Tehachapi often marks the first touchstone for Pacific Crest Trail hikers, a hike that spans from the Mexico border to the Canadian border by Mount Whitney. The trail covers 2,652 miles total and passes through six out of seven of North America’s eco-zones. A major achievement for thru-hikers, the Pacific Crest Trail in Tehachapi has many nice day hikes for those visiting Tehachapi.
Hiking alone can be treacherous and if you’re feeling queasy about solo hiking, meetup.com, the PCT Facebook page and trailangellist.org can be helpful, not only with travel partnerships but also with lodging and transportation.
Some hikes must be done with a guide, like those at Tomo-Kahni State Park. Hikers might encounter large predators: black bears, mountain lions and coyotes. Smaller, but dangerous predators you might encounter on the Pacific Crest Trail are rattlesnakes, scorpions and spiders. Be prepared and be cautious.
Willow Springs Road Trailhead
The trailhead is at the intersection of the Tehachapi-Willow Springs and Cameron Canyon roads. From here, there are two options:
Hike Cottonwood Creek in the Antelope Valley, 22 miles.
Hike among the wind turbines toward Highway 58, 5.9 miles
The Cottonwood Creek hike is steep when it approaches the ridge toward Bean Canyon, but levels out at the top. It may be hard to discern where the trail is at times because the trail is used for off-road vehicles. Bring your own water because the trail provides no water sources.
If you’re seeking a leisurely, informative hike, the route among the wind turbines is your hike. The hike can be windy and has no water sources either, so pack accordingly. At the end of the hike learn about wind turbines and their presence along the Pacific Crest Trail in Tehachapi.
Highway 58 at Cameron Canyon Road Trailhead
This trail isn’t for the light-hearted as it quickly ascends to the top of Waterfall Canyon in about 8 miles. Those with bad knees might want to bring a walking stick as the elevation is steep, about 2,000 feet. This trail is craggy and for those with resilience.
One route is to the head of Waterfall Canyon, 8.3 miles, to view some fantastic geological formations. If you’re up for the challenge, you can hike another 8 miles to Golden Oak Springs, a year-round spring nestled inside a serene and secluded glade. This is bear country so be prepared by keeping food items sealed, concealed and not in your tent.
Tehachapi Mountain Park
You don’t have to travel too far outside of Tehachapi for this trail. Eight miles outside Tehachapi, this trail is great for hikers, nature-walkers and campers of all levels. If you’re seeking some education on the area, the Nuooah Nature Trail, complete with 20 markers of points-of-interest loops one-quarter mile of the park. If you’re up for the challenge, hike to Woody’s Peak. Take time to plan where to park, as space is limited and close to private property parking. For more information, visit co.kern.ca.us/parks/tehachapi.asp or call the Kern County Parks Department at 661-868-7000.
Tomo-Kahni State Park
This historical park is a unique archaeological site that has been protected since 1993. Home of the remnants of an early Kawaiisu village, Tomo-Kahni is between an overlook of Sand Canyon and Tehachapi Valley, to east and west respectively.
Tomo-Kahni, or “winter village,” is only accessible by tour due to the archaeological and environmental sensitivity of the site. The tours are weekend only, presented by volunteers, during the fall and spring months. It begins with an orientation at the Tehachapi Museum. For more information, visit parks.ca.gov or call the state parks department at 916-653-6995.
Golden Hills Nature Park
Golden Hills Nature Park is a great trail for amateur and leisure hikers alike as it winds alongside Woodford-Tehachapi Road. Visitors can expect great views, birds in flight and other local wildlife. There’s about 5 miles of recreational use trails for walkers, hikers, equestrians and cyclists alike. The names of the trails are Woodford Trails, Brite Creek, Clover Spring and White Pine. White Pine is on the back nine of a former golf course. The Golden Hills Community Services District is pursuing grants for barriers to keep off-highway vehicles and other motor vehicles out of the park.