by Dona Schilling, PVP Trails Manager
This issue’s “Trail Spotlight” focuses on the Bobcat Pass Trail located on the north side of the Kern River. This trail is one of my top 3 favorites (I know, I say this about all of our trails!). Famous for its teeming wildlife and beautiful scenery, it is a very popular destination for photo opportunities. This is a 2 mile trail that runs along the Kern River from the Panorama Vista Preserve’s parking lot on the west end all the way to the weir at the east end.
There is much to see along this trail beginning with abundant wildlife. Over the years sightings have been plentiful and include ducks, geese, coyote, bobcat, egret, blue heron, bald eagles, turtles, rabbits, raccoon, beaver and hawks just to name a few.
If you are inclined to take a short deviation from Bobcat Pass, you will find that Pasha’s Trail parallels Bobcat Pass. Watch for the trail marker to Pasha’s trail and turn right to get down closer to the river; turn left to ride Pasha’s trail to the end where it will turn left taking you up the trail back to Bobcat Pass. Once you reach the top, turn right and continue on Bobcat Pass. If you decide not to try the detour, be sure to look across the river where Pasha’s trail starts where you will have a perfect view of one of the most popular places to cross the river on horseback. It is a very popular place for photographers as well! Be careful – the crossing can be deep at times so if you decide to cross make sure it is safe first!
Once you are back on Bobcat Pass Trail continue east. This trail has a few ups and downs and a few blind curves, making it a bit more challenging. There are many great photo opportunities along the way for our camera enthusiasts!
As I mentioned earlier, Bobcat Pass has been the source of many Bobcat sightings for years. Near the east end of this trail I encountered my most memorable sighting. My small group was riding on the single track trail from the weir heading west. The sun was shining brightly overhead. The trees provided much shade in the area between the Kern River and the trail but in a few places the sun broke between the leaves creating a bright area in the middle of all the foliage. On this day I observed a big log off the trail about 15 yards away which was illuminated by the sun’s rays. I didn’t think very much about it at that moment but my eye suddenly caught movement in the protected area. Upon closer observation I witnessed a female bobcat laying on the log. It was absolutely stunning, but there was more! At the base of the log were 3 baby bobcats running and jumping in determined play mode! Their mother was not overly concerned about us as we quietly passed by, however her eyes never left us while she made sure her kids didn’t stray from her and her log. This image has been forever ingrained in my mind and I feel truly blessed to have observed it (not to ignore the blessing of not being eaten!)
Bobcats are still seen from Bobcat Pass Trail and just a few weeks ago my friend and I were riding this trail traveling west when we happened to come upon a lone bobcat kitten playing with leaves and sticks just a few yards off the trail! We did not see mama, but I guarantee she had a bead on us until we were well away from there! We have also come upon numerous coyote and just 2 weeks ago we saw a turtle that had traveled up from the Kern River to bury her eggs! We gave her a large birth so as not to disturb her.
As a side note, I mentioned that the trail has several ups and downs as well as blind curves. In an effort to avoid horse/ bicycle encounters this trail is closed to bicycles. New signage has been ordered and will be in place within a few weeks.
This trail is home to a plethora of wildlife as well as plants, flowers and trees. Take time to visit this beautiful area and enjoy all it has to offer – don’t forget your camera!