From Pine Flat, Cannel Point is a fairly easy hike that usually takes about 2 hours round trip. This peak does have two major handicaps. First, it is the longest drive from LA of any HPS peak - about 5 hours. Second, the road into Pine Flat (24S12) is closed during the winter and into late spring, depending on conditions. For those who need to climb this peak before the road opens, or anyone who wants a good but strenuous pathfinder route to Cannel Point, it can be done from the Quarter Circle 5 Ranch just north of the town of Weldon.
After Memorial weekend Walia Ringeler needed only two peaks to complete the HPS List including Cannel Point. She called the Kernville Ranger Station (619 376-3781) and was told that the road into Pine Flat was still closed and wasn't expected to be open until at least mid-June. Walia's problem was that she was leaving for Germany on June 27 and will be gone for many months. Our only choice then was to try the southern route.
From Glendora, it took us about 4 hours to get to the ranch - including a stop in Gorman for dinner. Fay Ranch Road is paved all the way, but it is easy to drive past in Weldon. There is a standard street sign on a post on the corner, but you can't read it if you go by too fast.
We drove across Fay Creek past the large shed and up to the uppermost house. As we stopped the owner came out of his house towards us. He told us that they don't at all mind hikers up there. They are welcome to park and camp on the few places along the road about 200 yards before the creek. He told us the trailhead is clearly marked and is located just east of where the creek flows across the road. He also said that Frank Ashley has been dead for about 10 years. I asked him for the phone number that we could call to get permission to come up here, but he replied that a call wasn't necessary. I erred in not getting his name.
The hike turned out to be a little more difficult and took longer than we expected. Naturally, now that I know the way, it will be easier the next time I try it. You do need skills at cross country navigation, because the last third of this hike is fairly difficult and there is no trail - despite what the topo shows. You must have the Cannel Peak topo, a compass and altimeter. I also carried with me a Magellan Trailblazer GPS navigator. The Cannel Peak topo has the UTM grid already drawn. The Weldon Quadrangle topo is helpful but not essential.
About a mile north of the ranch is a prominent peak (4862'). You will need to get to the saddle on the north side of this peak where you will pick up a prominent cattle trail. This saddle is shown on the bottom of the Cannel Point topo. There are two ways to get to this saddle. The first is to take the trail on the east side of Fay Creek NE. After you pass through a closed gate, angle back towards the creek. Look for a prominent trail on the west side of the creek that runs along a barbwire fence. Once you see it, find a convenient place to cross the creek and hike up to the trail. (You will need to climb through the barbwire fence.) Once on this trail simply follow it around the hill and up to the saddle.
The second way is to cross the creek on the road (run through it or take off your boots off and wade through it) and hike up just past the large shed. You will see three fences coming together at a gate. Go through the gate (close it behind you) and hike up the dirt road that curves to the right. After a quarter mile or so you will come to another gate. That one is chained, but there are cross boards nailed to the fence post to allow you to climb over. As you continue, this road becomes a trail. Simply follow it north and around to the saddle. (There is a short flat area early on where the trail is faint.) If you take this route, be sure to inform the fellow in the house of your intentions.
The saddle is about 4500' or so. Just hike up the cattle trail between the two fences. It is steep and loose in places. At about 5750' you will pass through another gate at a shoulder. Once you get up to 6600' the trail runs fairly level. Where the trail turns north towards Cannel Meadow you want to leave the trail, cross the little creek and head west up the canyon. If you have a GPS navigator, take a fix and set a waypoint where you leave the trail. Once you are back here, finding your way back is easy.
From there your first goal will be between two bumps to the west at 7200'. There will be trees and brush in your way so some backtracking will be necessary. From there it is easier to find the saddle between the two bumps at 7700. Turn right and go around the bump to the north on its east side. (We found the west side was shorter but more difficult.) When you get to the shallow saddle, Cannel Point is right in front of you just behind the prominent sharp rocks.
Hike up the steep shoulder to where large boulders bar your way. Contour around to the right to another small saddle west of the sharp rocks. Go on the left side here and look for a narrow slit between two giant boulders on your right. Once through this slit you will find the ducked trail that leads up to the peak. You've made it and it should have taken you about 6 hours.
You should be able to get back to the trailhead in just under 4 hours. Once you are back between the two bumps at 72001, be careful heading for where you left the trail. Don't go down the steep canyon that carries the small creek south. Once back on the trail, you've got it made.
Please feel free to call me if you need more details.