Hike to Goat Canyon Trestle Nov. 20th

BorregoWrangler

Rendezvous Conspiracy
Hidden away in a remote and rugged part of the southern end of the Anza-Borrego Desert is an engineering feat that hasn't been viewed by a large number of people. The Goat Canyon trestle was built in 1932 after an earthquake collapsed one of the tunnels of the Carrizo Gorge section of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. At 200 feet tall and 750 feet long, it remains to this day the longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the United States. Dubbed "The Impossible Railroad" by many engineers of its day due to the immense logistical challenges and ruggedness of the terrain involved, this 11-mile section through Carrizo Gorge was built from 1907 to 1919.

Despite damage to the lines from heavy rainstorms, landslides, fires, and vandalism the line stayed in operation for over 50 years. In 1976 hurricane Kathleen caused widespread flooding and damage in this area. Three trestles belonging to the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway were destroyed, and five others were damaged. At more than 50 other locations, tracks were buried by mudslides or had the ground under them washed away. After assessing the damage from Kathleen, the Southern Pacific Transportation Company decided in 1977 to abandon most of the SD&AE railway, but in 1978 the Interstate Commerce Commission disallowed this plan and the railway was restored.

Parking at the Mortero Palms trail head, we headed up through the palms and around the boulders an up the mountain. After the trail leveled off for a bit we soon found ourselves dropping down into Goat Canyon. The hike out to the trestle is always quite an adventure. We were at the edge of the storm that was raging back in town. Although we didn't really get rained on, it was very windy with 40mph gust and a light drizzle along the way. Our biggest concerns were slippery rocks that had to be traversed on the way down into Goat Canyon. The views of the beautiful desert scenery, the trestle and surrounding area make this trip well worth the effort.

Coming into the Mortero Palms.


Looks like this would provide some shade on a sunny day.


Up the waterfall.


Break time.


Looking back down at the desert floor.


Still climbing.


Rainbow awaiting us.


Starting down into Goat Canyon.


Watch those slippery rocks!


Hope there's some gold waiting for us down there!


First glimpse!


Coming down this wasn't easy.


Steve gets bold and makes his way over to the old collapsed tunnel.








Doesn't look like there's any activity here with all the rock and mud slides covering the tracks.


All this was here back in April.


That had to hurt.


Looking down into Carrizo Gorge. I'd like to hike through here one day as well.




Someone had a bad day.


Big palm grove down there.




We started the hike a 8:00 and finished up around 2:30pm so we made a little better time than I had thought we would. Despite the windy conditions it was great not having the sun beat down on us along the way. Hopefully one day I'll be able to get the wife out here. Looking forward to my next outing. Until then, my sore legs are resting up.
 
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Lostmanifesto

Traveler
Very cool report and great pix. Can you post how to get there? I am heading to Ocotillo Wells on Friday and maybe have some time Sunday to head on over and check this area out.

Thanks!
 

awalter

Expedition Portal Team, Overland Certified OC0003
Trespassing on the right of way, or have things changed?
 

surfponto

Observer
Great pictures and trip report.:)

We have hiked out to the trestle a few different ways and that is our favorite.
The last one we hiked up from the north end of Carrizo Gorge and ended up bushwacking up the side of the mountain to get to the trestle.

We thought we could get to the mouth of Goat Canyon from Carrizo Gorge but that ended up being a huge vertical dry waterfall.

Interesting to see the split beam on one of the tunnels. I am guessing that was from the Mexicali shake a while back?
Bob
 

BorregoWrangler

Rendezvous Conspiracy
Very cool report and great pix. Can you post how to get there? I am heading to Ocotillo Wells on Friday and maybe have some time Sunday to head on over and check this area out.

Thanks!
To get to the Mortero Palms trailhead head out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park along interstate 8 and exit at Imperial Highway (S2) at Ocotillo. Take the S2 heading north untill you see a small brown sign on the left that says Mortero Wash. This will be just past the Border Patrol checkpopint out there. The trail here will take you towards Dos Cabezas. Cross the tracks and pass the old water tower continuing north. You'll soon come to a trail that veers right with a sign for Mortero Palms.

