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Isabella Peak Lookout Trail – Kern River Valley Hikes
Isabella Peak Lookout Trail
Summary: This is a fun hike as long as it’s not too hot out. Link to trailhead:Google Map link. Length: 2.5 – 3 Miles. Distance changes based on route taken. Difficulty: Class III Matt’s Rating: Excellent Good resources:Forest Service page. All Trails page.
Good views all the way up.
My preference for hikes tends to be loop trails instead of out and backs because the whole route is new terrain. This is a combination of both as you can take a different route towards the end.
From the KRO office the trailhead is only five minutes away, which is a bonus for me but not necessarily for any readers and probably pumps up my own personal rating a bit. I enjoy this hike as you have a good view for most of the way and the halfway and summit offer spectacular views of Lake Isabella, so the reward is well worth it.
From the trailhead the elevation gain looks intimidating but I found I was distracted by the lake view so often that I didn’t really notice it. And as of this writing I’m significantly out of shape (hey, it’s the off season) and I was still able to grind it out pretty easily.
The trail is well maintained and easy to follow.
From the parking lot, cross the entrance to Hungry Gulch and pretty much immediately keep your eyes peeled for a trail off to your left. Once you hit this keep working your way up and west. The trail will split a couple different times but I’ve found as long as you keep heading up and west, you won’t find yourself getting lost. Granted, you can start the hike at a much closer location, but what’s the fun in that?
Halfway through, you’ll come across an Instagram worthy section where you might spot an influencer in the wild. This is a good place to take a break and if you’re like me, admit to your hiking buddy that flip flops were the wrong choice of footwear. (I do this every time though, so I don’t think I’ll ever learn.) Snap a couple pics, and then keep heading up. Once you hit the summit you’ll find a bench, and of course a view. Enjoy.
View from the summit bench.
On your way back you’ll have an option to take a different path as you near the end. I’m a fan of changing it up so I usually take the time to explore a new route.