Best Hiking Trails in Domeland Wilderness
Domeland Wilderness is a protected area in California.
Short trail report for most of domeland from 06/18/20:
Just completed a short backpacking trip from Big Meadow, to Manter meadow, to Little Manter meadow, down to Rockhouse valley, up along the kern river, back across the Domeland trail to Bart dome, back to Manter meadow, and then finally returning back to big meadow.
From big meadow to manter meadow: The trail doesn't seem to have been maintained too recently but, due to people hiking through the area, is still incredibly easy to follow and a nice walk.
Manter meadow: Some maps show a loop that goes all the way around manter meadow: There is really only a trail on the western portion of the meadow. There is no trail that loops around the northern part of the meadow at all. There is a trail that loops around the southern portion but it is unbelievably overgrown with primary succession from the fires (really really spiky bushes - it's awful to walk through. Surprisingly, there is a semi-visible trail on the western side of the meadow that connects to the trail leading to little manter meadow. To summarize: The only well maintained trail runs the western portion, anywhere else is going to require some bushwhacking or walking off-trail across the meadow to get to.
Manter meadow to little manter meadow: Despite none of the trails looping around manter meadow being maintained, the trail that runs from the eastern side of manter meadow all the way down to little manter meadow is still very visible, easy to follow, and seems to be in good shape (not much overgrowth at all). To get to the trail, we just trailblazed our way from the western side to the eastern side of the meadow and re-met up with the trail leading to little manter meadow. This trail is easily visible and, likely due to foot traffic, seems well maintained all the way up to just before dropping down into Rockhouse meadow.
Manter / Little manter meadow to Rockhouse: The trail along here is completely fine and easy to follow (also very pretty), but right before the decline into Rockhouse meadow / Rockhouse valley the trail disappears almost completely and is incredibly hard to follow - do not attempt this without GPS because you will be walking off trail for most of the decline into Rockhouse.
Rockhouse valley trail along the kern (not the PCT portion): The trail seems to be an old abandoned dirt road. It is highly likely that it's no longer passable by card, but it does work well as a trail for foot traffic. It's challenging to follow in certain areas but, for the most part, it's not crazy difficult.
Manter meadow to bart dome: The trail is well worn and is quite easy to follow. It doesn't seem like it's been maintained because there's a few areas of overgrowth, but it's still easy to follow and is in quite good condition. This trail ENDS at bart dome.
Between Bart dome and Rockhouse valley (the Domeland trail): There is absolutely NO trail. There are blazes to mark out where the trail used to be which is mildly helpful, but quite a few of them have been lost or fallen off and is still challenging to follow. Like I said, there is NO trail at all. You will need GPS to navigate any portion of Domeland between Bart dome and Rockhouse valley / the kern. It's also quite exposed (sierra desert) and so sunscreen / long-sleeves is neccessary.
Water report: There is dwindling water sources. Almost all streams are dried up. Sources that had a good amount of water remaining: manter creek, the south fork of the kern, Tibbets creek, and trout creek. There were a few other trickles here and there but I would absolutely not rely on them, even if they're marked on a map.
tl;dr: Big meadow to manter meadow, little manter medow, bart dome, and the peak right before dropping into rockhouse meadow all have well-established trails. Rockhouse valley trail that runs parallel to the PCT is a decently followable abandoned dirt road. There is no trail between bart dome and rockhouse valley, and, with the exception of a few blazes to guide you, is incredibly difficult to follow and will require GPS. Water sources are limited, but manageable if you're smart. Manter creek, trout creek, tibbets creek, and the south fork of the kern were the only rivers with a decent amount of water.