supplies, fishing licenses, food, “Chuck Wagon BBQ” in summer, propane, campfire wood, pay phone.  Mail hold for Pacific Crest Trail hikers. Meet residents, tourists and Pacific Crest Trail Hikers on “The Porch,” open summers 9am to 5 pm , and later on weekends.  Special events include annual chili cook-off, fish derby, Dutch oven potluck. 

Grumpy Bears Resort:  Restaurant, steaks, beer and wine, ice cream, special events.

Irelan’s Restaurant:  Restaurant, some supplies.  

Volunteer Fire Department:  Fire station, fire truck and EMT supplies.

The Kennedy Meadows Community Volunteer First Aid Team (KMCVFAT):  Free first aid assistance to the community and visitors. The team is trained to provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), has an automated external defibrillator ( AED ), and is trained in its use. The team is also trained to give first aid for bleeding, sprains, strains, broken bones, seizures, bites and stings, heat and cold exposure, and altitude problems. The team has backboards and collars to deal with back and neck injuries.

Ducor Phone Company:  Local phone service.   Aids in community projects.  559-850-0011.

Other utilities:  Propane and fuel deliveries.   Solar and small wind generators.

Larry Mills Solar:  Solar panels, inverters, batteries and supplies.

Mail Service:  Rural route boxes on Kennedy Meadows Road.

KMPOA: (Kennedy Meadows Property Owners Association) publishes quarterly newsletter, acts as voice of Kennedy Meadows with local government.   Established Emergency Call Boxes in and around Kennedy Meadows, water tanks for auxiliary fire use, and brush removal.   Annual Memorial Day Road Clean-Up and BBQ.   Works with Kern River Valley Fire Safe Council.