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The Kern River Parkway Trail spans the east–west length of Bakersfield along the Kern River, a waterway that drains the Sierra Nevada range but is often dry by the time it reaches the inland city. Most of the lands on both sides of the river in Bakersfield are preserved by the city as riparian areas where native wildlife, including roadrunners and bobcats, is protected from the threat of encroaching development.
The trail's rural western end will make you forget you are within Bakersfield city limits, but that changes as you reach your first undercrossing at S. Allen Road. Here, residential subdivisions stretch to the southeast as far as the eye can see. At Stockdale Highway and Don Hart Drive East (less than a mile east of S. Allen Road), a spur provides convenient access to California State University, Bakersfield.
The suddenly more urban trail continues eastward, proceeding through several city parks with water and restroom facilities. Note that the eastern half of the trail is noticeably hillier than the western half. Just before the trail's comes to a head at the mouth of Kern Canyon, you'll traverse a landscape dotted by the working rigs of the Kern River Oil Field, the third largest oil field in California.
Plans are in the works for an extension of the trail's western end, connecting to the Buena Vista Lake recreation area. On the eastern end, a disconnected segment of the trail was built between Fairfax Road and the Kern River County Park and Kern River Golf Course around Lake Ming. This portion of trail leaves the banks of the river to travel through the undeveloped rolling hills northeast of the city, before rejoining the river and giving trail users convenient access to the numerous nearby athletic fields and recreation facilities.
Trail access and parking is available from several city parks off Truxtun Avenue west of State Route 99. Additional parking can be found where the trail crosses Manor Street and at the trail's western trailhead on Enos Lane (SR 43).
Parking for the northeast segment of trail is available by the California Living Museum zoo, located at 10500 Alfred Harrell Highway in Bakersfield.
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