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.
Approximately 182 miles
Cope's Knotty Pine Cafe, 1530 Norris Rd, Bakersfield, CA
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.
Points of Interest
Cèsar E. Chavez National Monument
Resting on over 100 acres in Keene, CA, the monument pays tribute to Chavez, who was the spearhead for wage and working condition reform for farm workers. Chavez and his contemporaries are credited with forming the first agricultural labor union in 1962.
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Sitting at the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada range, the park offers beautiful desert cliffs and rock formations in an array of pastel hues. Traces of the areaís long and interesting human history includes Kawaiisu Indian petroglyphs and remnants of 19th-century mining. The park also maintains and protects significant paleontology sites.
Kern River Preserve
It will involve a short stint on a dirt road, but the preserve is an amazing spot to view riparian wildlife. The Audubon Society, which manages the facility, says the preserve protects 100 species of nesting birds and more than 250 species of birds throughout the year. It is also home to over 40 species of mammals, 53 species of butterflies, 25 species of reptiles, and over 300 species of plants.