15 Highest-Rated Hiking Trails near Bakersfield, CA

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Located between two National Forests, Bakersfield offers more amazing hikes than many realize. From mountain peaks to river canyons to paved urban routes, Bakersfiled’s trails are diverse and plentiful.

If you are searching for a weekend adventure or a simple location for workouts, the suggestions below will help you find a perfect trail.

Hiking trails near Bakersfield:

  1. Mount Pinos Trail
  2. Unal Trail
  3. Tehachapi Mountain Trail
  4. San Emigdio Canyon Trail
  5. Three Peaks From Nordic Station
  6. Kern River Trail
  7. Kern Canyon Trail
  8. Mill Creek Trail
  9. Powers Peak
  10. Isabella Peak Trail
  11. Hart Memorial Park
  12. Kern River Parkway Trail
  13. Remington Ridge Trail to Lightner Peak
  14. TMTA Lehigh Trail Loop
  15. PCT: CA Section F – Tehachapi Pass to Walker Pass

1. Mount Pinos Trail

  • Highlight: Highly-rated, short hike to the 8,847-foot summit; breathtaking views all the way; well-maintained trail.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 3.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 515 feet
  • Time to Complete: 2h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Parking: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 63 miles (1h 15 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Mount Pinos Trail is a 3.6 mile out and back trail near Frazier Park. It’s great for runners and hikers.

It’s a moderate hike, with some steeper sections across 515ft of elevation; during winter months, it’s made more difficult by snow.

The views from this trail are stunning, and there’s plenty of shade along the way to cool off on warmer days. The path is well-maintained, so easy to navigate, too.

Be cautious during the winter because fallen snow makes the trail slippery. It’s best to avoid at this time of year if inexperienced.

Reaching the top of Mount Pinos for the stunning views is well worth the hike, and because it’s so popular, the path is wide and easy to follow.

2. Unal Trail

  • Highlight: Popular trail through the woods with sequoias, mostly shaded; gentle climb to Unal Peak (6,838 feet).
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 728 feet
  • Time to Complete: 1h 30 min
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Trailhead Parking: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 56 miles (1h 15 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Unal Trail is a 3.2-mile loop trail near Wofford Heights that’s used by hikers, runners, and mountain bikers regularly.

It’s a moderate trail, rising 728ft in total, with some parts being steeper depending on the direction you take the loop.

There are benches at the top of this trail, providing opportunities to sit back and enjoy the views, with plenty of wildlife around en route too!

During one portion of the hike, there is a section with loose rocks that can easily have you rolling an ankle in improper footwear, so be cautious.

Besides that, it’s a well-developed and moderate hike giving you a taste of the sequoias in tranquility without too many crowds taking over the space!

3. Tehachapi Mountain Trail

Tehachapi Mountain Trail
Photo: L RCC BY 2.0
  • Highlight: Steep, strenuous climb to the 7,960-foot peak; rich flora and fauna; shaded walk with breathtaking views.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,311 feet
  • Time to Complete: 2h 30 min
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Tehachapi Mountain Park Parking: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 50 miles (1h)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Tehachapi Mountain Trail is a 5 mile out and back trail near Tehachapi. Dogs are allowed on leash, and it’s popular with hikers and scramblers.

This trail is rated as moderate for its 2,311ft of elevation, most of which takes place steeply in the last mile to the summit of Tehachapi Mountain.

The views at the top are wonderful, with opportunities to spot wildflowers and wildlife on your hike up the summit.

Scrambling to the last section of the hike is hard, and the area is used for logging and hunting, so being cautious is essential on the entire route.

Although the route itself is well-maintained, large portions of views are blocked, which feels disheartening. But the views from the summit make this all worthwhile!

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Bakersfield

4. San Emigdio Canyon Trail

  • Highlight: Fantastic hike along the San Emigdio Creek; stunning canyon views; option to loop via El Camino Viejo Bike Trail. Great for running.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 813 feet
  • Time to Complete: 3h 30 min
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: San Emigdio Campsite: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 38 miles (45 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

The 7 miles out and back San Emigdio Canyon Trail is one of the best hiking trails near Bakersfield, perfect for hiking and walking.

Although 7 miles, it only rises a total of 813ft, and so it’s a hike that’s perfect for all skill levels.

The views over the San Emigdio creek are stunning the whole way, with opportunities to see the flowing river below most of the year.

While it is easy for most skill levels, there is one particularly steep section, so rest regularly en route in the shaded areas to prepare.

The route parallels the San Emigdio creek, is well-maintained and very popular, with plenty of developed areas with bathrooms and benches as you hike.

5. Three Peaks from Nordic Station

  • Highlight: Strenuous trail that ascents three peaks: Pinos, Sawmill, and Grouse; runs through shaded forests; has breathtaking views; fantastic challenge.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 10.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,001 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5h 30 min
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Trailhead Parking: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 63 miles (1h 15 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Three Peaks From Nordic Station is a 10.3 mile out and back trail near Pine Mountain Club. It is used for hiking, walking, and backpacking.

