Back in June, we were going to meet some friends at a campsite by the Kern River and decided to take the scenic route through Jawbone Canyon Rd. and Piute Mountain Rd. Those two are definitely crossover friendly trails that are a lot of fun and pretty scenic to boot.
Jawbone Canyon Rd. rises out of, wait for it, Jawbone Canyon. After climbing out of the canyon, it runs along a ridge for a few miles. Windmills are your friends while on the ridge and make for a fun addition to the view.
The road then flattens out in Kelso Valley as you ride along ranches and grasslands. The feeling of the valley is quite peaceful and it’s always cool to see wide swaths of grass in California.
Out of the valley, the climb soon starts up Geringer Grade. Geringer Grade offers up spectacular views, but it’s also very steep. In the Subaru, I found it necessary to use 1st gear as even 2nd gear caused the car to lose speed. Switchbacks galore might also have your head spinning.
Past Geringer Grade, the elevation gain isn’t quite as intense. The drive becomes more relaxing, running along a ridge top forest with views and places to camp on either side. It would be a great place to spend a night, but we already had plans.
Jawbone Canyon Rd. ends at a three way intersection with Piute Mountain Rd. A left turn will take you to Lake Isabella while a right turn takes you back to the Mojave. We turned left.
Piute Mountain Rd. starts in the same forest, but soon turns into more ridge running.
Which is great because the views from the trail into Lake Isabella are amazing. When we were there, it was slightly hazy, but even then the grandeur was apparent.
The descent down towards Lake Isabella was rather steep though, and possibly the most rugged of the entire trail, featuring some rocks that might puncture a tire for the unwary.
The steep descent soon led us to an intersection with Caliente Bodfish Rd. (a great sports car road, by the way) and our date with the pavement. We turned onto the bitumen (I’ve obviously watched too many Australian videos), and headed north to meet our friends at the campground.
Sadly, that was the last time the Forester tackled any serious trails.