Canebrake Ecological Reserve
Photo © Alison Sheehey
Canebrake Ecological Reserve (CER) is a 1420-acre wildlife sanctuary that was purchased by the California Dept of Fish & Game (DFG) in 1994.
DFG acquired the ranch with the valuable assistance of many partners including agencies such as the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Other partners included members of non-profit conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and Audubon Society. In 1996 the former Bloomfield Ranch was officially designated by the California Fish and Game Commission as the Canebrake Ecological Reserve.
A chip seal, paved, wheel-chair accessible trail leads from the parking area off of Highway 178 through a Joshua tree woodland to a wooden bridge that crosses Canebrake Creek. The path then winds through a riparian forest restored by Audubon and Fish & Game in 2000. The 1.5 mile long trail dead ends at a picnic area under the rocky cliff of the Chimney Peak area in the Domelands Wilderness. While there is no hunting on the reserve, hunters can access federal lands via this trail. There are no restroom facilities or water at the CER and there is no cell phone reception in the Canebrake area.
(Other sections of the Ecological Reserve in the area are for the benefit of wildlife and are currently closed to the public).
Recreation in the Canebrake Ecological Reserve including hiking, picnicking, birding, wildlife observation, and photography.
The historic Bloomfield Ranch rock house sits on the property. Unfortunately, a chain link fence obscures the pictorial view of this magnificent structure. The land remains a working cattle ranch beyond the trail as agreed to when the purchase was made. This makes for some nice photographic opportunities of cattle in a wild setting. The trail is mostly level and a great hike for people of all ages. This is also a great birding spot year-round and especially during migration and during the summer. The Joshua tree forest adjacent to the riparian forest creates an environment where one can find dozens of species that are absent or rare downstream. (The CER is 9.7-miles east of the Audubon Kern River Preserve on Hwy 178.)
In winter, hawks are common. Golden Eagles nest in the nearby mountains. Other wildlife include: Raccoon, American Black Bear, Bobcat, Coyote, Mountain Lion, Gray Fox, Mule Deer and various rodents.
Open year round. Dawn to dusk.
How to get there: The CER is located along Highway 178, 21 miles east of Lake Isabella, 9.7 miles east of the Kern River Preserve, and 4.5 miles east of the town of Onyx in northeastern Kern County. Public access is via the dirt parking lot on the north side of Highway 178 just before the big curve in the road. You need an able bodied person to open and shut the gate at the entrance to the parking lot (DFG staff are working to put in a cattle guard so this hopefully won't be the case for too much longer). There is an information sign and map at the head of the public use trail. Leave gates the way you find them or follow posted instructions.
ADA compliant trail. Unfortunately, the gate that leads to the parking area is not ADA compliant.