Meet the Toughest Mountains in California

The Tehachapi Range May Intimidate High-Speed Rail Builders, but This Stubborn Barrier Actually Ties the State Together

The Tehachapi Mountains have a blanket of snow as hundreds of vehicles, many of them stopped overnight, move along Interstate 5 near Gorman, Calif., shortly after it reopened after a snowstorm closed California's main north-south artery in the Tehachapis Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2009.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Don’t mess with the Tehachapis.

California has taller mountain ranges, more famous mountain ranges, even more beautiful mountain ranges. But no mountains here are tougher—or more important—than the Tehachapis.

A mishmash of mid-sized peaks that extend some 40 miles across southern Kern County and north Los Angeles County, the Tehachapis effectively form the wall that defines our state. This is their paradox: The Tehachapis at once separate and connect California’s regions—north and south, valley and desert, Sierra Nevada and coastal range.

As a barrier, the Tehachapis—the name is often attributed to the …

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