Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness
Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness
Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

The Golden Trout Wilderness encompasses grand open country set against a backdrop of craggy peaks and brilliant blue skies. The most striking topographic feature of the region is the pristine Kern River which qualifies for federal Wild & Scenic status. This 303,000 acre federally designated Wilderness Area provides inspiring beauty, solitude and hiker friendly trails with fewer steep ups and downs than Sierra Nevada trails to the north.

Our goal is to introduce you to Sierra Nevada Mountains backpacking by selecting a route that offers challenge, great scenery and excellent camping. We will spend our time learning Leave No Trace skills and numerous backpacking techniques as we traverse approx. 26 miles, up and down, of Golden Trout Wilderness. This trip is a great opportunity for first time backpackers and visitors to Sequoia National Forest and the Kern River. And yes, there are trout in the Kern river!

"The entire trip I was just in awe of how beautiful it was."

"The trip was fun, informative, and a rewarding experience."

"Beautiful scenery, good food, meet new friends, nice getaway."


Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Pre-Trip Meeting

Pre-Trip Meetings are required and are held the Monday, the week of your trip, from 6-7:30pm in the AMC rooms, right outside the ARC. You will meet the leaders and other trip members, as well as cover all details such as weather, menu, safety issues, and clothing requirements. You will also be issued all of your equipment at this time (sleeping bags, pad, tent, etc.).

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Day 1: Depart SDSU by 2:00p.m. We will drive approx. 5.5-6 hours to Kernville, CA making a stop for one road meal and restroom—gas station breaks. We will make our first night’s camp at the Mountain & River Adventures campground right on the Kern River. There will be flush toilets nearby and potable water.

Day 2: Wake up early Friday morning and cook a nutritious and filling breakfast before loading up our backpacks for the drive to the Black Rock Ranger Station & trailhead. Our first day on the trail will involve a slow, steady and scenic 6 mile descent to Jordan Hot Springs. We will practice our energy conservation and numerous trail hiking techniques. There will be opportunities to drop our packs for scenic view points and to filter water from mountain streams. The plan is to reach our camp site at Jordan Hot Springs with plenty of daylight for setting up camp and cooking our first dinner together. This is the wilderness and no toilets will be available.

Day 3: Another early morning with breakfast and stretching. We will continue on the trail, for a minimum of ten miles (maybe more?), following "Nine Mile Creek" and joining the Kern River at the four mile mark. The trail will flatten out and we will follow it another 6+ miles until we find a suitable campsite along the river for the evening. Cook our second dinner together and enjoy our last night of Wilderness solitude.

Day 4: Pack up one last time after breakfast and enjoy the first four miles of hiking along the Kern River to where it forks with the Little Kern River. The last 2.3 miles is final exam time as we ascend very steeply to the trailhead where our van will be waiting. We will stop by the Mountain & River Adventures campground to use the restrooms before taking off for SDSU. Plan to arrive back at SDSU by 8:30pm

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Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Packing List

We are limited on space, and the less stuff you bring, the less you have to carry around. Ask yourself...What would I want in the coldest weather or the hottest weather? Pack to be prepared for both!

Things that should be packed inside your personal day pack and kept with you inside the van:

  • Small day pack
  • Money for road meals
  • A warm layer
  • Headlamp
  • Travel size
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Camera


  • Sunglasses w/retainer strap
  • Personal stuff- extra contact lenses, chap-stick, sunscreen, baby wipes, ear plugs baby powder, hand lotion, medications you usually take...
  • 2 durable crush proof one liter water bottles or a hydration pack
  • Toilet paper in a Ziploc bag
  • Small, light weight fast drying camp towel


  • Wide brimmed shade hat
  • Beanie/ stocking cap
  • Bandana
  • Cotton or synthetic blend hiking shirt (breathable layer)
  • Cotton or synthetic camp shirt (a clean shirt to wear at camp)
  • Synthetic Long Sleeve Top(s) – Polypro, Capilene, or polyester.
  • Fleece jacket or sweatshirt
  • Sports bra
  • Windbreaker
  • Nylon shorts
  • Light weight long pants/cotton or synthetic hiking pants
  • Rain Pants (Aztec Adventures can provide this if you don’t have your own!)
  • Sweatpants
  • Underwear
  • Synthetic long underwear (top & bottom)
  • Bathing suit
  • Gloves
FEET: No Flip Flops!!!!
  • Tennis shoes with good ankle support
  • Hiking Socks
  • Hiking Shoes/Boots

Personal Equipment Provided by Aztec Adventures:

  • 20˚ sleeping bag and Thermarest sleeping pad
  • Ground TarpTent with rain fly (sleeps 2-3)
  • Head lamp
  • Camp chair
  • Rain gear (if you don’t have your own)
  • Coffee mug, bowl, and utensils
  • Trekking Poles
  • Gregory Backpack (+5500 cubic inches)

Group Equipment that Aztec Adventures will provide:

  • Expedition First Aid Kit
  • Ground Tarp
  • Stoves, fuel and all cooking gear-pots, pans, utensils, spice kit etc.
  • Repair kit for tents, stoves, packs, etc.
  • Water bags -2+ gallon bags for camp use
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts
  • Satellite Phone
Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Physical Challenge

Trip Members must be comfortable camping in a primitive environment and have a desire to challenge themselves both physically and mentally throughout the weekend. Trip members should be in good physical condition for hiking on very steep terrain and capable of carrying a backpack of approximately one third one’s body weight filled with your personal gear as well as group gear (covered at pre-trip meeting). From now until the trip begins, we highly encourage you to get in shape. Locally speaking, if you can comfortably hike up and down Cowles Mountain with a 25 pound pack twice in a matter of a few hours, consider yourself prepared for the hiking portion of this trip.

TRIP RATING 3 out of 3 – This is a physically demanding trip covering rough terrain. On average you will be hiking 9 miles per day for 6 hours per day. Pace of travel is moderate as you will be on a designated trail. Plan on carrying your pack for four hours the first day; six hours the second day, and three hours the third.

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Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Risks/ Hazards/ Safety

There are numerous risks and hazards associated with the Sierra Nevada Mountains. High elevation (+6000 feet), steep rocky terrain requires extra caution when hiking. We will be in Black Bear country so extra precautions need to be taken securing our food and toiletries. Not dressing appropriately can result in heat or cold illnesses (Hyperthermia or Hypothermia). Not drinking enough water results in dehydration and not being in adequate physical condition can result in sore muscles. Trip members must make a conscious effort to be safe. One person’s disdain for safety will always result in more hardship for the group. If we do have an accident or injury that requires medical attention beyond the scope of our leader’s experience, the trip is immediately over without refund. Our leaders are trained to administer first aid in an outdoor environment; however, while they may be able to treat injuries they cannot always prevent them.

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Backpacking, Sequoia National Forest, Golden Trout Wilderness

Hygiene & Comfort

No showers will be available. Toilets are available the first night only. The remainder of the trip is without restrooms, requiring everyone to practice the Leave No Trace Principle of Disposing of Waste Properly (see Leave No Trace Principles). In addition, we will be obtaining drinking water, and treating it, from springs and the river along our route. Light weight tents, warm synthetic sleeping bags, foam pads and ground tarps will be provided to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.

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