Climbing 2,001ft over the 10.3 miles, this is a testing trail meant for the most experienced hikers.

The challenge and views from Mount Pinos, Sawmill, and Grouse Mount are stunning, but reaching them all in a single day is not for the faint-hearted.

It’s best to be cautious with this hike, as it’s deceptively easy until returning, where the climb back up Pinos is a real challenge.

The path is simple to follow until Grouse, where using a GPS to find the peak is recommended. The trail itself is well-maintained, despite the low traffic, which is excellent!

6. Kern River Trail

Kern River Trail
Photo: David~OCC BY 2.0
  • Highlight: Very scenic hike parallel to the river; the narrow hilly path with little shade; best in spring.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 6.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,062 feet
  • Time to Complete: 3h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Lay by off Route 178, opposite the trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 30 miles (40 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Kern River Trail is a 6.2 mile out and back trail near Bodfish popular with horseback riders, mountain bikers, and hikers.

1,062ft of elevation is gained on this hike. Also, it’s rated as moderate because of the narrow trail overlooking the steep drop to the river below.

The views of the river are beautiful the entire way, with lots of cows along the route too, who move willingly out of the way when approached.

With cows come cow patties, though, and this can be a little off-putting for some. The thin trail overlooking the river may also worry some hikers.

Although it’s difficult to find the trailhead, the path is clearly marked the entire way, and following the Kern River is a genuine treat.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Bakersfield

7. Kern Canyon Trail

  • Highlight: Same location as the previous hike; hilly single-track path popular with MTBs and trail runners; fantastic flowers display in spring.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,486 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Lay by off Route 178, opposite the trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 30 miles (40 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Kern Canyon Trail is a 9.4 mile out and back trail near Caliente. It’s great for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers.

With 1,486ft of elevation, the trail offers a moderate challenge. Although the gradient isn’t steep in any sections, the gradual climb can become tiring after a while.

The first third of the trail is also nicknamed the wildflower trail for the beautiful wildflowers in spring. And there are plenty of views of the surrounding areas towards the top of the trail.

Kern Canyon Trail is beautiful, with plenty of wildlife and beautiful, diverse plant life along a well-maintained path!

8. Mill Creek Trail

  • Highlight: Tough hike with various terrain and a few shaded areas; the first 5 miles are the hardest.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 15.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,383 feet
  • Time to Complete: 8h
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: At the Trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 30 miles (40 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Mill Creek Trail is a 15.5 mile out and back trail near Caliente. It’s primarily used for hiking and backpacking.

But with 4,383ft of elevation gain, this trail is strenuous, mixing length and height for a real trial for hikers.

Those who can push through the challenge are rewarded with plenty of bird-watching opportunities, beautiful views at the top, and stunning wildflowers.

Be aware that the inclines and declines are steep on a rocky, sandy, and loose trail. Snow is also common in early spring and over the winter, making it more challenging to navigate.

The path itself is well-maintained and easy to follow but is a real challenge year-round due to snow in winter or the combination of heat and a lack of shade in summer.

9. Powers Peak

  • Highlight: Moderate trail with a very steep ascent at the end; well-marked but no shade; great workout.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 10.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,064 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Cannell Meadow Trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 55 miles (1h 10 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Powers Peak is a 10.1 mile out and back trail near Kernville, popular with hikers and those on nature trips wanting to see wildlife.

Rated as moderate for the 3,064ft elevation gain, it’s also strenuous during the last couple of miles of the hike.

There are breathtaking views from the Powers Peak summit and sections that overlook the beautiful Cannel Creek below.

The final incline up to Power Peak’s summit is grueling, and the path is rocky and loose in places at multiple points on the trail, with little shade.

Bring plenty of water, come prepared with proper footwear, and you’ll be rewarded with a challenging hike with beautiful vistas from the summit.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Bakersfield

10. Isabella Peak Trail

Isabella Peak Trail
Photo: David~OCC BY 2.0
  • Highlight: Family-friendly, short hike to Isabella Peak; sweeping views of the lake; well-maintained and easy to follow.
  • Type: Out and Back/Loop
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 524 feet
  • Time to Complete: 1h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Hungry Gulch Campground: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 45 miles (55 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Isabella Peak Trail is a 2.3-mile loop trail near Wofford Heights. Walkers and runners use the route to get their exercise in.

Rated as moderate for the 524ft elevation over a short period, it can be testing for complete beginners.

The sweeping view of Lake Isabella at the top makes the challenging hike worth it, and the wildflowers en route are a treat in spring.

The path is relatively narrow in places; it can be tight when passing fellow trail users.

Reaching the top of Isabella Peak is a gift, with beautiful views in all directions. It’s well-marked and fun to follow if a little challenging in places!

11. Hart Memorial Park

Hart Memorial Park
  • Highlight: Plenty of trails that can be looped together to create any length. Hilly terrain with little shade.
  • Type: Out and Back/Loop
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 524 feet
  • Time to Complete: 1h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Mirror Drive: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 10 miles (15 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Hart Memorial Park offers beautiful hiking trails near Bakersfield. Every route here is popular with people of all skill levels, and some are even kid and dog-friendly.

