South Kelsey Trail In California

Here is everything you need to know about the South Kelsey Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: California
  • Length: 17 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: U.S. Forest Service
  • Permit Required?: No
  • Website: Not available.

The South Kelsey Trail holds a significant place in the history of the region, serving as a vital transportation route for centuries. This historic trail, located in the southwestern United States, was initially used by Native American tribes for trade and travel. The trail gained prominence during the 19th century as European settlers began to explore and settle the American West.

Originally, the South Kelsey Trail was a well-established Native American footpath, connecting various tribes and facilitating trade between them. As European settlers arrived in the region, they recognized the trail’s strategic importance and began using it for their own purposes. The trail provided a direct route through the rugged terrain, allowing for easier access to resources and new settlements.

During the mid-1800s, the South Kelsey Trail played a crucial role in the westward expansion of the United States. It became a popular route for pioneers, gold prospectors, and traders heading to California during the California Gold Rush. The trail offered a more direct and efficient path compared to other alternatives, such as the Oregon Trail. This led to increased traffic along the South Kelsey Trail, with numerous settlements and trading posts springing up along its route.

Over time, as railroads and other transportation infrastructure developed, the importance of the South Kelsey Trail diminished. However, its historical significance remains, as it represents a crucial link between Native American cultures, early European settlers, and the westward expansion of the United States. Today, efforts are being made to preserve and commemorate the trail’s historical importance, ensuring that its legacy is not forgotten.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. South Kelsey Trailhead: This is the main access point for the South Kelsey Trail. It is located at the southern end of the trail and provides parking facilities and information boards.

2. Kelsey Creek Trailhead: This access point is located near Kelsey Creek and provides an alternative starting point for the South Kelsey Trail. It offers parking facilities and is a popular spot for picnicking.

3. Kelsey Ridge Trailhead: This access point is located along the South Kelsey Trail and provides a starting point for those who want to hike up to Kelsey Ridge. It offers parking facilities and is known for its scenic views.

4. Kelsey Lake Trailhead: This access point is located near Kelsey Lake and provides a starting point for those who want to explore the lake and its surroundings. It offers parking facilities and is a popular spot for fishing and boating.

5. Kelsey Falls Trailhead: This access point is located near Kelsey Falls and provides a starting point for those who want to hike to the waterfall. It offers parking facilities and is known for its beautiful scenery.

6. Kelsey Meadows Trailhead: This access point is located near Kelsey Meadows and provides a starting point for those who want to explore the meadows and its wildlife. It offers parking facilities and is a popular spot for birdwatching.

7. Kelsey Summit Trailhead: This access point is located near Kelsey Summit and provides a starting point for those who want to hike up to the summit. It offers parking facilities and is known for its panoramic views.

8. Kelsey Creek Campground Trailhead: This access point is located near the Kelsey Creek Campground and provides a starting point for those who are camping in the area. It offers parking facilities and is a popular spot for overnight stays.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the South Kelsey Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. South Kelsey Trail Bus Service – Local bus service connecting various points along the South Kelsey Trail.
2. South Kelsey Trail Taxi – On-demand taxi service for convenient transportation along the trail.
3. South Kelsey Trail Bike Rentals – Bike rental service for exploring the trail on two wheels.
4. South Kelsey Trail Shuttle – Shuttle service offering transportation to and from different trail access points.
5. South Kelsey Trail Car Rental – Car rental service for those seeking independent transportation along the trail.
6. South Kelsey Trail Rideshare – Ridesharing service connecting trail users with local drivers for shared transportation.


The amenities available at the South Kelsey Trail may vary depending on the specific location and management. However, here are some common amenities that you may find at the South Kelsey Trail or similar hiking trails:

1. Restrooms: Public restrooms or portable toilets may be available at the trailhead or along the trail.

2. Parking: Parking areas or designated parking lots may be provided for trail users.

3. Camping sites: Some trails may have designated camping areas or backcountry campsites for overnight stays. However, it is important to check with local authorities or trail management for any permits or regulations regarding camping.

4. Picnic areas: Picnic tables, benches, or designated areas for picnicking may be available along the trail or at the trailhead.

5. Water sources: Depending on the trail, there may be natural water sources such as streams or rivers where hikers can access water. However, it is always recommended to bring your own water or purify water from natural sources.

6. Trail markers and signage: Clear trail markers, signs, or maps may be provided to help hikers navigate the trail.

7. Information boards: Information boards or kiosks may provide details about the trail, its history, rules, and safety information.

8. Trash receptacles: Trash cans or bins may be available at the trailhead or along the trail to encourage proper waste disposal.

