Cajon Pass to Johnson Valley
SBNF overland route
|Trail in Google Maps|
|creator:||Doug Guimond (FishPOET)|
|Dates:||Multiple trips between 1973 - 2009|
|Trail time:||16 hours on a summer weekday. 24 hours on a summer weekend. May not be passable in the winter due to snow.|
|Vehicle classes:||High Clearance 4wd, Small/Medium Dualsport|
Southwestern United States, California, Southern California, San Bernardino County, San Bernardino National Forest
Old mining trails and fire breaks leading from the Cajon Pass through the San Bernardino National Forest
to the Johnson Valley OHV Area
The trail (2N47) starts at 3000' in the Cajon Pass just off Interstate 215 in Southern California. The trail starts as a graded dirt road. As the trail climbs to the East there are many bypasses off the main road that are steep and deeply rutted. They will challenge your driving skills. All the bypasses connect back to the main road. The trail reaches the top of the Cleghorn Ridge at 5000'. The trail continues east to Silverwood Lake. Once at Silverwood Lake there will be a short 2 mile excursion on pavement to reach the next section of trail. From the Cedar Springs Dam you will be back on a graded dirt (3N33) for a short distance until you reach 2N17X. 2N17X is an old firebreak and runs directly up the ridgeline. It is steep and loose and it will challenge your driving skills. When you reach the top you will be back on 3N33 Pilot Rock Ridge Rd. There are multiple bypasses on 3N33 that are steep and deeply rutted. Continuing East you will reach Rock Camp on Hwy 173. A short jaunt on pavement will bring you to the Willow Creek Trail and Pinnacles Staging Area. Pinnacles Staging Area has pit toilets. From Pinnacles Staging Area you will run another old firebreak (3N34X) It is steep and deeply rutted. Shortly after reconnecting with 3N34 you will cross Willow Creek. Willow Creek can be as high as your headlights in the Spring or less than one foot deep near the end of the Summer. You will continue East through Maloney Canyon, Stove Flats and Rouse Meadow. After a short southerly jaunt you will reach Hook Creek Rd. Continuing East you will come to a concrete bridge over Deep Creek. This bridge is numbered T-6. Deep Creek supports the greatest diversity of wildlife habitats of any drainage on the San Bernardino National Forest and has earned the State designation of a Wild Trout Stream. If you have a day to hike Deep Creek you will be amazed at the scenery and fabulous pools located both up and down stream from T-6. IMHO Deep Creek is the ...was the best kept secret in Southern California. After you cross T-6 you will be continuing on 3N34 on a black diamond section of trail known as Dishpan Springs. The trail is deeply rutted and full of small to medium rocks. There are two dry waterfalls to climb. The first is the smaller of the two and usually is not much trouble. The second waterfall is nearly vertical and 8' tall. Front and rear lockers are highly recommended. There is a fun bypass to the left around the second waterfall if you so choose. Continuing East the black diamond trail ends at Tent Peg Group Campground and you will be on a fire road for a few of miles. Just Past Crab Flats Campground you will turn onto 3N16. Continue East on 3N16 until you reach Holcomb Creek. Holcomb Creek is another very special area in the San Bernardino National Forest. Not only is 3N93 rated a black diamond trail that will test you and your vehicles abilities, but the scenery on the eastern half of the trail is spectacular. There are multiple rock gardens with lines from moderate to extreme if you so choose. Rock size varies from small to larger. You will climb from 5400' to over 6500' along the 6-1/2 mile trail. Leaving 3N93 you will make a short jog on 3N14 to 3N08. Continuing on 3N08 to 3N16 and the historic Holcomb Valley at 7400'. We will turn off 3N16 and head for John Bull Flat. 3N10 John Bull is the last black diamond trail on our journey. John Bull will test you and your vehicles abilities. There are multiple rock gardens with lines from moderate to extreme if you so choose. Rock size varies from small to larger. We will cross 8200' our highest point along our journey. Leaving John Bull Flat you will make your way back down to the Western end of Holcomb Valley and head for Jacoby Canyon. Jacoby Canyon will start our descent out of the high country. There are some fantastic rock formations just off the trail along Jacoby Canyon. At the bottom of Jacoby Canyon we take a short pavement section to 3N03. Once on 3N03 you will pass cactus Flats Staging Area. Pit toilets are available. Continuing southeast on 3N03 through Lone Valley you will pass the Bighorn Sheep Wilderness Area on your left. Tip Top Mountain will be on your left at 2N90. Tip Top Mountain has mining artifacts and on top an old antenna tower. Just beyond Tip Top Mountain will be the Rose Mine area. Lots to explore in this area. Beyond the Rose Mine is Mineral Mountain on your left and Heartbreak Ridge on your right. North on Viscera Springs Rd headed for Rattlesnake Canyon. Rattlesnake Canyon is a motorized corridor through the Bighorn Wilderness. Please stay within 60' of the centerline of the road. There is still open grazing in Rattlesnake Canyon so be aware of cattle. They have the right of way. Leaving Rattlesnake Canyon we will be at 3800' in the high desert area of Johnson Valley. Our journey ends at Hwy 62 "Old Woman Springs Rd". The Johnson Valley OHV area is across highway 62.
