Summary: Our 2021 Forks of the Kern season has been cancelled due to forest closure. Our Lower and Upper rafting seasons will run as originally scheduled.
In August 2020, The Castle Fire ignited from a lighting strike. Nearby and from the same storm, the Shotgun Fire began as well. Eventually, these fires were merged into one incident response, which was called the SQF Complex. The complex burned for five months, finally extinguishing in December, with the damage amassing to hundreds of thousands of acres burned. These included homes, Sequoia groves, and also access to the Forks of the Kern.
Specifically, this access is the Lloyd Meadow Road as well as the Forks of the Kern trail from the parking lot down to the Forks Island, which is where we launch our trips. On February 11, 2021, our Forest Supervisor, Teresa Benson, issued a Forest Order closing these areas until December 31, 2021. Initially, we were hopeful that this access would open up much sooner, which would allow us to run our Forks of the Kern trips. However, after reading more reports of the extent of the damage, we are no longer optimistic that the Forks trail will open by the end of this summer. With this being our only access point, it effectively cancels our 2021 Forks of the Kern season.
While we are saddened by the news, we are encouraged by reports that the actual river corridor did not burn much.
It is important to note that this is only for the Forks of the Kern. We will be operating on the Upper and Lower Kern from April through August as regularly scheduled.
What if the trail is opened earlier – much earlier – like in June or July?
Unfortunately, we are forecasting the water window for the Forks to be open for a very short period in late May. So even if the trail is able to open on an earlier schedule we do not anticipate it aligning with peak season runoff. However, if this does happen, and we do have adequate flows, then we will work hard to put a trip together. Again though, the odds of this occurring is low, in our opinion.
Are there any alternate put-ins available?
There are no alternate put-ins that make economic or logistical sense. We have thought about this as creatively as possible, and the trail is the only option for a commercial rafting trip.
How do I find out information regarding the 2022 season?
We have an interest list that you can sign up for here. Getting on this interest list ensures you receive updates before anyone else regarding the Forks of the Kern. We do not release information earlier through any other outlet or channel. Keep in mind, this is not a marketing newsletter. We only send you information regarding the Forks and we only send it when it is relevant to that upcoming season.
What are my rafting options for 2021?
We are offering half, full and overnight trips on the Upper and Lower Kern. These are going daily starting in April and we are expecting the season to run through August.