Packsaddle Cave North of Kernville

  • Updated: May 31, 2016
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

I found out about this cave by accident coming across it on a topo map while looking for a new area to spend a few days backpacking through for the annual Memorial Day Massacre trip.  It ended up being a multi day loop with a car shuttle on Highway 99 hitting the cable crossing at Durrwood Crossing and then swinging south to visit Packsaddle Cave.  The writeup for the entire loop can be found here but I thought this was interesting enough to deserve it's own writeup.

Getting There

You can get to Packsaddle multiple ways.

From Highway 99 Near Fairview Campground - Roughly 5 miles and 2k gain round trip

From Brush Creek along Sherman Pass Road - Roughly 4.4 miles and 1800 ft gain

From the south passing Salmon Creek - 8.7 miles and 3500 ft gain

If these three I've done hiked the second and third.  The Brush Creek route is dry and hot but the southern route is beautiful passing through heavy vegetation and with views of some spectacular waterfalls.  These trails are also dirtbike accessible if that's your thing.

The trail to the cave is marked with a duck in the middle of the trail and is located just a few hundred feet from where the Packsaddle Cave Trail meets the Rincon Trail.  There's a footpath that runs a short distance up the hillside to the cave entrance which you can pick out from below.

The Cave

The cave has suffered vandalism as is unfortunately almost the rule with open caves like this.  You can see multiple places where people set fires or spray painted the walls but it's still well worth exploring.

It's deep enough you're going to need a headlamp and be ready to do some crawling if you want to explore all the way.

The Massacre

For more about our particular visit that included crossing the Kern at the Durwood Cable Crossing and hiking most of the Rincon and the rather nice armed gentleman we ran into in the cave see the full trip report here.

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