Forks of the Kern Class IV-V

Class IV-V | Ages 16 & up

2-Day Trip

The 2 day Forks of the Kern is the most difficult and remote run we offer, and one of the premier wilderness whitewater rafting trips in the USA.

Kern River Multi-Day Whitewater Rafting Trip

This trip offers continuous Class IV-V whitewater for 17 miles with big rapids like Upper Freeman, Vortex, Gauntlet, and Carson Falls. The spectacular Sierra scenery includes views of the Needles and the granite-lined gorge you’re traveling through as well as brief side hikes to waterfalls such as Freeman Falls, Peppermint Falls, and Dry Meadow Teacups. Gourmet outdoor meals are prepared by the guides at camp while you try your luck catching an elusive native golden trout. If we do not have a trip going or meet minimum numbers, we may book with an outside outfitter. A Class V Paddlers Evaluation is required prior to running class V whitewater.

The Class V Paddlers Evaluation is not competitive. The purpose of the test is to evaluate the ability of guests to deal with situations we might encounter. It is also done to emphasize teamwork, build confidence, and as a tool for you to judge your readiness to paddle class V whitewater. Class V rafting is strenuous and adventurous. For those who are ready, it is an incredibly fulfilling experience. Class V rafting requires full participation, teamwork, and paddlers who are in good physical condition.

The Class V Paddlers Evaluation may include:

  • Calisthenics and running
  • Hang from a bar for one minute
  • On river swimming and river skills, including swimming across currents, catching eddies, swimming through class II-III rapid
  • Throwbag practice
  • A Class V Paddle Talk

The exact makeup of this test is at the discretion of the trip leader and will depend on the river, water level, and the paddlers.

Sierra South reserves the right to turn away those that we feel are not ready to tackle the class V trip. We may also substitute a class IV trip as an alternative.

Participating in a Class V Paddlers Evaluation in no way certifies your ability to successfully paddle class V whitewater or guarantees your safety.

Sierra South reserves the right to substitute oar/paddle combinations for paddle boats.

Schedule & Duration

  • Two days; 6-7 hours per day
  • Months of operation: May – September
  • Trip Arrival Time: 6:30 am.
  • Trip Departure Time: Starting at 7 am.
  • We suggest you arrive at the store 30-45 minutes prior to the trip departure time. This will allow sufficient time to check-in and change into wetsuits if needed or required. Our trips must leave on schedule. Don’t miss the boat!


  • All participants must be physically fit, good swimmers, and have previous Class IV experience
  • A Class V Paddler’s Evaluation is required prior to running Class V whitewater
  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must weigh between 50 and 275 lbs.
  • Please wear shoes that will stay on your feet in the water, such as tennis shoes, water shoes, or sandals that have a heel strap. No flip-flops or bare-feet!
  • Minimum group size:  8 guests
  • Max group size: 16 guests

Additional Information

  • Wetsuits and dry-bags are included on our Forks trips
  • Gourmet outdoor meals are prepared by the guides at the camp
  • All of our trips may be adjusted based on water levels and/or other conditions

You may cancel 45 or more days before your Sierra South trip date and receive a full refund less a $25 processing fee per person. Cancellations made 44 days or fewer before trip date are non-refundable. If you must cancel, please try to find a friend to take your space. All trips go rain or shine. However, we reserve the right to alter or cancel a trip/class due to high- or low-water conditions, other such uncontrollable situations, or insufficient reservations. Only in the case of canceled trips are trip fees refundable. Upon approval by our main office, refunds will be sent via mail. Refunds cannot be granted by guides, nor can refunds be given if you leave a trip or class early for any reason. Sierra South is not liable for other costs incurred in association with a canceled trip. We suggest trip insurance such as to cover any unexpected situations.

Some of our trips require a minimum number of guests to operate. The Forks of the Kern raft trip requires a minimum of 8 guests.
We will attempt to contact you if the minimums have not been met for the activity that you have chosen prior to the trip date. Minimum numbers can be met through one or multiple reservations and can be met up to the day before the trip. You can call 800-457-2082 for up-to-date trip status.

Water Levels Change:
Trips may be substituted or changed due to water levels. Potential changes include, but are not limited to the following list: At higher water levels Inflatable Kayaking trips will be converted to regular rafting trips. Some Class IV trips may be converted to Class III trips and Class V trips may be converted to Class IV trips. During lower water levels, some Class IV trips will be rescheduled to our Class II & III trips. End of season trips can also be converted from rafting to inflatable kayaking or tubing.

Responsibility & Liability:

All Sierra South trips and classes involve physical activity and include certain elements of risk. We make every effort to run trips and classes in the finest, most fun-filled manner as possible. However, we cannot guarantee your safety. It is your responsibility to evaluate your level of fitness and to select a trip or class which is appropriate for you. Seek medical advice before your trip if you question your physical condition. It is your responsibility to follow our instructions.

Everyone will be required to sign a release of liability/assumption of risk form and photography/video waiver form before departure. Minors under 18 must have an online release form signed by their parent or legal guardian.

No Unaccompanied Minors:

Minors must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older.

Sierra South
Mountain Sports

11300 Kernville Road
Kernville, California 93238

Sierra South operates under permits issued by: Sequoia National Forest, Klamath National Forest, and the National Park Service/Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Sierra South is an equal opportunity recreation service provider.

Hours of Operation


Monday-Friday  10 am-5 pm

Saturday-Sunday 10 am- 4 pm


Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm

U.S. Forest Service Logos