Mountain Bike Rides in the Kern River Valley and Southern Sierra New Directions Cliffs


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Several Sport & Trad climbing routes above the river near Kernville.

New Directions Cliffs & Cable Rapid
The New Directions Cliffs just north of Kernville.

  • Sport and Trad Climbing
  • 5.7 to 5.12+
  • Approach: 10-20 min steep hike
  • Where: 5 miles north of Kernville
  • When: Fall/Winter/Spring
  • Land: Sequoia National Forest
  • Where: Kernville
  • Elevation: Above 3,000 feet.
  • Map: Kern River Sierra Outdoor Rec Map

A nice place to hangout
...Not a bad spot to hang out.

Rock Climbing

Close to Kernville and offering a ton of climbing routes, New Directions is one of the great non-summer choices for rock climbers. While many routes are described in the old guidebooks, several new routes have been added in the area.

A Guide to "Kernville Rock Climbs" by Herb Laeger is available online and at Sierra South & Riverside One-Stopin Kernville. Buying this guide also helps support the replacement of old bolts and anchors in the Kern River area.

Many of the routes are also described in the older guidebook: Southern Sierra Rock Climbing: The Needles. The more recent guidebook,California Road Trip: A Climber's Guide Northern California, also has information on New Directions. Mountain River Adventures in Kernville guides here and other locations.

New Directions Directions

How to find it

From Sierra Gateway Market in Kernville, drive north on Mtn 99 for about 5.4 miles. The parking is in a small dirt turnout to the right. Pass Kern Slabs/Kernville Rock, and park before reaching Chico Flat. A felled tree near a boulder and telephone poles marks the spot. A couple cairned trails climb steeply to the crags.

New Directions Roof
Dave Diller on Unnamed Sources, 5.10 c/d at Parking Lot Rock. A.K.A. "The Roof."

Little Rock

Just to the north of the parking area is an easily accessable trad route with one bolt and anchors (rated around 5.5). Just t beyond this, is a small slab, called Little Rock. 2 Herb & Eve Laegar routes in the 5.10 range are bolted here. Photos are on the Chico Flat Rocks page.

Parking Lot Rock

Some new routes along with the originals, like "Hair of the Dog" crack, above the parking area. Climbs range from 5.8 to 5.12. Popular routes include "Unnamed Sources", 5.10 c/d and "The Unknown Man" 5.10a over to the right.

Above this is the Generation Dome, with a few routes from 5.10D to 5.12.

Heart Rock

Great climbing on some of the harder classics in the area. Also, look for the new 2 pitch "In a Heartbeat" 5.10A here. "Sunrise Service," 5.9 is one of the best routes around.

Middle Cliff

Along with a few original bolted routes, some fun new sport lines have been added. On the right of the wall are "Surfers Route" and "Fun, Easy Route", rated 5.7/5.8, although they feel more like 5.8/5.9. Two difficult routes are just over to the left of these; "Argentum" and "Platinum".

Even further left are four new sport routes with great bolted protection: "Heckler" 5.11, "Kernville Choppers" 5.10b, "Kern Mantle" 5.10C, and "Kawasaki Kingdom" 5.9 from Herb Laeger and Mark Krebs.

Southern end of Middle Cliff
Above: The southern end of the Middle
Cliff with climber on Fun, Easy Route.

Right: Climbing Kernville Choppers, 5.10b.

Kernville Choppers














Herb Laeger on The Heckler
Herb Laeger in the crux of The
Heckler, 5.11.
 Heckler on Middle Cliff
Approaching the roof on The Heckler.

New Directions Cliff - Rusty Nail, Nowhere Man areas, The Asylum

You will want to check out all the many classics on the Rusty Nail Wall and Nowhere Man Area. "Wynna's Big Brown Beaver," 5.7 is possibly the most popular route up there. Around the corner are several routes including the excellent 2 pitch "Anxiety Attack," 5.9 with a 10D variation. "Nowhere Man" is another 5.10 classic.

Further south is The Asylum with a few hard routes from 5.10C-5.12.

Herb on 7 Draw
Herb Laeger on 7 Draws, 5.8 on the end of the New Directions Cliff. See an animated gif of the route here.

Climbing NoWhere Man photo
Mark Krebs leading Nowhere Man, 5.10, on the New Directions Cliff. More photos of this route here.

Climbing Rusty Nail Photo
Above: On Wyonna's Big Beaver, 5.7. Some of the easiest climbing on New Directions.
Rusty Nail PhotoClimbing Wyonna's Big Brown Beaver near Garden Party on Rusty Nail Wall. 7 Draw is on right. Breadsticks 5.11 on friction slab below right. Upper Rusty Nail/Brown Beaver, 5.8 is above, and Bootlegger 5.10c/d is upper climber left.

The Morgue

Climbing the Morgue, Kernville, CA
On the "Bucket Face," 5.9 at The Morgue, Kernville, CA.

Along with some very difficult old routes, several new routes line these cliffs between New Directions and the Kern Slabs.

The best access is just north of the Slabs (where the road bends at the "Cables" whitewater Put-In) at a very old road remnant that climbs toward the climbing area.

Some excellent long moderate sport routes are found here like the standouts: Bucket Face 5.9 & 5.10 variations and Crazy Buckets 5.8. Other sport routes vary from 5.9 to 5.11. These are also on The Guide to "Kernville Rock Climbs."

Nearby Climbing

Don't Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

The trails and climbing locations are depicted on the 6th edition of the Kern River Sierra Map.

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