|The Needles / Kern River
Nearby Mountain Bike Rides
Skyline in Three Rivers
A little known mountain biking gem in the Central California foothills. Near Three Rivers, CA
From MP's sister site: MTB
The upper Kern River Valley, in Sequoia National Forest, is a true outdoor paradise. The area is home to outstanding white water kayaking, fishing, mountain biking and hiking. Natural wonders include the "Grand Canyon of the Kern River" (a scenic waterway cut by the mighty Kern), the southern-most stand of old-growth Giant Sequoias and countless waterfalls, natural water slides, and plunge pools.
AND THEN THERE'S THE CLIMBING.
The area is home to the world famous Needles and several other truly outstanding formations, including Dome Rock and Elephant Knob. It has been said that the Needles themselves are home to the highest density of classic routes anywhere. This is not an overstatement. The overshadowed lesser formations are worthwhile destinations in their own right and should not be overlooked.
The Kern River Valley is quite large, so for directions see the description for the specific sub-area you wish to visit
136 Total Routes
['4 Stars',30],['3 Stars',58],['2 Stars',33],['1 Star',11],['Bomb',1]
Browse More Classics in The Needles / Kern River
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Needles / Kern River:
Featured Route For The Needles / Kern River
Love Potion No. 9 5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a
: Southern Sierra
: ... : The Sorcerer's Apprentice
This is an enjoyable and easy climb that doesn't see too much traffic. Finding the start is a little tricky -- see the area description for details.P1: Climb up intermittent cracks and fins of rock to a face with a few widely spaced bolts. Belay at a stance with a bolted anchor. A long pitch, 5.9+.P2: Climb up ever steepening face past four or five bolts, then turn the corner around the right. Save a sling for a crucial knob tie-off!!! Continue traversing right and then up to a bolted bel...[more] Browse More Classics in CA
Local Information for The Needles / Kern River
|By Ryan Williams|
From: London (sort of)
Sep 14, 2011
"There is a God, and, obviously, he climbs." - Sam Lightner Jr.
He said this about a route in Thailand, but I can't think of a better way to describe the Needles. I could give 4 stars to pretty much every route we did there. Far and away the best climbing area I hit on my CA road trip and in my top three locals of all time.
Lost at Sea
|By Eric T.|
From: St. Augustine, Florida
Sep 21, 2011
How early in the spring can you start climbing here?
Oct 14, 2011
Elephant Knob is not worth the hike, for those who are considering it. The cliff got burnt up in a wildfire a few years back and it is DONE. Started up a couple of the "classics" but it's all kitty litter rock now and the hardware has been cooked and isn't trustworthy either.
|By Ryan Kempf|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 3, 2012
Anyone know when the earliest the needles area is climbable in the spring? Trying to plan a mid May trip.
From: Altadena, CA
Apr 3, 2012
This year, with snow levels as low as they are, it is entirely possible that the trail could open in May or even later this month. Up-to-date conditions at the Ponderosa down the road can be found at www.ponderosaca.com/wx.htm if you want to try and time it.
The area itself is climbable year round, but the main approach is gated and the hike in becomes about twice as long when the road from 190 to the campground is blocked by snow. Expect 60-90 minutes then.
You could always camp at Peppermint Springs and climb on Voodoo Dome if nothing else seems to be workable. Unless it's pissing down rain, there's almost always *something* climbable up there.
|By ryan albery|
Jun 18, 2012
I spent last week climbing at the Needles, and when I stopped at the Ponderosa Lodge for a few beers and asked to see the guidebook they used to have, they told me it was stolen a few years ago. I decided to leave my old copy there for all climbers to use, so they now have this hard to find book if you're needing some info on the area. Hopefully it stays put for many years to come.
From: Vacaville Ca.
Jun 20, 2012
Way super cool on you as I don't have the guide, won't pay out the ass for one and love to climb less traveled routes at the Needles.
Now I can draw topos on their napkins again. THANKS!!!
|By J. Albers|
Jun 21, 2012
Agree with Sal. Thank you Ryan for leaving the guide at the Lodge. Very kind of you.
|By Fat Dad|
From: Los Angeles, CA
Jul 23, 2013
I was at the Ponderosa the last week of June and didn't see the guide hanging on the wall where it formerly was. Did they move it behind the counter?
Dec 3, 2013
Guide is still there hanging on the wall, thanks for leaving it.
|By Seth Finkelstein|
From: Boulder, CO
Apr 4, 2014
Can anyone comment on whether two ropes are necessary for the needles? On that note, can i get by with just a 60m?
|By Matthew Fienup|
From: Ventura, CA
Apr 7, 2014
Retreating from most routes would be exceedingly difficult without 2 ropes. Retreating from a few routes would be impossible without 2 ropes.
I once had to make a harrowing descent down the side of the Magician, using a single 60m rope. Since there are spots on the Magician where descending with a single rope is impossible, we had to do a long, improbable traversing pitch to gain a crack system that allowed for a single-rope descent. Everything worked out in the end, but life would have been vastly easier with a second rope.