Riding areaCannell Trail
AKAThe Cannell Plunge
Climb DifficultyBlack Diamond
TTFs on trailDrop, Jump, Rock Face, Rock Garden, Roller Coaster, Skinny
Land ManagerNational Forrest Service
The Cannell Meadow Trail - AKA The Cannell Plunge - is the crown jewel of the Kern Plateau. This trail has lots of everything - lots of crazy descending, long flat buff runs along big meadows, rocky and difficult climbing, fire roads, stream crossings, wildlife, wildflowers, forest, desert, and best of all incredible views of the Kern River Valley and Lake Isabella far, far below.
Having a net elevation loss of nearly 7000' and a total loss of 8000' over 25 miles is only part of the reason this ride is nicknamed "The Plunge." The true reason comes in the second half of the descent, where the rider drops from 7300' on the edge of the Kern Plateau directly down to 2700' at the Kern River just north of the town of Kernville. This ride is certainly the 'big fish' of the region. There are few other rides in the area that can match the drop of The Plunge, and those are mostly fire road or paved road routes. The Plunge is nearly all singletrack, with only a few connector sections of fire road.
Though it is certainly possible to do this ride as a loop, almost nobody is endowed with the super powers required for such a feat. I have read one account in a guide book where the author attempted the ride as a 2-day 'mini tour' with a planned bivouack. This ill-fated journey turned into a 3.5-day epic when the author got lost on the descent, left his bike behind, and scrambled for many hours through classic Southern Sierra bushwhack terrain.
The only practical way for mortals to do this ride is as a shuttle run. There are a few commercial shuttle services available, the most popular being Mountain River Adventures in Kernville. Prices are reasonable, but they require at least 4 customers to make a trip. Group rates are available, as well as specials and 2-day packages, particularly during their October Fat Tire Fest.
Private shuttles are feasible, and for this I recommend leaving one car in Kernville, then driving up Sherman Pass and camping in the vicinity of the trailhead. Sleeping at least one night at the higher elevation (~9000') will help with acclimatization to prevent accute mountain sickness (AMS) or just plain sluggish performance at altitude.
Kernville (Lower) Trailhead:
From the junction of Highways CA-99 and CA-178 in Bakersfield, head east on CA-178 to Lake Isabella. Exit at CA-155 and head north through Wooford Heights. Continue, now on Burlando Road, to Kernville. At the 'T' intersection where Burlando Road meets Sierra Way (Mountain Road 99), go left and drive just north of town, passing the Mountain River Adventures campground, and park at the signed Cannell Meadow Trail parking area on the right side of the road.
From the junction of Highways CA-14 and CA-178 in Inyokern, head west on CA-178 over Walker Pass and through Cane Break and Onyx to Sierra Way (Mountain Road 99) on the east side of Lake Isabella. Drive north around the lake and through Kernville, passing the 'T' intersection with Burlando Road. Continue to the signed parking for Cannell Meadow Trail on the right.
Northwest From Porterville:
From the junction of Highways CA-99 and CA-190 in Porterville, head east on CA-190 and drive up through Springville and Camp Nelson, then continue south where the road becomes Mountain Road 50 near Ponderosa. At the junction with the Parker Pass Road, go left and descend to Johnsondale. Where the Parker Pass Road intersects Mountain Road 99, go right and continue approximately 15 miles south to Kernville, where the signed Cannell Meadow Trail parking will be on the left, opposite the river.
Sherman Pass (Upper) Trailhead:
From Kernville Trailhead:
Head north on Mountain Road 99 approximately 10 miles to the Sherman Pass Road, which heads east just north of a high bridge over the Kern River. Head east and drive up the Sherman Pass Road to 9100' Sherman Pass. There is a large parking area here. More parking and good camping can be found along the Mosquito Meadow Road, which leaves the Sherman Pass Road about 1 mile west of Sherman Pass.
Local Trail Association
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More Stats for The Cannell Meadow Trail mountain bike trail
Altitude change-1,345 ft
Altitude min7,761 ft
Altitude max9,386 ft
Altitude start9,120 ft
Altitude end7,776 ft
Distance climb3 miles
Distance down5 miles
Distance flat2,049 ft
Avg reverse time00:02:20
- view trail stats
- Snow Packed
- Snow Covered
- Freeze/thaw Cycle
- Prevalent Mud
- Very Dry
The Cannell... Trail Reports
Jul 16, 2018 @ 7:37pmJul 16, 2018
|Major erosion (major ruts or slumping, large boulders and roots exposed due to erosion) Upper section has lots of exposed rocks and the middle...|
Oct 25, 2017 @ 11:58amOct 25, 2017
|Cannell Plunge trail is in excellent shape as of 10/20/2017 with no downed trees. Plunge section has loose sand (as usual) and some plant...|
Oct 16, 2017 @ 7:29amOct 16, 2017
|great conditions overall. No downed trees. Some overgrowth towards the plunge. 9/10 for sure.|
May 29, 2017 @ 10:40pmMay 29, 2017
|Not sure how the trail is from Sherman Pass but is good to go from Big Meadow. A few downed trees|
May 26, 2017 @ 4:28amMay 26, 2017
|Snow,fallen trees going to be another month or so before rideable|
Routes with this trail
|The Cannell Meadow Trail (IMBA Epic)||25 miles|
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