Terrain type / brush factor
You will be traveling from 3000' to over 8200'. Graded dirt road; not-maintained ranching/mining trails; sandy/boulder wash bottom; steep & loose climbs; 9+ feet wide trail
Low brush factor
Permits? Fees? Seasonal closures?
Must have a street legal vehicle. Adventure Pass required http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/ap/welcome.shtml for dispersed camping and/or recreating in high impact areas. Much of the trail is not maintained, so based on snow/rain/flooding, trail conditions could change.
There are multiple spur roads along the route that will lead to dispersed camping areas. Always check the fire conditions before you leave as dispersed camping is not allowed in high fire danger situations and campfires are never allowed while dispersed camping in the San Bernardino National Forest. General Rules for dispersed camping in the San Bernardino National Forest: No wood or charcoal fires. Chemical and propane stoves allowed with California Campfire Permit except in extreme fire danger situations. Camp at least 200 feet from springs, water, meadows, trails and roads. Camp at least a quarter-mile from designated campgrounds, picnic areas, trailheads. Camp at least a quarter-mile from private property and state highways. Pack out all trash. Leave no trace. Yellow Post Sites are available on a first come basis at no charge. An Adventure Pass is required. Yellow Post sites offer no water and no bathrooms. Campfires allowed when fire restrictions permit. Campfire permits are required. Maximum occupancy is 8 people and/or 2 cars. 14 day stay max.
Deep Creek Special Rules: Closed to the public from sundown to sunrise. No Camping is permitted within 1 mile of Deep Creek. No fires, campfires or stoves allowed in the Deep Creek Drainage. No glass containers permitted within 1 mile of Deep Creek Public nudity is not permitted within 1/4 mile of T-6 crossing.
Deep Creek Wild Trout Area Fishing Regulations: Limit two fish. Must be eight inches or larger. Artificial Lures or Flies with barbless hooks only.
Doug Guimond/Tracy Egan - 96 Grand Cherokee/99 Ford F-250
Greg Hoffman, OHV Land Manager, SBNF - TJ
Jeff McRae, SBNFA Trails Manager - YJ
Multiple members of the SBNFA in various vehicles.
History, geology, etc.
Silverwood Lake is part of the California State Water Project. It was formed by building the 249' Cedar Springs Dam across the Mojave River. At 3,350 feet, it is the highest reservoir in the State Water Project.
