Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

Winter walk: Ripley Woodlands

Day Trippin' with Mel

Cabin fever is a real thing. It's described as "the psychological symptoms that a person may experience when they are confined to their home for extended periods. Such symptoms may include feelings of restlessness, irritability, and loneliness."

Who among us hasn't experienced a little cabin fever in this era of corona virus and persistent variants, which has meant continuing closures of restaurants, businesses and places of entertainment and culture, not to mention quarantining directives, including self-quarantining for self-protection?

So over the last couple of years we haven't been able to do many of the things we are used to doing, and staying at home for days or weeks or months can take a toll. Getting out and about may have been something we took for granted before, and these days whenever we can get out of the cabin, it seems like a real treat.

I love taking day trips, always have, but I haven't been able to do much of that over the last couple of years. A few months ago, however, I agreed with The Loop newspaper to write a column about things to do in a day in our immediate area, and I'm finally able to get started.

In the upcoming weeks I'll visit both indoor and outdoor places (as they reopen) and let you know about places you might safely visit. Feel free to email me with any questions, or especially with any suggestions about places I might visit and write about.

I'm starting today with a visit to the Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodlands State Park in the Antelope Valley because all things considered, it's about as safe and easy as you can get these days. It's free, and it's outdoors and not a crowded major destination; masks are optional.

Plan on about a 60 mile trip one way, more or less depending on where you start in the Tehachapi area and which route you take to get there (directions below). Make sure you have gas in your car as there are few opportunities to fill up on the way. The park is a great place for a winter day trip, where you might go for an easy hike and a picnic, alone or with family or friends.

The park was donated by and named for Arthur "Archie" Ripley and features a few groomed and designated level walking paths (complete with self-guided trails) through an impressive forest of old Joshua trees and scrub brush. I went a couple of Mondays ago and it was a beautiful day in that neighborhood, about 64 degrees at the park, bright blue skies and lots of sunshine ... and not another human being in sight.

There are three picnic tables available, two under cover from the sun, and there is a porta-potty there. Be advised that there is no running water in the area and while leashed dogs are welcome in the picnic area, they are not allowed on the trails.

A number of birds, mammals and reptiles make the woodlands their home but the day I was there was so quiet when a bird did fly over I could hear its wings whooshing. I didn't see any critters that day but I did see identifiable scat and many holes to underground homes.

Take a picnic, take a walk through the Joshuas, enjoy the quiet of a unique desert woodland. And be sure that whatever you take in, you also take out with you to keep the park as clean as you find it.

Directions: One way you can get there is via the "backroads" through the windmills on Tehachapi Willow Springs Road, then south on 90th Street West and right or west on Avenue I, past the Poppy Preserve about seven miles (the paved road curves a few times and you end up on Lancaster Road). Or you can take the 58 to Mojave, the 14 South and then on State Road 138 (which is Avenue D), turning left or south on 210th Street West to Ripley's. The park is on the north side of Lancaster Road and vehicles are not allowed. Park off the road by the fence and go through the pedestrian gate on the path that will take you to the picnic tables and informational boards. There is no admission fee.

Be sure to take water and sunscreen, even for a winter afternoon.