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Hike – Goat Canyon Trestle, Anza Borrego State Park

Hike – Goat Canyon Trestle, Anza Borrego State Park

The Goat Canyon Trestle, Anza Borrego State Park

The largest freestanding railroad trestle in North America is not in Alaska. It is in a remote corner of Anza Borrego State Park, which covers most of the Anza Borrego desert which stretches from the Mexico-America border North and East.

In the summertime, temperatures in the Anza Borrego desert regularly exceed a hundred degrees; and the desert is full of lore regarding strange creatures, strange lights, and other oddities.

In the twentieth century, the Goat Canyon Trestle was built to connect San Diego with various rail lines to the east. Today, while the trestle is intact, it is rarely used by current rail lines.

The hike to this engineering feat is a challenge in itself, as the “trail” traverses rugged desert terrain. While the roundtrip distance on this hike is only four miles, it is a trip that takes a majority of the day for most people; but the payoff of getting to see a rare piece of railroad history in the remote backcountry of California is decidedly worth it.

Well how do I get there then ?

Distance: 6.5 miles .Elevation Gain: 1500 feet.  Time to complete: 5-6 hours ( round trip)

To Get there: From Interstate 8 at Ocotillo, drive 4 miles northwest on Highway S-2 to the unpaved Dos Cabezas Road on the left, signed EC119. You should see a field of windmills and one of the first buildings you will pass will be a tower and a maintenance yard for Siemens who takes care of the Ocotillo Wind project. Go south on this road and veer right after 1.1 miles. Continue another 4.5 miles west, staying north of the tracks, and look for the paved railroad crossover on the left. Cross to the south side of the tracks, and continue west a short distance. Then veer left ( southwest, away from the tracks) and proceed 0.9 miles to a road fork. Bear left there, and stay left again after another 0.3 miles. Drive 0.4 miles further (past an isolated, rocky hill on the left, and turn right toward Mortero Palms. Go 0.5 miles to the roads end overlooking a wide wash. Trailhead ( warning – do not use google maps to tell you the directions to the trailhead, it will take you the long way around. Also realize that Google earth and Google maps do not show the windmills)

Bathroom Facilities: There are none, use the bush’s. Make sure you bring yourself a trowel and some T. P

Water: Make sure you bring a lot, a big guy like me will go through at least 2 – 3 Liters. I would also bring some sort of electrolyte to help with possible cramping.

Footwear: Bring good hiking boots, your going to need them. I would not suggest hiking poles though, I think they will just get in your way, you will need both hands free for parts of the trail.

Before going on any hike please do your own research as information on hiking trails constantly change with the weather and season


View of the Goat Canyon trestle

View of the Goat Canyon trestle


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