Hiker Symbol for the Kern River Valley Durrwood Creek Canyon & Beyond


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Stun all the senses with vast wonders of this area. The more you explore, the more you shall see.

Durrwood Ceek in the fall
Fall is an amazing time to visit the Durrwood Canyon.

  • Miles: 8-12+
  • Knoll Elevation: 8000
  • Start Elevation: 8700
  • Effort: 1500+ feet of total ascent/descent
  • Tread: On Trail & Off Trail hiking
  • Type: Out n Back Hike (loop option here)
  • Activities: Hiking, Fishing, Rock Climbing, Biking
  • Where: Kern Plateau near Sherman Pass
  • Closest Town: Kernville, Kennedy Meadows
  • Map: Kern River Sierra Outdoor Rec Map
Views from Durrwood Canyon
Sheer cliffs and big views.


Hiking to Durrwood Creek & Beyond

Durrwood Creek
Durrwood Creek.

This pleasant hike through forested meadows and along creeks leads hikers to a remote and wild section of the Southern Sierra. One can stay on the trail for an easier hike, or see the vast wonders of the area on the side excursions described.

Following Trout Creek and Schaeffer Trails through sections of both healthy and older burned pine and fir forest, much of this hike follows Durrwood Creek to the area where it plummets thousands of feet down to the Kern River below.

This route can be taken to the old Scotch Whiskey Camp near a confluence of creeks and beyond to the scenic "Durrwood Knoll," which provides explorers exceptional views of the High Sierra, numerous waterfalls, and a maze of sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high.

Continuing down the trail, leads one to upper Cedar Canyon and Stony Meadow and the Old Sheep Trail to the Schaeffer Ridge viewpoints. There are plenty of options for several different hiking experiences in this area!

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!

This doe is wearing some good camo;
just off the Schaeffer Trail.
Native Trout abound in
Durrwood Creek.

One of the meadows along the way.

On the Trail

The trails utilized on this hike are multi-use motorized singletracks that may see some motorcycle traffic on summer and fall weekends.

The hike commences at the Corral Trailhead for Trout Creek Trail, 33E28, off Corral Meadow Road (See Directions below). Go north (left) on the trail. The initial descent is often dusty, but the tread usually improves as it passes several springs. The forested singletrack will open into a quaking aspen-lined meadow as it approaches Corral Meadow.

Schaeffer Trail
Schaeffer Trail.
Scotch Whiskey Camp
Scotch Whiskey Camp.

In about 1.2 miles veer left on the signed Schaeffer Trail, (turning right leads to West Meadow and the High Meadows Loop, a nice bike ride). From this junction, the trail follows the Corral Meadow fork of Durrwood Creek down to its confluence in another 1.2 miles.

After passing several springs and a meadow with with older burnt trees, the trail comes to an intersection with North Meadow Pass Trail at almost 2.5 miles into the hike. Go right and continue along Durrwood Creek.

Local Resident
The local camp resident.

Scotch Whiskey Camp turnoff

Roughly 1.3 miles from the North Meadow Pass intersection (about 3.8 miles into the hike), the trail starts to cruise into a darker denser forest and makes a short steep dip down to a small brook that is perpendicular to the trail.

At the confluence of this brook and Durrwood Creek (to your left), sits the location of the old Scotch Whiskey Camp.

The easiest way to see the camp is to stay on the trail up the hill, and then go left cross-country to the confluence. The camp is on the other side of Durrwood Creek. If the water is high, there are usually logs to cross the creek nearby.

Durrwood Canyon
At the top of Durrwood Canyon, 1/4 mile from Scotch Whiskey Camp.

Surrounded by pine trees and lots of red currant, the Scotch Whiskey Camp is an interesting site from the 1930's. A large brick oven still sits in the middle of camp, along with a fire pit, some log chairs, and firewood.

The glory of this camp has diminished over the years, with some new backpacker trash, a downed log bisecting camp, and a few missing features, such as the original sign and a large rock table.

A newer camp that seems to attract fisherman and rock climbers is nearby.

Perusing upstream on the grassy banks of Durrwood Creek is an enjoyable and serene experience, and one might spot some of the small native trout in the small pools.

To the edge of Durrwood Canyon

From the camp, there used to be an obvious rock-lined trail along the creek heading downstream to the edge of Durrwood Canyon 1/4 mile away. So many logs have fallen that it has disappeared for now.

Fall Colors at Durrwood Creek
Beautiful Aspens.

