I’ve always loved being outdoors so when I first moved to Bakersfield, I thought “Now what?”. At first glance, it didn’t seem like the type of place that is known for hiking and recreational activities. But the more time I spend living here, the more trails and outdoor destinations I keep discovering near the city or within a quick drive.
With a variety of locations from serene nature preserves and beautiful cliffside walks to remote mountain trails, there is an adventure and a hike for everyone.
So whether you’ve lived in Bakersfield for a while, or just moved here and are looking for outdoorsy things to do, here are 10 of the best hikes near Bakersfield, California!
1. Panorama Bluffs Park
Panorama Park, also called The Bluffs is notoriously one of the most popular green spaces in Bakersfield. When I first moved to Bakersfield and asked around for suggestions on places to go for walks, everyone’s answer usually was “Have you been to the Bluffs yet?”.
Panorama Bluffs is a beautiful and well-maintained park just slightly north-east of Bakersfield’s downtown. With clean walking paths, lots of trees, shrubs, and plants, Panorama Bluffs Park is one of the most popular places to escape the busy city life. It is also easily accessible with plenty of parking that can be found along Panorama Drive road.
One of my favorite hikes at the Bluffs is the 2-mile-long Panorama Park Loop Trail that travels next to a cliffside and offers sweeping views of Bakersfield, Kern River, and the nature preserve next to it.
I love coming here for quick afternoon walks to enjoy the scenery and the beautiful art displays that were added as part of the Panorama Park beautification initiative. My friend is one of the artists featured here so it’s pretty amazing to see her artwork as I hike along these trails.
But as with any big city greenspaces, there are some downsides too. Panorama Park is located next to a major street that overlooks oilfields and has a lot of traffic, people, and noise. There are also A TON of squirrels that live at this park so that’s something to keep in mind if you bring your dog and they like to pull you.
Location: 901 Panorama Dr, Bakersfield, CA 93305
Read More: Panorama Park Loop In Bakersfield
2. Hart Memorial Park
Hart Memorial Park is a wonderful park just a 20-minute drive outside of Bakersfield. Here you can come to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities from hiking to biking, fishing, picnicking and more. Hart Memorial Park is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a remote park to spend the afternoon, especially on weekends.
Hart Memorial Park is one of the biggest hiking areas near Bakersfield that offers a ton of different trails. There isn’t just one single trail to do here – it’s like a system of trails that span in every direction.
Since there are many trails to choose from, you also get more space to spread out. Some of the trails climb to the top of hills while others follow on the bottom of deeply carved canyons.
Do note that when hiking at the Hart Memorial Park you share the space with bikers and dirt bikers. So, you always need to be vigilant, keep checking for incoming bikers, move over to give space, or hop out of the way.
Location: Hart Park, Bakersfield, CA 93308
Read More: Hiking Hart Memorial Park In Bakersfield
3. Panorama Vista Preserve
Panorama Vista Preserve is one of my favorite places to go for nature walks in Bakersfield. It’s a true hidden gem that not many people know about but offers one of the best outdoor recreational areas within the city limits.
Panorama Vista Preserve is operated by a nonprofit organization with a mission to restore and improve wildlife habitat along the Kern River in Bakersfield. Panorama Vista Preserve consists of 940 acres of land near the downtown where wild animals and nature can not only exist but even thrive. Some wildlife that I frequently encounter at this preserve includes a variety of birds, rabbits, squirrels, beavers, and even coyotes.
Over the years nearly 60,000 trees and shrubs have been planted at the Panorama Vista Preserve along with the endangered Bakersfield Cactus.
You can read about the restoration projects, Bakersfield history, and local fauna & flora as you hike through the preserve – there are a lot of informative plaques and resting benches scattered throughout the park.
The Panorama Vista Preserve offers an inviting place in Bakersfield to enjoy outdoor activities like walking, running, bicycling, and horseback riding. I usually take my dog here for walks a couple of times a week and he absolutely loves it!
Location: 901 E Roberts Ln, Bakersfield, CA 93308
4. Wind Wolves Preserve
If you want to escape into nature for a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday morning, head out to the Wind Wolves Preserve. It is located about a 45-minute drive from Bakersfield, but the drive is well worth it!
Wind Wolves Preserve is one of the biggest nature preserves on the West Coast that is operated by The Wildlands Conservancy group. Wind Wolves Preserve spans over 93,000 acres of land and offers multiple-day hikes to choose from. We recently hiked the 7-mile-long San Emigdio Canyon Trail that is fairly flat and leads along a creek – perfect for first-time visitors!
The Wind Wolves Preserve is open from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm daily and is free to visit. If you’re interested in camping overnight, they also offer free campsites with advanced reservations. You can read more about the San Emigdio campground and make reservations on The Wildlands Conservancy website here.
Similar to Panorama Vista Preserve, Wind Wolves Preserve centers around conservancy efforts especially around rehabilitating endangered animals like tule elk, California condor, and the San Joaquin kit fox. It’s a wonderful place to come enjoy the outdoors, observe wildlife and submerge yourself into nature just a short drive from Bakersfield.
