Whitewater & Scenery

There are two sections on the Lower Kern, the Jungle Run, which is a Class II-III (at normal flows), 8 mile section that begins just below Lake Isabella and ends at Miracle Hot Springs. Commercial rafting trips often combine the Jungle Run with the Miracle to Democrat run, to make a 20 mile 2-day trip. The 12 mile Miracle to Democrat section has numerous Class III-IV rapids and a Class V+ portage. The Class IV rapids begin just a mile below Miracle Hot Springs, with White Maiden, followed by Sundown Falls, Silver Staircase, and Deadman’s Curve. The portage, called Royal Flush, is about a mile below Dead Man’s Curve and just below the Class III False Flush. After the highway 178 bridge, the Lower Kern picks up again with Surprise, Hari Kari, Horseshoe Falls, Sidewinder, and Pinball.

High Water Tip

The Lower Kern at high water (above 2500 cfs) is extremely fun, but it is also a step up from normal flows with big Class IV+ and some Class V rapids. In the spring, when the dam spills, the water levels get higher. It can make for an exciting day of rafting or kayaking.

The Lower Kern flows through the Greenhorn Mountains, but the scenery feels more like low foothills and flatlands than rugged mountains. There’s not much of a sense of remoteness, since the river flows past campgrounds and bridges and riverside lodges, but the whitewater is great, and in the spring and early fall, you will often get the Lower Kern all to yourself.

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