Tehachapi Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes to do in the Central California region. It’s easily accessible from Tehachapi city and within a short drive, you can experience hiking in remote mountains that overlook the valley below them.
This trail is also located just an hour’s drive from Bakersfield so many people travel here from Bakersfield and the nearby towns to enjoy cooler weather and outdoor recreation activities, especially in the summer. As Bakersfield locals, we’re always in search of new hikes in the area, and this one just jumped to the top of our list!
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail is 5 miles long and gains nearly 2000 feet in elevation making it a short, yet challenging day hike. In terrain and overall expectations, it’s very similar to the Mt Pinos Trail in Los Padres National Forest which is another wonderful mountain trail in this region.
Trail Location & Parking
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail starts at the Tehachapi Mountain Park. This is a beautiful park covering nearly 500 acres of land that are used for recreational activities like camping, hiking, and horseback riding. In the winter this is also a popular destination for winter fun like snowshoeing and snow play.
As you enter the park, you will see a large sign with a map of the park and the available campgrounds at the entrance gate. If you plan on camping overnight, this is where you would register and pay $18 for the overnight camping fee. For day visitors, the entrance is free.
The Tehachapi Mountain Trailhead is located at the far end of this park, just past several of the campsites. Parking is available near the trailhead along the main road, although it can fill up quickly, especially on the weekends.
Two trails start at the same location, the Tehachapi Mountain Trail and the Nuooah Nature Trail. The Nuooah Trail is only 0.25 miles long yet visits 20 interpretive sites along it.
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail is not listed on Google Maps so you can set your directions for the Nuooah Trail. Or you can look up Tehachapi Mountain Trail on the AllTrails app and set directions on there – both will lead you to the same starting point.
Once you get to the trailhead and park you will see a sign that says “Tehachapi Mountain Trail / Elevation 6039 feet / Distance to Peak 2.5 miles”. This is the trail starting point.
About Tehachapi Mountain Trail
If you’re looking for a great beginner-friendly trail that is also a bit challenging and will make your legs sore for days, Tehachapi Mountain Trail is it!
This short trail starts gradually but gains nearly 2000 feet in elevation over 2.5 miles. The last .88 miles of it are the hardest and climb straight up a mountain to an overlook.
I highly recommend wearing good hiking shoes with grip for this trail because it is pretty steep coming back down and I even slipped and fell a few times. It can also be challenging for your knees and hips so take your time and go slowly.
Dogs are welcome to use this trail and we saw many people out hiking with their four-legged friends. There are trashcans near the entrance but not anywhere along the trail so be prepared to bring out any trash.
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail leads through a serene forest passing multiple viewpoints along the way. Although the viewpoints are not as epic as some other trails in California, it’s still a wonderful day hike that offers an incredible escape into the mountains.
Our Experience Hiking The Tehachapi Mountain Trail
We started our hike at 10 am, after driving here from Bakersfield. When we got to the trailhead, there were already quite a few cars and people heading out into the trail.
Thankfully the trail itself is very wide and there is plenty of room to spread out so we felt remote and in solitude, despite being so close to Tehachapi city.
The first section of the Tehachapi Mountain Trail is the most confusing. Immediately after entering the trail, it split into multiple routes. Essentially, they all lead to the same location, but to help you navigate this part, I recommend using AllTrails or Maps.Me hiking app.
At the first junction, we made a left and traversed up along the hill. It seemed that most people kept going straight and we had ventured into a steeper shortcut. But a few minutes in, this side trail joined up with the main trail and we were back on track.
From there on the entire hike was pretty straightforward. It follows a wide path that will lead you directly to the top.
This trail starts off with a gradual elevation gain and keeps going at a steady pace uphill for most of the time. As it climbs in elevation it does get harder, especially at the end. But it just means that the way back is a breeze going straight down.
The wonderful part about this trail is that it leads through the forest for the entire time providing much-needed shade and escape from the heat.
We hiked the Tehachapi Mountain Trail in mid-April and there were even still some snow patches on the ground that were great for our dog to cool off in. This trail goes pretty high up into the mountains so the higher you go, the cooler it gets.
The Tehachapi Mountain Trail is easy to follow and is well marked throughout. Right before reaching the last section, you will see a sign that says “Tehachapi Mountain Trail / Elevation 7054 / Distance To Peak .88 miles”.
This is where the steep part starts that climbs straight up. If you’re not up for it, you can always turn around and head back. The trail at the top flattens out and leads to an overlook of the surrounding mountains, but much of the view is obstructed by trees.
Although it looks like the trail keeps going from here, you will see a sign that says “Posted and Patrolled. Hunting, fishing, trapping or trespassing for any purpose is strictly forbidden. Violators will be prosecuted”.
This is the end of the trail and anything beyond this point is private property that is not accessible.
Here you can take a break and enjoy the cooler weather and a snack before heading back. The way down is the same as the way up so whenever you are ready, just turn around and start hiking back down.
Personally, the way down for me felt a lot more challenging than going up. Thankfully this steep leg-burner section is only .88 miles long so it was over before I knew it. If you have trekking poles, they can be really helpful in this part!
Overall, it took us a couple of hours to complete the Tehachapi Mountain Trail with frequent stops and photo breaks. It’s the perfect weekend hike to get out into nature away from the city and enjoy being outdoors in the fresh air!
Other Visitor Tips:
- There are restrooms near the trailhead if you need to use them before or after the hike.
- There is a trashcan at the park entrance gate. Please carry out any trash that you may have.
- There is no water anywhere on the trail. Be sure to pack enough water for your visit.
- There are 61 available campsites on a first-come-first-serve basis, if you wish to camp at Tehachapi Mountain Park overnight. It costs $18 for a campsite per day that can be paid for by the entrance gate.
Shop My Favorite Hiking Gear
- Merrell Mix Master Trail Running Shoes that are perfect for day hikes
- Nike One Luxe leggings that are made from sustainable materials
- A comfortable flannel shirt – great for hiking and camping outdoors
- Polarized Sunglasses to help with harsh sunlight
- Sunscreen which is essential for hiking in California
- Reusable water bottle with a filter
- Headlamp and a first aid kit for emergencies
- Portable phone charger in case your phone runs out of battery
- A light day pack. I use the REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack which fits everything I need for a day hike and comes with a breathable back & mesh straps for extra comfort.
Tehachapi Mountain Trail is a wonderful hike in California that offers beautiful scenery and a great workout! If you’re looking for more things to do in the area, check out these posts next:
- 10 Of The Best Hikes Near Bakersfield, California
- Mt Pinos Hike In Los Padres National Forest
- Hiking San Emigdio Canyon Trail At Wind Wolves Preserve
- 7 Wonderful Things To Do At Lake Isabella All Year Long
- Hiking Isabella Peak – Coso Mine Loop Trail In California
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