Trespassing on the right of way, or have things changed?
Ok first, I don't need any deputy dawgs crapping in my trip report about us exploring a bit of the area. If anyone needs it, here's proof no one trespassed. :elkgrin:

(Thanks to SAR_Squid79)

Great pictures and trip report.:)

We have hiked out to the trestle a few different ways and that is our favorite.
The last one we hiked up from the north end of Carrizo Gorge and ended up bushwacking up the side of the mountain to get to the trestle.

We thought we could get to the mouth of Goat Canyon from Carrizo Gorge but that ended up being a huge vertical dry waterfall.

Interesting to see the split beam on one of the tunnels. I am guessing that was from the Mexicali shake a while back?
Bob
Thanks! I've read your trip reports on your blog. Good stuff!

Yeah, that busted beam wasn't there back in April so I'm guessing it was from the quakes.
 

surfponto

Observer
Thanks! I've read your trip reports on your blog. Good stuff!
Yeah, that busted beam wasn't there back in April so I'm guessing it was from the quakes.
Last Spring there was a small tractor and evidence that they were trying to clear debris off the track.

From your pics it looks like that didn't go to well.

Here is a before and after with your tunnel pic :) Check out that car size boulder that fell on the track in your pic.:Wow1:

 

carlpb

New member
So it looks like they stopped train travel again. I hiked it twice the past and spent the night there once before they resummed travel on it. Tics were the worst in this area, I was pulling them off all day. I even rode the mountain bike down a handful of times about 10 years ago from Jacumba to Ocotillo. On no tresspassing.
 

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ben2go

Adventurer
Thanks for the SW history lesson.You guys have some of the best and most remote areas to explore out there.Looks like fun times were had by all.I'll be adding that stop to my list of places to visit in the future.
 

TurboChris

Adventurer
GREAT pics and writeup...


Can I get a bit more detail? Or is that it....is it obvious from the right towards Mortero Palms? I only ask as I am really interested in checking this out...but it's a 3 hour drive just to get there...don't wanna be wandering around looking lost hahaha



To get to the Mortero Palms trailhead head out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park along interstate 8 and exit at Imperial Highway (S2) at Ocotillo. Take the S2 heading north untill you see a small brown sign on the left that says Mortero Wash. This will be just past the Border Patrol checkpopint out there. The trail here will take you towards Dos Cabezas. Cross the tracks and pass the old water tower continuing north. You'll soon come to a trail that veers right with a sign for Mortero Palms.
 

dsefcik

New member
Looking down into Carrizo Gorge. I'd like to hike through here one day as well.
Great trip report and excellent pictures as usual! A friend and I hiked part of the gorge trying to get to the trestle last May, here is a pic of the gps tracks, yellow was the actual track and the green was what I had planned out. We got thrown off by the dry fall Surfponto mentioned here and went up the wrong canyon. A full report of how we tried to go down the gorge and up to the trestle sin trespassing is on my website:

http://www.sefcik.com/2010/04/sacatone-overlook-to-goat-canyon-hike.html




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BorregoWrangler

Rendezvous Conspiracy
GREAT pics and writeup...


Can I get a bit more detail? Or is that it....is it obvious from the right towards Mortero Palms? I only ask as I am really interested in checking this out...but it's a 3 hour drive just to get there...don't wanna be wandering around looking lost hahaha

Yeah that's about it. Here's the GPS cords for the trail head: N32° 43.215 W116° 08.925

Its also listed in Spot Adventures. http://www.spotadventures.com/trip/view?trip_id=190406
 

pmorr4793

New member
We have failed twice hiking to the trestle from Mortero Palms - so grueling! Just how risky is hiking the tracks (company cops?)? If we go in March '11 is it likely the tracks will be cleared by then? Any advice is appreciated.
 
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