Summary: This is an oasis during peak summer heat.
Link to trailhead: Google Map link.
Length: 1.6 Miles.
Difficulty: Class III. Some scrambling required.
Matt’s Rating: Good.
Good resources: Modern Hiker.
The end prize -Valhalla Falls.
The Valhalla Falls description sounds like it belongs in a Jurassic Park movie. Start by driving up a jeep road, hike along a creek, and swim in a large pool while trying to get underneath a waterfall. But it’s not, it’s right here at the Kern, with the trailhead ~20 minutes away from our Rafting Center.
If you’re looking for a hike that will kick your butt and leave you exhausted, then this isn’t it. Valhalla Falls attributes are significant though, especially in the peak summer heat as you won’t be in direct sunlight long and the swimming opportunity is a treat. (For those set on finding a long, challenging hike though, I suggest Power’s Peak.)
You’ll lose cell phone service pretty quickly so it’s important to load up the driving route ahead of time and you should probably pre-load this page too, especially if you’re directionally challenged.
Directions to the trailhead
Getting to the trailhead is a little more involved than the other hikes I’ve written about, so I’m breaking it down a bit more in this post.
- From Kernville, drive north up highway 99. Your turn-off destination is this pin: Google Map. Labeled on the map as 1.
- From that pin, take the dirt road that doubles back against highway 99 and at the dirt road junction, make a three-point turn to then head north again. Labeled on the map as 2.
- Follow this road and at the three-way intersect, take the middle option. Labeled 3 on the map below. If you cross over a creek, you’ve taken the wrong turn.
- Follow this road a short ways until you run into the water flume, pictured below and labeled on the map as 4. Google Map pin.
Getting to the falls
From the trailhead take the small path to your right and away from the creek and start heading up. The creek should be on your left. The trail at first will take you through open land but pretty quickly it turns back towards the creek and you head into the creek’s drainage and canyon.
This is towards the beginning before you’re in the creek.
Once in the drainage, you’ll come to an area where the trail splits, with the main trail keeping you in the drainage and the right fork leading you high and away from the creek. Stick to the left. At this point, the trail will eventually peter out and you’ll have to rock hop and scramble as you continue your way up the creek.
You’ve made it when you reach the pool and falls, which is pictured at the top of this post.