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Kern Cow Flat-Mill Creek loop?
So I'm searching the internets for the 'Cow Flat Road' in Kern Canyon, and I come across a PDF that says the Keyesville Classic gang did this ride in 2004: Cow Flat Road -> Breckenridge Road -> Mill Creek Trail. Has anyone done this? If so, what's the approx mileage, and what were your general impressions of the route?


Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 01/13/07

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  • Re: Kern Cow Flat-Mill Creek loop?
    Hey Dr...we did this ride a couple of year's ago, lovingly referring to it as the "death ride". Cow Flat is a 15 mile dirt fire road from Hwy 178 to Breckenridge road. It starts out with a 30-40 minute middle ring climb, then drops into a section which crosses a creek. After this creek it climbs up to Breckenridge Rd. At Breckenridge (paved) you turn left and head towards Breckenridge MTN. The first 4-5 miles of this are cool and then it gets STEEP. The last 2 miles or so to Squirrel Meadow are granny gear. The elevation here is about 6500-7000 ft so you get an elevation hit as well. The Mill Creek trail starts from Squirrel Meadow and heads downhill for about 7 miles. It ranges from fast, swoopy turns at the top to tight, rutted, rocky, rooty switchbacks and creek crossings at the bottom. Total mileage is about 35 miles. I have a topo map from last time I did it. I GPS'd it, so I can get an elevation profile to you if you want it. All in all, it's a VERY hard ride. You basically do fire road and paved road for about 28 miles followed by the s/t. We did it as a giant loop, starting at the trailhead on Old Kern Canyon Rd and rode to meet friends at the start of Cow Flat about 2.5-3 miles or so from the Mill Creek trailhead.
    Another shorter route you can do is to start at Cow Flat and head up to about 11 miles. There's a trail that heads down for 3 miles, all s/t, called Dougherty Creek. It ends up across the road from Richbar Campground...this is a GREAT trail, absolutely perfect, immacualte s/t with one little rock garden I've never seen anyone clean. It curves around to a flume and then finishes on a paved road of about 1/2 mile that is VERY steep, be careful of the decomp'd granite that gets on the road, it makes for a religious experience when you start to slide around on it...shoot me an email if you need more info, ciao!
    Posted by ScarryFast a 40 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a 2001 Stumpy Pro/2003 Titus Switchblade from Bakersfield on 01/15/07

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    • Re: Kern Cow Flat-Mill Creek loop?
      Thanks much for the info. I found out much of this on my own (especially the 'death ride' aspect!) yesterday. I'll post a better ride report later, but for now, here's a shot of one of the more interesting sections of the Cow Flat Road:



      Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 01/15/07

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      • Re: Kern Cow Flat-Mill Creek loop?
        I was out on Breckenridge road yesterday at about 1200. I rode from the mouth of the canyon, almost due south to Breckenridge on a dirt road as a "training ride". Did you do the whole route all the way to Squirrel Meadow, then down Mill Creek? I imagine it was wet and mucky at the Meadow since it has snowed recently, the lower part was probably very nice, in spots...is the downed Sycamore still there close to the end of the trail? If you're ever local, let me know when/where you plan on riding and I'll try to give you info as needed, or even better, sit in and ride myself...
        Posted by ScarryFast a 40 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a 2001 Stumpy Pro/2003 Titus Switchblade from Bakersfield on 01/15/07

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        • Re: Mill Creek Q for ScarryFast
          I'm seeking options for this loop. Have you done Remington Ridge? How would that be for climbing? Also, the map seems to show a trail starting in or near Cow Flat that goes up toward the top of Breckenridge. Know anything about this?

          And...how about the other side of the river? It looks like I can cross at China Garden and take trails or roads up/down the river, and some trails or roads up the mountainside toward Rancheria Road.

          Hopefully I can get up there soon. If I've got a plan, I'll post a note. Maybe I can 'hire your services' as guide...say, buy you a McNally's Burger? :)


          Posted by Dr Wellington Yueh on 01/24/07

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          • Re: Mill Creek Q for ScarryFast
            Hey there Dr. W...I wouldn't recommend riding UP Remington Ridge as it's really steep that way. The trail you mentioned heading towards Breckenridge from Cow Flat is another REALLY steep trail as well. It starts about 4-4.5 miles up Cow Flat. We've attempted to "find" it and took a wrong left hand trail that disappeared after about 2 miles. When we decided to head back down we could see the trail on another ridge just west of us. We've never returned to try to finish it off. But, that trail would cut off some 15-20 miles of dirt road climbing...did I mention earlier that when we did turn around the dh was wicked? Steep, rocks, TIGHT s/t...it was worth the effort, too bad it doesn't go all the way up.
            As far as the north side of the river goes, you can head down river on the Wildflower Trail where th Kern Canyon Trail starts. This trail is WAY cool for about 3.5 miles and then heads UP for about a mile and a half. The problem is you gain almost 2000 ft in that mile and a half. You come to a fence and can either go 5 miles toward the Oak Flay lookout and Rancheria Rd or head back on the Badger Gap trail to the Kern Canyon Trail and back to Delonegha Bridge. This is a very cool loop, about 20 miles, all S/T with a 4-5 mile fast s/t dh to finish.
            I've never crossed the river at China Gardens, there isn't any way to cross it without getting wet, that I know of...I know this is a scattered description, but let me know what you're planning and I can whip up GPS maps and PDF's for you that will help. All in all it's a fantastic place to ride...but, shhhhh, don't tell anybody!
            Posted by ScarryFast a 41 year old Die-hard Enthusiast riding a 2001 Stumpy Pro/2003 Titus Switchblade from Bakersfield on 01/26/07

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