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Level: Advanced
Length: 30 mi (48.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: One-way
Elevation: +946/3 ft
Total: 30 riders

Mountain Biking The Cannell Plunge

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#39 of 1,000 mountain bike trails in California
#636 in the world

This is not an easy ride, but the last 8 miles which is called the Plunge makes everything worth it. Try to get an early start, we didn't get hit the rail until 2 so we ended up riding back in the dark. The trail starts out at 9,900 elevation at Sherman Pass and for the next 15 miles it felt like every time we rode down we had to peddle back up which was quite exhausting at that elevation or any elevation. The Plunge is the last 8 miles of the trail and drops 5,000 feet in elevation in only 8 miles. This part of the tail makes all the hard work completely worth it. The single track was amazing and on the side of the mountain so quite the adrenalin rush! Sorry I don't have much to offer on directions since I rode it in the beginning of the summer I don't remember the forks in the road to well. We stopped in to Mountain River Adventures in Kernville and they gave us a mapped and were very helpful. They also offer a shuttle to the top of Sherman Pass if you don't have an extra car.

First added by scooter_ on Sep 13, 2012. Last updated May 7, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
To shuttle:Go to Kernville (take highway 178 east from Bakersfield), head North out of town along 155 (I think). Keep going North along the river until you see a sign on the right for Sherman Pass. Turn right and head up to the pass. Your ride will end in Kernville so if you are lucky and got a ride have them wait for you in town. It takes about 1 hour to reach the pass from Kernville.
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Dv_Cho (on Sep 7, 2019)
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Dusty (on Nov 5, 2018)
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  • dbmtb70

    This Trail is not for the faint of heart or any but seasoned MTBer. Rode it 6/24/2017 and there was still some snow, lots of trees across the trail. Also lots of water in several places making parts of the trails almost im-passable. For now, plan on going around all meadows to not destroy the trail. This is more an adventure than just a ride, following the trail, you will have to hike-a-bike in several sections. Bring as much water as you can, then some, I went through 3 liter & 2 Gatorade bottles. Also get ready for heavy breathing due to the elevation.

    Completely agree with the guest review on 6/11/20116!

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  • k2rider

    What a blast. This ride is definitely an Epic and one I suggest anybody living in the Southwest to get out and try. Every type of terrain imaginable is present and I suggest you be on your 'A' game because there is plenty of potential for things to go bad.

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  • Steve Hansen

    Get to Kernville, which is approximately 50 miles northeast of Bakersfield. You may want to camp the night before (many commercial campgrounds are available) so you can shuttle up early the next day. Drive / Shuttle up to Sherman Pass. The trail begins directly south from the large paved area.

    Right away the trail drops down on loose dirt and woop-de-woops. Be aware, motorcycle use is also allowed on this trail. There is some climbing in the next 2-1/4 miles before you get a little break overlooking Mosquito Meadows. After the meadow you have a mile long grinder up to a saddle. This is where you'll remember that you are above 9,000 feet. The saddle at 9,400 feet is a great place to break and knock back some snacks.

    From the saddle you're going to drop down to Big Meadow. This is one of the most technical sections of the ride. Despite the big drop of The Plunge, it is not the technical part of the ride. The descents leading to it have the drops, rocks, trees, roots, and other obstacles.

    You'll know once you arrive at Big Meadow. It is quite striking in contrast to the rest of the ride as it is so big and flat. This is also where you ride on your first section of fire road. You'll follow the fire road around the north and west sides of the meadow. There are single tracks that peel off, but try to stay within sight of the road. Don't find yourself going over barbed wire IN to the meadow. Once you are around the meadow on the South side, you'll intersect with a fire road that goes left to a horse staging area.

    From here you can either go to the left and downhill and catch the Cannell trail when it crosses the fire road (hard to spot) and then go up a brutal section of singletrack that is a hike; or you can stay to the right and climb the fire road up. The Cannell trail intersects (crosses) the road after the brutal singletrack uphill section.

    Now rejoining the Cannell Trail singletrack on the right side of the Fire Road you're going to have a .6 mile 10% 'push' of a climb. After, you'll get a fun drop down to Cannell Meadow where the trail will briefly turn to Fire Road, but look for the singletrack to continue on the left. For the next 2.5 miles you'll meander in and out of the meadow as you work your way south. Near the south end of the Meadow there is cool rock formation that really stands out.

    The south end of the meadow gives way to somewhat narrow canyon that Cannell Meadow creek runs through. This canyon has some technical sections that will require some slow speed skills as you have some tight spots to weave and squeeze through. After this technical section you'll come out to Pine Flats on a fire road. Pick up the trail to your left and continue on. There is a barbed wire fenced gate shortly after the trail starts to turn slightly downhill. Make sure to put the gate back up behind you.

    You are now at the beginning of The Plunge. The trail rolls smooth with a few technical patches here and there. Right away you'll not be on the pedals much as you just lay off the brakes and start screaming. Shortly after you start on the plunge you'll come around a turn and WOW! You'll have an incredibly amazing vista of Lake Isabella far below. From here it is an absolute bomb fest that just keeps going and going and going. As awesome as the trail is it is worth it to stop occasionally just to take in the views. There is one short steep rise in the trail about 1/3rd of the way down. After that, the trail gets looser and you'll have some switchbacks that can trip you up if you're not very proficient in navigating them.

    The bottom of the trail comes out at a fire road. Bear left and go up to gate. Once through the gate you'll see a singletrack heading down through the meadow. Follow this and it will take you out to Mountain Road 99 where you'll find your shuttle or head left and down back to M&R Adventures.
    *Disclaimer* this review was taken from MTBPROJECT but it is quite accurate. Author unknown...

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  • Roman Beck

    If Downievillle is ranked in the top 10 rides across the USA, then the Cannell Plunge has to be right there too. The "Plunge" is a 1-mile drop in 8 miles of riding. 1 1/4 hours of pure fun.

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