City Escape: Bakersfield, California

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

This varied loop ride east of Bakersfield features a visually striking state park and a massive desert lake. It also boasts a series of great roads lined by an intriguing mix of desert plants, evergreens, and whimsical Joshua trees. Itís an escape suitable for most any time of year except mid-summer, when it can be oppressively hot at the lower elevations of the ride.

Length

Approximately 182 miles

Meetup Spot

Copeís Knotty Pine Cafe, 1530 Norris Rd, Bakersfield, CA

Lunch Stop

Sierra Vista Restaurant is a consistently fine restaurant in a relatively remote location. It offers a varied menu, heavy on sandwiches and steaks, and mid-level pricing. Find it at 16575 SR 178, Weldon, CA, (760) 378-2923.

Scenery (4 out of 5)

This route is filled with agricultural regions, vast deserts, lowland forests, and interesting water features. The elevations and topography make for some wonderfully unspoiled views.

Difficulty (3 out of 5)

This is a nontechnical ride. There are rarely blind corners on the southern and eastern portions of the loop. However, the northern stretch is more winding, requiring more attention to side traffic, wildlife, and the possibility of fallen rocks.

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

The roads on this loop are remarkably well maintained. Watch for sandy sections, especially on SR 14.