Whenever we drive through this special slice of the state we always start humming, Merle Haggard’s Kern River, a sad song about a girl drowning in its swift waters. And more recently, the last song that the old Hag recorded, Kern River Blues. Located only about 15 minutes from downtown Bakersfield, the closest access to the river from Highway 178 winds along its banks for about 30 miles before reaching Lake Isabella. A number of pullouts are located along the highway allowing one easy access down to the river.
A number of outfitters in the area offer rafting trips. Other activities include biking, hiking and fishing (the annual Isabella Lake Fishing Derby has been held every March for more then 30 years).
Lake Isabella is about an hours drive from downtown Bakersfield. This gorgeous lake often contrasts sharply with the more arid landscape, its blue waters very inviting on a hot summer day. One can access its shoreline for fishing or swimming.
And continuing east on the 178 one eventually reaches Walker Pass, the lowest pass through the southern Sierra Nevada mountains. One the way up to the pass, one passes a unique zone where pine trees are growing with Joshua trees.
The Kern River Valley website is a good source of additional information, visit: www.kernrivervalley.com