Cannell Trail – Kernville, CA

Need a guide for the Cannell Trail? Check out XEN MTB Southern California Guided Mountain Biking Tours.

Start your mileage counter at the Cannell Trail 33E32 sign which is just a few hundred feet down Route 22S05 (the road you came up on).

You first pass through Durrwood Meadows a single track section with some neat whoop de doos.

At about the 1.25 mile mark you’ll reach route 22S19. Go straight across this dirt fire road to pickup the single track that runs parallel to the fire road.

At about the 2.05 mile mark, you’ll pass by Round Meadow on your right.

At about the 3.58 mile mark, you’ll pass by Mosquito Meadow on your right, which is aptly named. While beautiful, you don’t want to stick around here very long!

About a half mile from Mosquito Meadow, there is a spring noted on the USGS topographical maps at 35 56.687 N / 118 21.195 W (on your right). NOTE: Be sure to treat any water you find along this ride with Iodine and/or a water filter as there are many cows polluting the water!

Another spring may be found 0.65 miles later at 35 56.266 N / 118 21.079 W (on your left).

Another spring may be found 0.4 miles later at 35 55.996 N / 118 20.98 W (on your right).

At about 5.45 miles, the area to your right up the hill is called Deadwood Meadow.

At 5.7 miles, you may notice an unmarked trail heading to the right. Don’t go there! This trail leads route 22S12 (down 1.89 miles / 1,000 feet). From there an additional 2 miles / and 500 of climbing gets you back to the Cannell Trail 33E32.

Assuming you didn’t turn right at the 5.7 mile marker, then at about 7.4 miles, there’s another spring on your right. 35 54.365 N / 118 20.3 W

At about 8.3 miles, the Cannell Trail runs parallel to the 22S12 fire road. This is a good place to take a rest and enjoy the scenery. This area is called Big Meadow (for obvious reasons – it’s huge!). Sometimes you’ll see cattle grazing out there. After your rest, for an easy climb to the saddle, take the fire road south. Both routes lead to the same place. If you decide to take the single track, pay attention to the silver diamonds and/or notches in the tree. You’re aiming for 35 52.397 N / 118 21.087 W. If you miss the turn, you’ll eventually end up at the Salmon Creek trail. Turn right there to get yourself back on track.

Assuming you took the 22S12 fire road option, at about the 10.13 mile marker, you reach route 24S12. Turn right. Follow the fire 24S12 about 1.93 miles. The Cannell trail begins again on your right, heading south and then west to the Cannell Meadow.

At about the 14 mile mark, the Cannell trail intersects fire road 24S56. Keep going straight. NOTE: at this point, there’s spring across the 24S56 fire road from the Forestry station at 30 50.303 N / 118 22.08 W.

For the next 2.25 miles, the single track leads around the Cannell Meadow – parallel to fire road 24S12 – another great spot to rest and take in the scenery.

Another spring can be found on your left at about the 16.15 mile mark: 35 48.782 N / 118 21.61 W.

At mile marker 17.8, the Cannell trail intersects with fire road 24S12 (which leads to Pine Flats). Keep going straight. This also marks the beginning of the most fun of the day: the 7.58 mile Cannell Plunge. Within a mile, you’ll be able to see a Lake Isabella.

Although the majority of this single track is downhill, there is one hike-a-bike section (about a 5 minute walk) marked by a silver pyramid-shaped memorial. Make sure to turn right there!

At mile marker 21.32, you may notice an unmarked trail heading off to your left. This 4.5 mile (2600 feet of elevation loss) trail heads past Tunnel Spring and some treacherous terrain to the Caldwell Creek Trail (turn right), which eventually heads back to town. But this is strictly a hiking trail. DON’T TURN LEFT!

Assuming you stayed on the Cannell trail, the end of your ride is now 4 miles away.

NOTE: If you left your car at Mountain Rivers and Adventures, take the road 1.77 miles (left) back to Kernville Road (turn right).

Trail Notes

Cannell Trail GPX Data

Cannell Trail on Every Trail

Photos from Previous Cannell Plunge Trips:

Panoramic Photos of the Area

Round Meadow near 22S19
Mosquito Meadow near 22S19
Big Meadow near 22S12
Cannell Meadow

Video of the Cannell Trail

(Video Courtesy of Ken Knutson)

Elevation Profiles:

The entire route (Approx. +2,000 / -8,522′ over 27 miles):

First Major Climb – Near the Beginning of the Ride (Approx. +980′ over 4.25 miles):

Second Major Climb – Starts at Big Meadow (Approx. +997′ in 4.05 miles):

The Cannell Plunge (Approx. -4,989′ over 7.25 miles):

Kernville Area Camping, Food, Etc.

View Kernville Area in a larger map

How to Get to the Top:

This ride requires a shuttle to the drop off point. The drive from town to the drop off point is approximately 42 miles and takes at least an hour and a half. Click here for complete directions from town to the drop off point.

Shuttle Service

Mountain and Rivers Adventures provides shuttle service to the top. Click here fore more information and to make a reservation.

Kernville Mountain Biking Guide

If you’ve never been to the Cannell Trail before, you really should go with an experienced trail guide like XEN MTB Southern California Guided Mountain Biking Tours.

Food / Water / Rest:

There are a few springs along the route. ALL water must be filtered! You’ll need at least 1 liter of water per hour of riding. The ride usually takes 6-8 hours to complete. So, chances are you won’t be carrying that much water on your back. Therefore it’s a good idea for someone in your group to carry a water filtration device. DO NOT eat snow!

It is highly recommended that you prepare for at least two days prior to this ride by sleeping at least eight hours per night, eating more than you normally would and hydrating yourself in the day before and the morning of the ride. You should stop at least once per hour for 15 minutes to eat and rest. It’s also recommended that you do your driving to the area the day before your ride.

Known Water Springs Along the Cannell Trail:

Disclaimer: These GPS points were copied from TOPO maps and have not been verified. These springs may not be active anymore. If you find water at these springs, always filter the water before drinking.

Spring 1 @ 35.944783,-118.35325
Spring 2 @ 35.937767,-118.351317
Spring 3 @ 35.932767,-118.349667
Spring 4 @ 35.906083,-118.338333
Spring 5 @ 35.813033,-118.360167

Forest Service Maps

The Cannell Trail is located in the Southern Sequoia National Forest area of California, just north of Lake Isabella. Forest Service maps are a valuable item to have with you on the trail since all rescue workers know the area by markers on these maps. You can download the forest service maps from the website below.

You can also download and print this 11×17 forest service map which shows only the area you’ll be riding in on the Cannell Trail.

Download the Map to Your Phone with EveryTrail

Cannell Plunge on

View the Route with Google Earth

Cannell Trail KMZ Data

And remember: HYDRATE!