Mountain Bike Rides in the Kern River Valley and Southern Sierra Lower Cannell Trail

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An excellent heart-pounding ride on singletrack close to Kernville.

Lower Cannell Trail Photo
When there are spring flowers, the upper trail still has snow.

Blue/Black Diamond

THE STATS
1-20+ Miles.
500-5,000 feet of climbing.
500-5,000 feet of drop.

Loop.

 

On the Trail

A couple miles north of Kernville, The Cannell Trailhead provides a great workout on the lower sections of one of the most popular trails around. If the name Cannell is not familiar, click here to see what all the hype is about.

Lower Cannell Trail Photo
Pedalling toward Harley Rock & Powers Peak.

The lower Cannell Trail is 100% pedal-able, but riders with legs unaccustomed to climbing might struggle a bit, especially in the initial steep section.

A couple miles up trail, there are some short technical challenges as the trail enters a series of switchbacks.

Great cross country riders who have mastered the art of pain will sometimes climb all the way to Pine Flat (the top of The Plunge with more than 5,000 feet of climbing), which in most years will be melted out by April with its primarily south facing exposure.

Another worthy goal is to climb to the Harley Mountain saddle, where a steep hiking trail ascends the spectacular peak/viewpoint where gold was discovered in the 1800s! To get to this saddle, you'll have to climb a relentless 4.5 miles with 2,400 vertical feet of climbing. Sidenote: An 'Old Mule Trail’ descends the west face of the mountain, but it's quite overgrown. 

The shortest worthwhile ride would be up to 'Windy Gate,' or down an offshoot trail into the valley just beyond. Its hardly more than a 3 mile ride, but demands a solid 800 foot climb. Just before the final slope below the Windy Gate, there is a trail split. Taking an old road (now a trail) to the right is the easier climb, while the lefthand split is more fun for descending.

Elevation Profile for the short ride to Windy Gate

Lower Cannell Elevation

Lower Cannell Trail Photo
Fast singletrack below Windy Gate.

Trailhead

Drive north of Kernville on Mtn 99 / Sierra Way for 2 miles, and look for the trailhead on the right.

Dont Get Lost!
Kernville Adventure Map

This trail and optional routes are depicted on the local adventure map:

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Map Details