As the Valley temperatures start picking up in the summer, we have been searching for new hikes to do in Sequoia National Forest. Unal Trail has been on my hiking list for a while but it’s located an hour and a half away from Bakersfield so it’s not exactly close to where we live.
We finally put our excuses aside and made it out to hike the Unal Trail. It follows through a gentle forest full of cedar and pine trees and leads to a viewpoint of the nearby Sequoia National Forest.
We really enjoyed hiking this trail especially since the trees keep this area shaded and cool. It’s a great place to go hiking if you’re looking to escape the summer heat and to stretch your legs.
About Unal Trail
Unal Trail is around 3.5 miles long. This hike is a great beginner trail because it’s not too lengthy yet not too short either.
Unal Trail goes in a loop so you can start and end the hike at the same spot. It does gain over 700 feet in elevation and climbs steadily up for the first part, but overall, the elevation gain is gradual so it’s not overly difficult.
This trail can also be used for mountain biking. When hiking in this area keep an eye out for any mountain bikers – although we didn’t run into any during our hike.
Unal Trail is dog friendly so we brought our pup along with us. There are no water sources along the hike so make sure to bring plenty of water for yourself and your pup.
We visited Unal Trail in the summer and it was easily doable but do note that in the winter and early spring this trail can have a lot of snow due to the high altitude.
Unal Trailhead Location
Unal Trail starts in the Alta Sierra Neighborhood that’s located a couple of minutes north from Wofford Heights & Lake Isabella.
To get to the Unal Trailhead you can take Route 155/Evans Road from Wofford Heights for about 15 minutes and then make a right on Rancheria Road.
There is a designated area to park off Rancheria Road across from the USFS Summit Fire Station. This is a basic dirt parking lot with one porta-potty that was available for visitors and hikers.
If you’re unsure where to go, follow AllTrails map for the trailhead location.
In Google Maps Unal Trail is marked in a different location off Forest Route 25S17. This might be a second entrance into the trail but from what I saw you need a 4WD vehicle to enter Forest Route 25S17. Instead, we started the hike at the main trailhead entrance off Rancheria Road.
After parking, we spotted Unal Trailhead signs in the forest along with a large map and some general hiking rules.
Trailhead Location: USFS Summit Fire Station, Rancheria Road, Wofford Heights, CA 93285
What To Expect
From the designated parking lot, we crossed Rancheria Road and made our way to the Unal Trailhead.
The hike starts in the forest with some switchbacks and climbs along a narrow path.
Unal Trail goes in a loop and within a few minutes, we reached the turnoff where the loop connects back to the starting point. You can either keep going straight or make a turn and do the trail counterclockwise.
The scenery is very similar going both ways so it doesn’t make a difference which way you go. We decided to make a turn and go counterclockwise.
The path along Unal Trail was narrow but well maintained. During the entire hike, we were surrounded by the forest with fresh outdoor scents and nature sounds all around us.
This trail doesn’t offer many panoramic views nor it passes large sequoia trees, but it was very refreshing and rejuvenating just being outdoors.
After making our way steadily uphill we reached Unal Peak at the top that overlooks the nearby landscape.
The Unal Peak overlook was obstructed by growing trees but we could see some views of the mountains in the distance.
Once we reached the top, there were some benches for resting along with stacked rocks and time capsule boxes that people have left over the years.
We took a quick break, ate a snack, and checked out some of the time capsules that were filled with notes and pictures. But it was pretty windy at the top so after resting we kept going.
Unal Trail goes in a loop you can just continue along instead of turning around and going back the same way.
Unal Peak overlook was the highest point of the hike so from here on the path steadily led us down and connected with the starting point.
Despite hiking Unal Trail on a weekend we only ran into a few other hikers. The remote location of this trail makes it one of the least visited hikes in the area unlike the popular Mill Creek Trail in Kern Canyon that gets pretty crowded.
After completing the hike we drove back down to Lake Isabella and let our pup run around the lake to cool off before heading back home.
If you’re looking for more things to do near Lake Isabella check out our post that covers 7 wonderful things to do at Lake Isabella – all year long!