Drive to Kennedy Meadows Campground as described in the “Getting There” section of the main page of Crag Peak. Once in the campground, locate site # 26 at the north end. The Pacific Crest Trail heads north out of the campground adjacent to this site. There is a large day use parking area at the PCT trailhead here.
Walk north on the PCT for approximately 2 miles to a bridge that crosses the south fork of the Kern River. From there, continue on the PCT another 3 miles to Clover Meadow. The five miles along the PCT is very gently graded and is a pleasant walk through desert scrub, pine forests (burned in the last few years), and meadows.
When you reach Clover Meadows along the PCT, there are endless possibilities to reach the summit of Crag Peak. Basically, you need to head northwest or west (depending on when you leave the PCT) and walk cross country to the Crag Peak ridge that runs north-south parallel to the PCT.
You are likely to encounter brush no matter which route you choose, however, due to the recent fires, it may be less than in the past. I left the PCT when due east of the true summit of Crag Peak and walked west to the summit ridge. The cross-country is mostly Class 1 with a few sections of Class 2. On the route I took, the brush seemed the heaviest between 8,200 – 8,500 feet. Other than that section, it was fairly easily avoided.
You can approach the true summit from either the south or north along the summit ridge. The route from just north of the true summit crosses a knife edge with some exposure, then easy Class 3 for the remaining few feet to the summit. The knife edge can be scooted along without standing for those afraid of heights or if it’s windy.
The route from just south of the true summit climbs an easy Class 3 section to get on the summit ridge and then follows along the ridge for approximately 100 feet to the true summit.
From Kennedy Meadows Campground, this hike is approximately 14 miles roundtrip with 3,500 feet of gain.
No special gear is required for this climb. An ice axe and crampons may be needed if climbing in the winter for the steep slopes after leaving the PCT.