About the same time the logging industry was taking off on the west end of the San Bernardino Mountains; a "gold rush" was started on the east end, near Big Bear Lake. Bill Holcomb Credit for this "gold rush" is given to a man named Bill Holcomb. It was in the spring of 1860; Holcomb had been prospecting for gold in the Big Bear Valley. After a long winter he hiked up Van Dusen Canyon while hunting for bear. Upon crossing over the ridge he discovered "gold" in a lush green valley that would eventually bear his name. Within two months, work of Holcomb's discovery got out, and miners from all over invaded "Holcomb's" valley. By September, a small settlement called "Belleville" with over 1,000 men literally popped into existence. At the same time in other parts of Holcomb Valley, "Clapboard Town" & "Union Town" went up almost over night. The population grew so fast that the Holcomb Valley residents soon outnumbered the rest of San Bernardino County.Lucky Baldwin In fact, during the 1860 elections, to determine the new county seat would be located, the city of San Bernardino barely won the honor; beating out "Belleville" by only two votes. But, within the first year, excitement began to subside with the realization that placer mining was not producing gold in profitable amounts. By the end of the 2nd year, most miners had given up and gone elsewhere. Fifteen years later, San Francisco multimillionaire, Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin started another "gold rush" when he constructed a large 40 stamp mill at the base of "Gold Mountain" in 1874. By the time his stamp mill roared to life in March of 1875, a new mining town called Bairdstown, with 2 saloons, a butcher shop, and 2 boarding houses had sprung into existence at the northeast end of Baldwin Lake. However, the amount of gold recovered from Gold Mountain fell way below expectations, and a disappointed "Lucky" Baldwin shut the mill down after only seven months of operation. Bairdstown quickly became a ghost town. The stamp mill sat idle until August of 1876, when it mysteriously caught fire and burned to the ground. The Rose Mine In 1899, Baldwin struck a deal with a man named "Captain" J.R. DeLaMar to build a new 40 stamp on the hill above the original Baldwin mill. DeLaMar wanted to use a new cyanide process that would dramatically increase the amount of gold recovered from the low grade ore. By September of 1900, the new stamp mill was running at full capacity, and recovering over $4,000 a week in modest profit. In 1903, DeLaMar shut down the mill. The real "pay dirt" in the San Bernardino mountains was found in a place called Round Valley, just east of Big Bear Valley. Originally filed as the "Homestake Mine" in 1887, it eventually became known as the "Rose Mine". Betwen 1898 and 1906, its operators consistently recovered as much as 100 times more gold per ton of ore mined than Lucky Baldwin's much publicized "Gold Mountain".
There are not any services along the trail. Food, gas & lodging are available in the towns of Lake Arrowhead, Running Springs & Big Bear Lake which are short treks off the trail.
**As of Summer 2009: Currently 3N93 is in a temporary fire closure. We are hoping that it reopens this summer. I can provide an easy detour if necessary.
GPS units/laptops used for tracking/navigation: Garmin Nuvi 500; Garmin GPSMap60CS; Garmin V; Lowrance Baja 540; DeLorme PN-20; Fujitsu Notebook running Windows XP; SPOT, APRS
Navigation software used for planning/navigation: National Geographic TOPO!; Garmin MapSource Topo; Google Earth
Books/maps used for planning: Images of Big Bear by Stanley E. Bellamy and Russell L. Keller; Arrowhead! My Mountain My People by Stan Bellamy; Guide to Southern California Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails by Charles A. Wells; Southern California Backcountry Adventures by Peter Massey and Jeanne Wilson.
Important waypoints as coordinates
Lat/Lon format is hddd° mm.mmm and WGS84 datum
SBNF01 I-215/Cleghorn 2N47 Trailhead N34° 17.952 W117° 27.428