The beauty of Hart Park is that there are many intersecting trails throughout. All of which can be changed to be as easy or as challenging as you like.

Many of the trails take you through the better-known ascents and descents through the bluffs, and there are plenty of gorgeous views, wildflowers, and nature to explore.

These intersecting hikes can be testing for people arriving without prior research, so make sure you know the difficulty level of your specific planned hike, and prepare for it!

Every trail you’ll find in Hart Memorial Park is well-maintained, well-developed, and beautiful, and very easy to follow since they all can loop back to where you started.

12. Kern River Parkway Trail

  • Highlight: The fully paved route that cuts through Bakersfield; family-friendly and with many access points. 
  • Type: Point to Point
  • Trail Length: 20.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 246 feet
  • Time to Complete: 8h
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Parking: S Enos Lane: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 17 miles (20 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

The Kern River Parkway Trail is a 20.7-mile point-to-point trail passing through Bakersfield. It’s popular with runners, walkers, and cyclists.

Although lengthy, it only rises by 246ft, and it’s mostly flat the whole way, so it’s easy for all skill levels. Wheelchair users and families with strollers can use this trail easily.

Although a paved cycling route, it’s very popular with hikers who like to walk long distances and take in all the amazing sights along the Kern River.

It is a wonderfully maintained paved route, and it takes you through developed areas with plenty of amenities.

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Bakersfield

13. Remington Ridge Trail to Lightner Peak

  • Highlight: Challenging but stunning trail to the 6,375-foot peak; views of Lake Isabella and surrounding mountains.
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Length: 12 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,071 feet
  • Time to Complete: 6h
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Kern Canyon Road near Trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 37 miles (55 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

Remington Ridge Trail to Lightner Peak is a 12 mile out and back trail near Caliente. It’s a quiet route reserved for hikers and backpackers.

This trail is strenuous, with 4,071ft of elevation over 12 miles. Only the most experienced adventurists should attempt this trail.

Reaching the summit is testing because it’s demanding, and the last quarter mile to the summit requires a GPS because the path is easy to lose.

The views at the summit are stunning, and the path is lined with wildflowers and wildlife spotting opportunities, too.

Be aware that although the last quarter mile is hard to follow, the rest is well-marked. However, snow during early spring and winter is an issue for this challenging trail, so come prepared.

14. TMTA Lehigh Trail Loop

TMTA Lehigh Trail Loop
Photo: JoeCC BY 2.0
  • Highlight: Developing area famous for MTBs with lots of other hikes; the trail is in excellent condition, easy to follow, and has lovely views.
  • Type: Loop
  • Trail Length: 10.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,272 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5h
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Parking: Burnett Road at the Trailhead: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 42 miles (50 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

TMTA Lehigh Trail Loop is a 10.7-mile trail near Tehachapi. It’s popular with hikers, runners, and mountain bikers.

It’s a moderately strenuous hike elevating 1,272ft, with some challenging and rocky areas. Also, it can be hard to navigate in places as it loops towards the top of Tehachapi Mountain.

The vistas from the upper loops are stunning, and this trail is perfect for anybody wanting a great hike with amazing views and beautiful wildflowers.

This trail is excellent for hiking but very popular with mountain bikers too. It is also narrow, so it’s better to stay aware of MTBs at all times.

That said, the trail is well maintained, as all are in the Tehachapi Mountain Trails Association, and always well marked and easy to follow!

15. PCT: CA Section F – Tehachapi Pass to Walker Pass

PCT: CA Section F
Photo: lhogue46CC BY 2.0
  • Highlight: Experience the legendary 2,650-mile PCT trail; the dry and dusty section with stunning views; the perfect backpacking challenge.
  • Type: Point to Point
  • Trail Length: 81.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 14,202 feet
  • Time to Complete: 5-6 days
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Parking: Off Highway 58 or Cameron Canyon Road: Google Maps
  • Distance from Bakersfield: 50 miles (52 min)
  • Dog Friendly: Yes

This section of the infamous 2,650 mile PCT trail is a little more manageable at just 81.5 miles from Tehachapi Pass to Walker Pass.

Manageable does not equal easy, though, as this stretch is tough, with an elevation gain of 14,202 ft over the 81.5 miles.

Many people enjoy this trail as a day hike by turning back whenever they want. Yet, you can attempt the whole length as a backpacking expedition which should take 5-6 days to complete.

This PCT section is arid and careful planning is necessary when attempting the whole length.

With that said, it’s a stunning stretch of trail that’s easy to follow. There is plenty of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes to take in. But more importantly, it’s a test like no other. 

Related: 7 Best Lakes near Bakersfield

Final Thoughts

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a complete beginner, Bakersfield is an excellent location for outdoor adventures.

The trails above are some of the highest-rated in the area and will satisfy even the most fastidious hikers. 

If you don’t mind traveling further afield, check out the highest-rated trails in the Fresno area.

And for hiking motivation, see Funny and Inspirational Hiking Quotes.

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