The Jackass Peak Loop is an excellent medium-sized loop with easy climbing and an incredibly fun singletrack descent. Many options exist on this loop, including a '100% singletrack' option for the purist. This trail may also be linked with other major trails in the area if one is in need of more mileage.
The scenery on this loop is typical of the southern Sierra Nevada. Most of the riding is done in dense fir and pine forests, with some beautiful little groves of quaking aspen along the way. Many meadows are passed while riding beneath the stately granite domes that pepper the Kern Plateau.
PAVED CLIMB OPTION:
The easiest way to ride the loop is by climbing paved roads to approach the final short climb up to Jackass Peak. From Fish Creek Campground, head northwest on the Sherman Pass Road to Blackrock Ranger Station and go right on FS Road 21S03. Head north, climbing gently for about 4 miles to FS 21S36. Go right and descend a ways, then ride a long loop around the north end of Smith Meadow. Cross another meadow and resume climbing southeast beneath the south face of Granite Knob. The road turns to dirt and passes several nice campsites in an aspen grove, then ends at a large parking area. From the back of the parking area an abandoned road leads further up the mountain to the Albanita Trail. Go right on the Albanita Trail and follow this to the base of Jackass Peak and the Jackass Creek Trail.
SINGLETRACK CLIMB OPTION:
The more interesting option involves taking the Fish Creek Trail directly from Fish Creek Campground. This trail is somewhat sandy in places, but mostly a nice climb. The trail follows the Sherman Pass Road for 3 miles, past Troy Meadow Campground, then turns north up Fish Creek. Follow for several more miles to the Albanita Trail, then go right. Continue on the Albanita Trail to the Jackass Creek Trail.
The Jackass Creek Trail is almost entirely downhill, ending at the entrance to Fish Creek Campground. The trail is sandy in places, but mostly excellent packed duff and meadow pack. The trail follows the canyon of Jackass Creek, passing first among the big granite domes of Peak 9187' and Smith Mountain, then through Jackass Meadow. A few dirt road crossings are encountered, and a well-built bridge over Jackass Creek, then the trail ends at the Sherman Pass Road directly across from Fish Creek Campground.
Getting ThereEAST APPROACH:
From Highway US-395, go west on Nine Mile Canyon Road. Continue through Kennedy Meadows and up the Sherman Pass Road to Fish Creek Campground.
From Highway CA-178 in Lake Isabella, go north on CA-155 to Wooford Heights, where the highway becomes Burlando Road. Continue on to Kernville and go Left (north) on Sierra Way, which becomes Mountain Route 99 and follows the Kern River to the Sherman Pass Road. Go right and follow the Sherman Pass Road up over Sherman Pass, past Blackrock Ranger Station, and on to Fish Creek Campground.