by Greg Maher
Indian Wells Valley in east-central California covers nearly 400 square miles in the northeastern part of Kern County and is characterized by a hot, dry, climate and terrain ranging from flat desert lands to Sierra Nevada foothills. Primarily rural in nature, the area is home to the communities of Inyokern and Ridgecrest, and is located roughly 100 miles east of Bakersfield. Alta was selected to develop a Trails Master Plan that will include a local trails network that takes into account the complex needs of the area’s residents and visitors for safe, accessible, and appealing recreation facilities in and around these locations while managing the relationship between off-road mountain bicycling, equestrian uses, and off-highway vehicles (OHVs). The existing trails in the area vary greatly in their condition, from narrow hiking and mountain biking trails, to hard-packed, graded dirt roads crossing the desert and ascending into the Sierra. Reaching out to users of the existing facilities for their insights into improvements to existing facilities and ideas for new ones will be a critical piece.