SBNF02 2N47/3N22 stay right on 2N47 at N34° 18.748 W117° 26.263
SBNF03 2N47/Hwy turn left on Hwy 138 at N34° 18.027 W117° 20.211
SBNF04 Hwy 138/Hwy 173 turn right on Hwy 173 at N34° 18.742 W117° 20.775
SBNF05 Hwy 173/Cedar Springs Dam Rd turn right on CSDR at N34° 18.491 W117° 18.618
SBNF06 CSDR/3N33 turn left on 3N33 at N34° 18.309 W117° 18.582
SBNF07 3N33/2N17X stay left on 2N17X at N34° 18.141 W117° 18.204
SBNF08 2N17X/2N33 turn left on 2N33 at N34° 16.953 W117° 16.282
SBNF09 2N33/Hwy 173 turn left on Hwy 173 at N34° 17.243 W117° 18.843
SBNF10 Hwy 173/Willow Creek Trail (3N34) turn right on 3N34 at N34° 18.008 W117° 12.308
PINCLE Pinnacles Staging Area N34° 17.091 W117° 12.096
SBNF11 3N34/3N34X stay left on 3N34X at N34° 17.893 W117° 11.962
SBNF12 3N34/3N34X turn left on 3N34 at N34° 18.039 W117° 11.029
SBNF13 3N34/2N75 turn left on 3N34 at N34° 17.608 W117° 09.474
SBNF14 3N34/3N38 stay on 3N34 at N34° 17.652 W117° 09.397
SBNF15 3N34/2N29Y turn left on 3N34 at N34° 17.610 W117° 09.068
SBNF16 3N34/3N38 stay on 3N34 at N34° 17.650 W117° 08.821
SBNF17 3N34/3N34D stay right on 3N34 at N34° 17.586 W117° 08.723
SBNF18 3N34/2N25 stay on 3N34 at N34° 16.726 W117° 08.315
SBNF19 3N34/3N34C stay on 3N34 at N34° 16.281 W117° 08.187
SBNF20 3N34/2N86Y(Hook Creek Rd) turn hard left on 3N34 at N34° 16.198 W117° 08.248
T-6 N34° 16.103 W117° 07.745
TENTPG stay on 3N34 at N34° 15.716 W117° 06.024
SBNF21 3N34/2N31Y stay on 3N34 at N34° 15.819 W117° 05.677
SBNF22 3N34/2N31Y stay on 3N34 at N34° 15.873 W117° 05.415
CRAB N34° 15.797 W117° 05.217
SBNF23 3N34/3N16 turn left 3N16 at N34° 15.654 W117° 05.076
SBNF24 3N16/3N93 stay right on 3N93 at N34° 16.509 W117° 03.044
SBNF25 3N93/2N06X stay on 3N93 at N34° 16.877 W117° 00.283
SBNF26 3N93/3N14 turn left on 3N14 at N34° 18.025 W116° 58.929
SBNF27 After crossing Holcomb Creek on 3N14 turn right onto 3N08 at N34° 18.041 W116° 58.985
YP34 Yellow Post 34 can be found on a short spur off 3N08 at N34° 18.663 W116° 57.595
SBNF28 3N08/3N89 stay right on 3N08 at N34° 18.740 W116° 58.377
SBNF29 3N08/3N16 turn right on 3N16 at N34° 18.760 W116° 55.877
SBNF30 3N16/3N83 stay on 3N16 at N34° 18.716 W116° 55.776
SBNF31 3N16/3N12 stay on 3N16 at N34° 18.580 W116° 55.640
SBNF32 3N16/3N82 stay on 3n16 at N34° 18.455 W116° 55.268
SBNF33 3N16/3N10 stay left on 3N10 at N34° 18.375 W116° 54.814
SBNF34 Continue North on 3N10 at N34° 18.790 W116° 54.543
SBNF35 3N10/3N43 stay on 3N10 at N34° 19.111 W116° 54.284
SBNF36 3N10/3N32 stay on 3N10 at N34° 19.089 W116° 52.540
SBNF37 3N10/3N02 turn right on 3N02 at N34° 19.211 W116° 51.356
SBNF38 3N02/3N16 stay left on 3N16 at N34° 18.303 W116° 50.846
SBNF39 3N16/3N69 stay on 3N16 at N34° 17.948 W116° 50.231
SBNF40 3N16/3N61 turn left on 3N61 at N34° 18.279 W116° 49.776
SBNF41 3N61/Hwy 18 turn right on Hwy 18 at N34° 19.037 W116° 48.912
SBNF42 Hwy 18/3N03 turn left on 3N03 at N34° 18.895 W116° 48.625
SBNF43 3N03/3N03A stay on 3N03 at N34° 18.306 W116° 48.029
CACTUS Cactus Flats Staging Area N34° 18.148 W116° 47.813
SBNF44 3N03/2N02 continue southeast on 2N02 at N34° 15.365 W116° 43.014
SBNF45 2N02/2N90 stay on 2N02 at N34° 15.299 W116° 42.653
SBNF46 2N02/2N01 stay left on 2N02 at N34° 14.972 W116° 42.304
SBNF47 2N02/2N71Y stay on 2N02 at N34° 14.089 W116° 41.229
SBNF48 2N02/2N71Y stay on 2N02 at N34° 13.758 W116° 40.601
SBNF49 2N02/2N61Y stay on 2N02 at N34° 13.647 W116° 40.333
SBNF50 2N02/2N76Y stay on 2N02 at N34° 13.780 W116° 39.783
SBNF51 2N02/2N76Y stay on 2N02 at N34° 14.075 W116° 38.846
SBNF52 3 way intersection of 2N02/Viscera Springs Rd/Burns Canyon
Continue North on Viscera Springs Rd at N34° 14.022 W116° 38.667
There are multiple trails and roads in this area. Stay on Viscera Springs Rd.
SBNF53 Rattlesnake Canyon starts at N34° 15.836 W116° 39.548
SBNF54 Wilderness Boundry/SBNF Boundry N34° 19.747 W116° 41.282
SBNF55 Rattlesnake Canyon ends at N34° 20.286 W116° 42.436
SBNF56 Turn right on road at N34° 20.649 W116° 41.918
SBNF57 Trail ends at Hwy 62 at N34° 22.204 W116° 39.047