Canebrake Road Trailheads

Revised 23 Apr 2013 - please send updates to the webmaster

home See Driving Directions > Southern Sierra for context and how to get here.
info view GPS waypoints: simple Waypoint+ format, download GPX file, or overlay on interactive map.
Contributors: Aaron Schuman, Steve Eckert (major update October 2005), Jim Morford (canebrake updates 2007), Doug Hoffman (Rockhouse Basin May 2011)

For another way to climb Spanish Needle, see Rodecker Flat / Sand Canyon trailhead

Canebrake Road gives access to Sawtooth (S), Spanish Needle, and Lamont Peak from Hwy 178 or Kennedy Meadow (S). It is a high quality graded dirt road, suitable for year round use by ordinary passenger vehicles.

NOTES:

  1. Blue line is Canebrake Road.

  2. Green line is Long Valley Loop Road.

  3. Yellow line is a road that may or may not be CLOSED (see comments below).

  4. Purple lines (on topo) are hiking routes.

  5. Red line (on topo) is Ninemile Canyon Road from Hwy 395 (waypoint 9MI395) to Kennedy Mdw (waypoint KENEDY).

Map of trailheads and junctions mentioned below:


From the North: (GPS Route SHERMAN PASS)

Nine Mile Canyon Road connects Hwy 395 (waypoint 9MI395) to Kennedy Meadows (waypoint KENEDY). Roughly halfway (12 miles from each end) there is a major intersection with a Chimney Peak Rec Area monument but nothing that says what road it is (waypoint CAN9MI). This would be the northern end of Canebrake Road, which may be called Chimney Basin Road between here and the Chimney Creek Campground (waypoint CHMCMP). Nine Mile Canyon Road is usually plowed in the winter, but Canebrake and the Sherman Pass Road beyond Kennedy Meadows are not.

From the South: (GPS Route WALKER PASS)

Hwy 178 connects Hwy 395 to Hwy 99 in Bakersfield, by way of Hwy 14, Walker Pass, and Lake Isabella. The southern end of Canebrake Road is at Highway 178, about 9 miles west of Walker Pass, or about 25 miles east of Lake Isabella. The turnoff isn't marked with the road name, but there is a big sign for the Chimney Peak BLM wilderness area. The first few yards of the road are paved, and it's one of very few paved turnoffs along the upper reaches of Walker Pass Highway.

Along the Road, from south to north
(GPS Routes CANEBRAKE ROAD and LONG VALLEY):

Canebrake Road doesn't technically go all the way to Nine Mile Canyon Road, but Chimney Basin road fills in the gap and most people don't know the difference. It's about 15 miles from Hwy 178 to Nine Mile Canyon.

  1. The trailhead for Lamont Peak and Spanish Needle is right at the saddle on Canebrake Road, about 7 miles up from Hwy 178, or 8 miles south from Nine Mile Canyon Road (waypoint CANLAM). There's a parking lot on the west side of the road, and the trailhead is opposite on the east.

  2. If you want to climb Rockhouse or Stegosaurus Fin from the east, or do a one-way traverse from Big Meadow (18 miles of walking including Taylor and Rockhouse), you'll need to find the old Rockhouse Basin trailhead (waypoint LNGRCK). The Jenkins guide and prior trip reports are all obsolete!

    As of 2005 the Long Valley Loop Road was CLOSED permanently at the north end (on Nine Mile Canyon Road at waypoint LNG9MI) and when approaching this section from the south the road basically ended (without a sign or gate) about a mile south of the PCT at the head of Long Valley. As of 2010 Doug Hoffman reported that the western portion of the road in yellow on the map below was passable with 4WD. In 2010 the road was open all the way. The road which may or may not be open is in yellow on the map above.

    Whether or not the northern end is open, the southern end of the loop is a very good dirt road suitable for all cars (see GPS Route LONG VALLEY). Turn west from Canebrake Road at the sign for Long Valley (a yellow Y intersection sign at waypoint LNGCAN). The signs say 11 miles or 15 miles, but don't bet on that. It's best to have a GPS set to find waypoint LNGRCK - in 2005 my hiking partner drove north past this trailhead on Long Valley Loop Road and almost got his Jeep stuck in the mud that followed. Doug, 5 years later, drove past the still-unmarked gate but didn't find such a bad road.

    To find the trailhead at LNGRCK, watch for a small (seasonal) stream crossing the road just north of a large parking lot west of the road (Jim Morford says 8 vehicles could fit here). Locate the massive brown steel gate on your left (west) and walk down the road behind it. Note that there is no sign for this gate or the trail - nothing at all to indicate the Long Valley Road is ending or where you should park or where the trail is!

    A decade ago you could drive almost down to the Kern River, but the side road going down is now gated at the LNGRCK junction (about 6800') so it's a 2.5 mile climb back up from old trailhead to your car on the way out. From the trailhead, walk downhill past the trailhead Jenkins describes and keep left at a junction (waypoint KRNJCT) to reach a "reasonable" place to cross the Kern River (waypoint KRNRIV). There may be a fallen log here, or you may be chest deep in springtime rapids. The first time I tried to cross, we deemed it to dangerous even with a climbing rope and gear. Others have made it by swimming. Use caution!

    From the current trailhead it's 5 miles and 1300' down to the Kern River, and the trail from the Kern up to Rockhouse is basically gone - it's a good cross-country route where you'll see bits of a trail occasionally.) See the Rockhouse Traverse trip report for more details (including detailed maps) on this challenging and rewarding route. You can also just leave the trail and follow near the river, as it's easy to go cross-country in the desert vegetation.

    Doug adds: "The Rockhouse Basin trailhead is for Stegosaurus Fin in addition to Rockhouse. Stegosaurus is an incredible peak and worth the extensive effort to get there, but not many people know about it because it's so remote and hardly mentioned anywhere (I saw it on summitpost). It's a very prominent peak in the area the summit block is likely the best class 4 summit in the area. It well deserves mention on the page. LNGRCK is the closest trailhead for this peak as well."

  3. The trailhead to Sawtooth (S) and Spanish Needle is the Pacific Crest Trail (waypoint CANPCT). The trailhead sign is very small and easily overlooked. The easiest way to find it is to drive as far as the campground (waypoint CHMCMP), then turn around if you've been driving north and go 0.2 miles south to the marked trail. Trailhead parking is at the campground, not where the trail crosses the road!

  4. There's a really pretty campground 11 miles from the south end of the road (or 4 miles from the north end), called Chimney Peak campground (waypoint CMHCMP). It's free. In the cold season the well is shut off, so bring your own drinking water.


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