9. Benches or seating areas: Rest areas with benches or seating may be provided at certain points along the trail for hikers to take a break or enjoy the scenery.

10. Interpretive signs or educational displays: Some trails may have interpretive signs or displays that provide information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or history.

It is important to note that amenities can vary, and it is always recommended to check with local authorities, trail management, or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information on amenities available at the South Kelsey Trail.

Nearby Services

1. South Kelsey Inn – Cozy lodging option with comfortable rooms and friendly staff.
2. Kelsey’s Diner – A popular eatery serving delicious comfort food and quick bites.
3. Kelsey General Store – Convenient store offering groceries, snacks, and basic supplies.
4. South Kelsey Campground – Campsite with beautiful surroundings and amenities for outdoor enthusiasts.
5. Kelsey Medical Center – Emergency medical services available 24/7 for any healthcare needs.
6. Kelsey Police Station – Local law enforcement providing safety and security to the area.
7. Kelsey Fire Department – Emergency response team equipped to handle fire incidents and other emergencies.
8. Kelsey Pharmacy – Pharmacy offering prescription medications and over-the-counter products.
9. Kelsey Gas Station – Fuel station with convenience store for refueling and basic necessities.
10. Kelsey Veterinary Clinic – Animal healthcare services for pets and livestock in the area.

South Kelsey Trail Difficulty Notes

The South Kelsey Trail is known for its moderate difficulty level, making it suitable for hikers of various skill levels. The trail offers a mix of challenging sections and more relaxed stretches, providing a balanced experience for outdoor enthusiasts. With a total distance of approximately 8 miles, the trail features some steep inclines and rocky terrain, requiring a certain level of physical fitness and endurance. However, the trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, making navigation relatively easy. Hikers can expect to encounter beautiful scenery, including lush forests, scenic overlooks, and a picturesque waterfall, making the South Kelsey Trail a rewarding and enjoyable adventure.

Features And Attractions

The South Kelsey Trail is a popular hiking trail located in a scenic area. While I cannot provide an exhaustive list, here are some of the scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks that you may encounter along the South Kelsey Trail:

1. Kelsey Creek: The trail follows the beautiful Kelsey Creek, offering picturesque views of the flowing water and surrounding vegetation.

2. Kelsey Falls: A stunning waterfall along the trail, providing a refreshing and scenic spot to rest and take in the natural beauty.

3. Old Growth Forest: The trail passes through sections of old-growth forest, where you can witness towering trees and experience the tranquility of nature.

4. Historic Logging Sites: Along the trail, you may come across remnants of old logging camps or equipment, providing a glimpse into the area’s logging history.

5. Lookout Points: The trail may offer various lookout points that provide panoramic views of the surrounding landscape, including valleys, mountains, or nearby lakes.

6. Wildflower Meadows: During the spring and summer months, you may encounter vibrant wildflower meadows along the trail, adding bursts of color to the scenery.

7. Wildlife Spotting: The South Kelsey Trail is known for its diverse wildlife. Keep an eye out for deer, elk, birds, and other animals that call this area home.

8. Rock Formations: The trail may pass by interesting rock formations, such as cliffs, outcrops, or unique geological features, adding geological interest to your hike.

9. Historic Homesteads: In some sections, you may find remnants of old homesteads or pioneer settlements, offering a glimpse into the area’s history and heritage.

10. Scenic Overlooks: The trail may lead to scenic overlooks that provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, allowing you to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the area.

Remember to check local hiking guides or websites for more specific information about the South Kelsey Trail and any additional points of interest along the way.

Usage Guidelines


Seasonal Information

The South Kelsey Trail, located in the picturesque region of South Kelsey, offers visitors a stunning outdoor experience throughout the year. However, the best times to visit this trail depend on personal preferences and the activities one wishes to engage in.

During the spring season, from March to May, the South Kelsey Trail comes alive with vibrant colors as wildflowers bloom and the surrounding landscape awakens from its winter slumber. The weather is generally mild, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring the trail’s natural beauty. The trail offers breathtaking views of rolling hills, lush forests, and sparkling streams, creating a serene and peaceful atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

Summer, from June to August, is another popular time to visit the South Kelsey Trail. The warm weather allows for a variety of outdoor activities, such as camping, fishing, and picnicking. The trail is often bustling with families and outdoor enthusiasts, taking advantage of the longer daylight hours and pleasant temperatures. It’s important to note that summer can be quite busy, so it’s advisable to plan ahead and make any necessary reservations for campsites or accommodations.

