frequently asked questions
When is your season?
Our season typically runs from May-October. The first part of our season we usually spend most of our time running whitewater trips out of the Lloyd Meadow PackStation. We don’t organize these trips, but we do pack gear for several rafting companies down to the Forks of the Kern. Pack trips out of the Forks of the Kern Trailhead are available during this time. We also offer day rides out of the main pack station at Lewis Camp Trailhead. Depending on runoff, anywhere from June-September, we will move everything up to the main pack station at Lewis Camp Trailhead. From there, we run pack trips, day rides, etc to the upper portions of the Kern in the GTW until October. In late August all the way through the end of October, we offer pack trips for bow and rifle hunters in the main Kern and Little Kern drainages.
We are on the West side of the Southern Sierras! Woohoo for not having to drive a gnarly pass or go all the way around the range to get to us! We are roughly in between Fresno and Bakersfield. If you follow Hwy 190 out of Porterville, through Springville and about 40 miles up into the mountains, our turnoff is about two miles below Ponderosa, Ca. You can also reach us from the Kernville side. Follow the signs on Road 21s50 for about seven miles and you will find our Lewis Camp Trailhead pack station, which is our main pack station for most of the season. We are only about 4 hours from Los Angeles and 5 from San Francisco.
where are you located?
What is a drop trip vs a full service trip?
A drop trip means that a packer takes you and as much gear as you want into your desired camp location and drops you there. The packer returns for you on a predetermined date and location. It does not have to be the same location we dropped you; nor do you have to be picked up at all- you can hike your way out. You don’t have to ride in; we can just do a gear drop as well. Prices depend on how many riding animals, how many pack animals and how far into the backcountry we take you.
On full service trips, the packer and stock will accompany you in the backcountry the entire time. We setup camp, cook, clean, and keep stock available for day rides should you be interested. We can provide a fly-fishing guide and rods. We supply the kitchen, tables, chairs, bathroom, and showers. We can supply tents. We also offer trips that even take the planning out of it for you; blocked out dates, a minimum of 1 person, max of 6, roving or stationary trips to our favorite spots in the Wilderness. You receive the same deluxe treatment. Full service trips are $300/day/person.
What if i have never ridden before?
The overwhelming majority of our guests have “never ridden”, “haven’t been on a horse in years”, or have “only ridden a handful of times”; you are not alone and it’s no reason to shy away from a pack trip! Our stock at Golden Trout are well-mannered and well cared for. Customer horses are thoroughly vetted by our wranglers and have been up and down our trails enough times to make you dizzy. They are, of course, animals with a thinking brain and a prey species who have relied on their speed and flight for thousands of years to keep them alive. For that reason, we make sure to match our horses to guests according to level of riding, personality, height, and weight. We personally introduce you to your horse and give you a tutorial on how to behave and communicate with your horse. For those guests who are extremely anxious about it; we recommend you either come up to the pack station a day early so we can give you a more in-depth lesson and allow you to get more comfortable with your horse, or, in the months leading up to your trip, find a reliable horse to climb up on, take a lesson or two at your local barn, and get comfortable being in the saddle. Even if our horse is a perfect mount, if your hands are clenched on the reins and your legs clutching his body in fear the entire time, it will detract from your experience on the trail! It’s a huge part of how comfortable your ride is.
what should i bring?
On full service trips, you can pack 50 lbs. of gear. This would include a tent (if we are not providing one), sleeping bag and pad (combined rating of 30 degrees), clothing, personal items/toiletries and fishing gear. We recommend you include close-toed shoes that are narrow enough to comfortably fit in the stirrups, bug spray, sunscreen, lip balm, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses (polarized if you plan to fish), a bandanna or buff, camera and a pair of camp shoes. We will provide a comprehensive list to guests going on our pack trip. Make sure to bring any necessary medications and any medical equipment you may need (EpiPen, Inhaler, etc.). Pack this gear in 1 or 2 duffel bags of equal weight and size. Any items fragile or breakable should be packed securely with padding; inform your packer about what and where these items are. Fishing rods should break down into three pieces and be stored in a hard case or pvc pipe with caps. Any other questions, always feel free to call us.
do you have size and age limits?
We do. For the safety of our animals and our guests we take no one younger than 6 without being led/ponied by one of our wranglers/packers. This is an extra expense and requires final approval by GTWP staff. All guests under 250 pounds will be accepted; guests over 250 pounds will be accommodated and provided with a riding mule; pending final approval by GTWP Staff and availability of our riding mules. Guests with existing medical or physical injuries and conditions must discuss these issues with GTWP staff before signing liability waiver.
can i come alone?
Of course! You are a great candidate for joining one of our ‘featured trips’ on the calendar. These trips are all-inclusive, pre-planned trips to the best camps in the Wilderness and you’ll meet fascinating and like-minded people like yourself, hopefully coming away with lasting friendships and bonds. These trips are capped at 4 or 6 people, giving you the chance for plenty of space or plenty of interaction if you choose. Check out our calendar on the “Book Your Trip” page or our “Wilderness Trips” page to get started finding your trip!
do you offer day rides?
Yes! We offer 2 hour, 4 hour and full day rides. You can fish for Little Kern Golden Trout on 4 hour and full day rides. Equipment is available for a rental fee. See our “Trail Rides” page for more info and rates.