Make your way downstream, jumping over logs and when you start to see cliffs through the grove of aspens, it's time to start heading uphill to a rock outcropping.

The terrain immediately opens up with views of the Western Divide over the edge of the Kern Plateau. Slate Mountain, Sentinel Peak, Elephant Rock, and so many iconic Kern River features standout to one's eye.

Durrwood Knoll
On the "Durrwood Knoll," with amazing views just west of the top.

Like the Upper Salmon Creek Falls Hike, it's very hard to see the actual waterfalls from above. (Durrwood Canyon is so steep and remote, it's even difficult to see the falls from below!) Hiking around will yield sights of some small slides and pools as one absorbs the drama of the creek plunging thousands of feet below.

Nearby granite spires and huge rock walls make an amazing backdrop for the aspen and willow-lined creek. Fall colors never disappoint in this area.

Looking across the creek, note the knoll rising above the cliffs. This is "Durrwood Knoll," a highly recommended destination for this trip (see below).

When finished exploring this side of the creek, head back to the way you came and return to the Schaeffer Trail.

Exploring Durrwood Knoll

"Durrwood Knoll" is a small peak, situated north of Durrwood Canyon and south of Cedar Canyon. For those willing to scramble and explore off trail, this area has a ton to offer and is a major highlight of the trip.

Falls on Durrwood Creek Durrwood Creek falls
One of many waterfalls to see: Zoomed out. The lower section of the double falls: Zoomed in.
Exploring Durrwood Canyon
Exploring around the cliffs.

From the Scotch Whiskey Camp, head back to the Schaeffer Trail and continue hiking north about 1/3 mile. At the saddle, veer left for off-trail hiking on the knoll.

Hiking to the top of the knoll, and beyond to the west side, reveals an awesome vista of the High Sierra peaks and possibly the best view of The Needles anywhere!

To see the vortex of sheer walls converging around the Durrwood waterfalls, traverse above the cliffs on the southern side of the knoll. It seems like every few steps opens up another intriguing perspective of the creek's numerous waterfalls (that continue for 2000 vertical feet). The farther you go, the more you will see.

Many of the cliffs are several hundreds of feet high, and house some newly developed rock climbing routes. Canyoneers have also rappelled down to the Rincon Trail.

It's easy to forget how far you can actually wonder! When done exploring return to the Schaeffer Trail.

Durrwood Canyon Cliffs Durrwood creek falls
Beautiful sites around every turn. Waterfalls and slides continue for thousands of feet below.
A maze of huge cliffs guarding the creek. Look for some of the developed rock climbing routes.  








Stony Meadow
Stony Meadow.

On to Stony Meadow and beyond

The hike doesn't have to end!

Or, for those who avoid hiking off trail and may want to skip the Durrwood Knoll, Stony Meadow is a great destination for the hike as well.

Hike back to the Schaeffer Trail and continue north. Depending on where you return to the trail, Stony Meadow is approximately 1.7 miles away. The rolling trail will pass by spring-fed Schaeffer Meadow, where an older burn opens the terrain for awhile.

After climbing a couple hills and re-entering the forest, the route meets the Cedar Canyon Trail junction. See Lookout & Schaeffer Mountains Loop hike for a description of this area, photos of the signs, and a discussion of hiking options.

Veer right for the start of the "Old Sheep Driveway Trail." This leads to Stony Meadow at the base of Schaeffer Mountain's West Face in .2 miles.

If Stony Meadow isn't far enough, one can hike up to Schaeffer Ridge on the edge of a recent burn. There are some spectacular viewpoint knolls that make a superb destination, see the Loop Hike for more info.

Elevation Profile: Corral Trailhead to Stony Meadow 1-way

Eelvation Profile

Durrwood Canyon
View of Durrwood Canyon from far below near the Cedar Canyon/Rincon Trail intersection.

Nearby Trails & Hikes


From the Kern River Valley, drive up M99/Sierra Way north along the Kern River.

Turn right on Sherman Pass road and drive up and over Sherman Pass 17.5 miles.

About 2 miles past Sherman Pass, turn left on Corral Meadow Road, 22S26. Drive past the corrals to the Firesafe Parking area near the signed Trout Creek Trail, which crosses the road.

The hike starts by heading north on the trail.

Durrwood Creek
One of many small waterfalls and pools.
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Kernville Adventure Map

These tralis and nearby hikes are depicted on the local adventure map:


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