Location: 16019 CA-166, Bakersfield, CA 93311
5. Mount Pinos Trail
Slightly further south from Wind Wolves Preserve is Mount Pinos, a beautiful gem in the Los Padres National Forest.
Accessible for hiking in the summer and for skiing in the winter, Mount Pinos Trail is a 3.5 mile-long hike located in the Grapevine mountain pass. It can be reached from Highway 5 and starts by the Mt. Pinos Nordic Base where you can park and leave your car.
This is a scenic and easy trail that leads through a gentle pine forest and ends at the Mt Pinos viewpoint which overlooks Bakersfield and the Central Valley.
Mount Pinos is a wonderful trail to hike in the summer. While temperatures in Bakersfield during the summer months often spike past 100 degrees, the weather at Mount Pinos stays in the cool mid-70s offering a pleasant escape from the scorching valley heat.
For those who are interested in camping, the nearby Chula Vista Campground offers 12 free camping sites on a first-come-first-served basis.
Location: Forest Rte 9N24, Frazier Park, CA 93225
Read More: Mt Pinos Hike In Los Padres National Forest
6. Kern River Trail
In spring you can expect to see many wildflowers along the Kern River Trail before the Central California heat turns the landscape into a sea of tan. By May the weather in Kern River Canyon is often too hot and unbearable for afternoon hikes unless you get an early head start.
The Kern River Trail follows a narrow path carved into the side of a hill next to the Kern River. If you were to follow the trail to completion it’s around 6 miles long although you can turn around and head back at any point.
The scenery along the way is beautiful passing through gentle rolling hills filled with lush green trees and giant boulders. You might even encounter a herd of cows that reside in these foothills.
Parking can be found in a small lot next to Highway 178, just past the bridge from Delonegha Day Use Area.
Location: CA-178, Bakersfield, CA 93306
Read More: Kern River Trail In Sequoia National Forest
7. Mill Creek Trail
Mill Creek Trail is another excellent day hike in Kern River Canyon. Mill Creek is one of the best wilderness trails near Bakersfield and is especially scenic in springtime when it’s overgrown with wildflowers.
This is a great hike to do with dogs because it offers much-needed partial shade from trees and has multiple creek crossings that are great for cooling off.
The entire trail is 15 miles long and gains around 4200 feet in elevation but when I come here, I only do short sections as far as I feel like going. Sometimes it’s not about checking off the trail from your bucket list, but just about getting outdoors for fresh air and forgetting about our everyday worries.
The Mill Creek Trail can also be used for mountain biking and horseback riding. Parking can be found along Kern Canyon Road/Cort 214 near the trailhead but come early if you want to find a closeby spot.
Location: Mill Creek Trail Head, Kern Canyon Road
Read More: Hiking Mill Creek Trail In California
8. Unal Trail
Unal Trail is located further away from Bakersfield but it’s one of my favorite trails to do in the summer. It travels through a lush forest full of cedar and pine trees that keep this trail shaded and cool.
The 3.5 mile-long Unal Trail climbs up steady switchbacks to an overlook of Sequoia National Forest before looping back down. At the top of the overlook, you can explore time capsules that people have left over the years, or add your own!
The hike starts in Alta Sierra which is a small mountain neighborhood north of Lake Isabella. Unal Trail rarely gets busy offering a wonderful escape from the summer heat and crowds.
Plenty of parking is available across from the USFS Summit Fire Station. Once you park your car, you will spot a large trailhead sign which marks the beginning of the hike.
Read More: Hiking Unal Trail In Sequoia National Forest
9. Trail of 100 Giants
For an easy stroll between towering Sequoia Trees head out to the Trail Of 100 Giants. It is one of the most popular hikes in Sequoia National Forest and leads through an impressive Sequoia grove with some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world.
Here you can expect to see enormous trees which compare to the ones at Sequoia National Park except you don’t have to deal with endless crowds and expensive National Park passes.
The Trail of 100 Giants is only 1.3 miles long, easy, and flat. A few of the trail highlights include the Proclamation Tree which is over 2000 years old, a few fallen giants, and the Goose Pen which has a window-like opening at the center of it.
The visitor parking lot is located across from the trailhead off highway M-90. It takes about 2 hours to reach the Trail of 100 Giants from Bakersfield so you can do it as a day hike with an early head start or camp at the adjacent Redwood Meadow Campground.
Location: Co Rte 107, Porterville, CA 93257
10. Dome Rock Trail
Although it’s located over 2 hours from Bakersfield, Dome Rock Trail is one of the most iconic hikes in Central California that offers sweeping views of the mountains that are not something you are soon to forget.
The trail itself is very short and leads hikers to the top of Dome Rock – an exposed granite slab with a steep drop-off below it. You can see Dome Rock as you drive up to it but nothing compares to walking on top of it and feeling so small compared to the expansive mountain views in front of you.
Dome Rock is such a peaceful place to come for an afternoon lunch, watch the sun set over the mountains, or even enjoy star gazing at night.
There is a sandy dirt road that leads to the designated visitor parking lot which is accessible for most cars.
Location: Dome Rock, Springville, CA 93265
I hope this list has helped you pick out some new hikes to explore near Bakersfield. Have you done any of these hikes? Let us know your favorite ones in the comments below!