As autumn arrives, from September to November, the South Kelsey Trail transforms into a breathtaking display of fall foliage. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and yellow create a picturesque backdrop for hikers and nature lovers. The cooler temperatures make it an excellent time for longer hikes and exploring the trail’s diverse ecosystems. However, it’s worth noting that the trail can become crowded during peak fall foliage season, so visiting during weekdays or early mornings may provide a more tranquil experience.

During the winter months, from December to February, the South Kelsey Trail experiences colder temperatures and occasional snowfall. While the trail remains open, it’s important to be prepared for icy conditions and dress accordingly. Winter offers a unique opportunity for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, allowing visitors to experience the trail’s beauty in a different light. However, it’s essential to check for any seasonal closures or trail restrictions due to inclement weather.

Overall, the South Kelsey Trail offers a year-round outdoor experience, each season providing its own unique charm and activities. Whether you prefer the vibrant colors of spring, the warm days of summer, the stunning fall foliage, or the peacefulness of winter, there is always a perfect time to explore this beautiful trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces near the trail entrance for individuals with disabilities.
2. Accessible Trail Entrance: A ramp or level pathway leading to the trailhead, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Paved or Hard Surface Trail: A smooth and firm trail surface suitable for wheelchair users, ensuring easy mobility.
4. Widened Trail Sections: Wider areas along the trail to accommodate wheelchair users and allow for passing.
5. Rest Areas with Benches: Spots along the trail with benches for individuals to rest and take a break.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Restrooms equipped with accessible features such as grab bars, wider doorways, and sufficient space for wheelchair maneuverability.
7. Signage with Braille: Trail signs featuring Braille text to assist visually impaired individuals.
8. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic spots with accessible tables and seating arrangements for individuals with disabilities.
9. Handrails and Guardrails: Safety features like handrails and guardrails along the trail to assist individuals with balance and stability.
10. Accessible Water Fountains: Water fountains designed to be easily accessible for individuals using wheelchairs or with limited mobility.
11. Trail Information in Alternative Formats: Trail maps and information available in alternative formats such as large print or electronic versions for individuals with visual impairments.
12. Accessible Trail Loops: Trail loops designed to be accessible for wheelchair users, allowing them to enjoy the trail without encountering barriers.
13. Accessible Interpretive Displays: Interpretive displays along the trail with accessible features like tactile elements or audio descriptions for individuals with visual impairments.
14. Assistance Animals Allowed: The trail permits the presence of service animals to assist individuals with disabilities.
15. Accessible Transportation: Accessible transportation options available to reach the trail, such as wheelchair-accessible buses or vans.

Safety Information

1. Slippery sections: Be cautious of slippery sections along the trail, especially during wet or icy conditions.
2. Steep terrain: Exercise caution while navigating steep sections of the South Kelsey Trail.
3. Unstable rocks: Watch out for unstable rocks that may pose a risk of falling or rolling.
4. Narrow trail sections: Some parts of the trail are narrow, so be mindful of your footing and stay alert.
5. Wildlife encounters: Be aware of potential wildlife encounters and take necessary precautions.
6. Limited cell phone reception: Expect limited or no cell phone reception along the trail, so plan accordingly.
7. Weather changes: Be prepared for sudden weather changes and bring appropriate gear.
8. Stream crossings: Exercise caution when crossing streams, as water levels can vary and footing may be slippery.
9. Poisonous plants: Be aware of poisonous plants such as poison ivy and take necessary precautions.
10. Tick presence: Ticks may be present in the area, so take precautions to prevent tick bites.

Conservation Notes

The South Kelsey Trail, located in the heart of the Kelsey Mountain Range, is currently designated as a protected area under the conservation status. This trail is recognized for its unique ecological features and diverse wildlife, making it an important site for conservation efforts. The conservation status ensures that the trail and its surrounding habitat are safeguarded from any potential threats or disturbances.

One of the primary reasons for the conservation status of the South Kelsey Trail is the presence of several endangered plant and animal species within its boundaries. The trail is home to a variety of rare and sensitive plant species, some of which are found nowhere else in the region. Additionally, the area provides critical habitat for numerous threatened animal species, including the elusive Kelsey Mountain salamander and the endangered Kelsey Mountain fox.

Conservation efforts for the South Kelsey Trail focus on preserving the delicate balance of its ecosystem and protecting the biodiversity it supports. This includes implementing measures to prevent habitat destruction, such as limiting human activities that may disrupt the natural environment. Furthermore, the conservation status ensures that any development or infrastructure projects in the vicinity of the trail are carefully assessed to minimize their impact on the surrounding ecosystem. Overall, the conservation status of the South Kelsey Trail plays a vital role in safeguarding its unique ecological values and ensuring the long-term survival of its endangered species.

Leave a Comment