Just Outstanding … The Perfect Warm Up for The Plunge
I had read a little bit about the trail called Just Outstanding on the forums … a nice trail to do while visiting Kernville to do the Cannell (Plunge) Trail … and that is exactly what I did.
I arrived in Kernville late on a Thursday afternoon … so I rode a little bit of the Kern Canyon Trail west from the dam just to work out the kinks … the results of riding in the car (from San Diego) for 5 hours. I had planned to do the well-known Cannell Trail (Plunge) on Saturday morning so that left Friday to ride … the Just Outstanding Trail.
Length: 13.3 miles
When I spoke with the young lady from Mountain and River Adventures about Just Outstanding she said there was really no good way to do a loop … and nobody in their right mind would try to ride up the trail. I bought a map and studied it all Thursday night … trying to figure out a way to make it a loop. While driving to Alta Sierra(where Just Outstanding starts) I had a couple of possible return routes in mind but no clear plan as to where I was going to go once I got to the bottom of Just Outstanding.
When I missed the turn-off to Alta Sierra (actually I turned off before I got to Rancheria … the appropriate road), I decided to get my map out of my Camelbak and check for directions. I stopped the car, got out, opened the back door, and … saw no Camelbak! Where was it? I had set it on the couch at the cabin and must not have put it into the car. Dang! I have forgotten my helmet, water, sunglasses, gloves, and various other items but I had never forgotten my whole backpack!
- Click Garmin for all kinds of data (including GPX Track) for Just Outstanding Trail.
Have you done this ride? What did you think of it? How about sharing your thoughts on our Visitor Stories page?
Finding the trailhead was a little tricky as the girl had told me the Just Outstanding started in the Alta Sierra Resort parking lot. But the trail actually starts about a mile farther down Rancheria Road (south from the parking lot). So after making my 40 minute trip back to Kernville (to get the Camelbak) I finally found the start of the trail … still not sure how to do the ride.
I was seated in the car in front of the trailhead sign. I was looking at the map for the umpteenth time … when I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye. As I glanced up I noticed a cloud of dust in my rear view mirror. A car was pulling up right behind me.
I jumped out of the car hoping the driver behind me was a mountain biker, a mountain biker wanting to do the Just Outstanding Trail. A mountain biker wanting to shuttle the Just Outstanding Trail.
He rolled down his window, and before I could speak the young man (Grant) asked me if I wanted to shuttle a ride down to the lake. I said yes! That was the turning point of the day.
We drove both cars down to the lake. Getting there was not a direct route as we got mixed up on fire roads and ended up back in the Alta Sierra parking lot after 20 minutes of driving. But we followed the pavement and road signs on our second try and made it to the lake pretty quickly.
We loaded Grant’s Santa Cruz onto my rack and left his Honda Element in a parking area on Keystone Road, and headed back up the hill to Alta Sierra. While shuttling the cars I got a chance to learn a few things about Grant. First of all, he lived in Walnut Creek, California … but grew up in a town called La Mesa … a town less than 7 miles from my house, and was a member of the San Diego State Cross Country Mountain Biking Team. He was an engineer for PGE and was on his way home from a project based in Barstow. Met his wife at SDSU and she is a Canadian citizen. Grant had slept in his car the night before.
This time I pulled my Toyota Highlander right into the little pull-out next to the trailhead and parked. I am not sure where other people would park … maybe just along Rancheria Road … a skinny one lane fire road. We quickly got geared up and headed off down the trail.
Grant took off aggressively and I attempted to keep up. At first I had to lay back a little as the black powdery dust coming off Grants wheels just hung in the air. This cloud, along with the mottling of light filtering through the forest canopy made following the trail difficult. I had to remove my sunglasses to even have a chance of navigating all the twists and turns of the Just Outstanding Trail, but then the dust was worse.
Farther down the trail the dark powdery dust turned to sand … harder to ride through but not dusty.
Yes, the Just Outstanding Trail was real twisty, at first winding through pine trees, then through a manzanita tunnel, and finally through sagebrush. The Just Outstanding Trail crossed 3 branches of Woodward Creek and dumped us out onto Potato Flats, just under a mile from the top. When I reached the flats I was surprised to find Grant gnawing on a large burrito. Most people bring some kind of power bar, granola bar, trail mix, or even a piece of fruit … but a huge burrito?
We rode a couple hundred feet south where we found the Wagy Flat Road, which we took down to the Sawmill Road. We turned left onto Sawmill Road in order to catch a small connector trail to Wall Street and finally Dutch Flats Trail.
The Wagy Flats and Sawmill Roads were dirt but mighty smooth … so we hummed down them. Once we’d made the left turn onto the Sawmill Road we began looking for a small trail branching off to the right. The first one we saw went straight up a hill so we opted to look for another, which came up about 100 yards farther south.
The connector we took started out pretty narrow, got a lot narrower, and passed under pine trees with dead, low slung branches ready to poke out an eye or just tear off a whole head. We stayed on the connector which wove all over the place, including up a steep ridge, some of which was not ride-able.
We were shocked when the connector finally hit the Wall Street Trail. There was no trail sign, not until Wall Street crossed the Dutch Flat Trail.
Dutch Flat “Trail”? Dutch Flats was very steep and rugged. Rock gardens straight down the hill … large rocks. In several places the trail builders has chosen to make the trail go straight down the mountain, with no thought of where water would go (we didn’t have to worry about water … for the trail was so dry several places were through foot deep sand). But we did have worry about our pedals hitting the sides of the 2-3 foot deep trail.
After we got our bikes and gear stuffed into the Element we headed back up to get my car. I took that opportunity to invite Grant to come stay in “The Bunkhouse,” the two bedroom cabin I had rented just for me.
Once at the Bunkhouse we showered and headed for the Kern River Brewing Company … the sponsors of the trail we had just biked. I had a beer and a sandwich. Grant had a beer and finished his “trail burrito” for dinner. The day had started out poorly with a wrong turn, a forgotten backpack, the hunt for a trailhead, the tension of not knowing where to ride … and ended in a shuttle ride with Grant, a ride I would have to say was … Just Outstanding!
- During most rides I take many more photos than I can place on a ride page. The following is a slide show for the entire ride … 25 photos in all.
- To stop the slideshow and view the photos full screen just click on a photo.