“Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep climbing.”
― Barry Finlay
We set out on a day of overlanding, hiking (see "Off the Rails Hike" video) and camping. The off-roading was a blast, the hiking was ardous and 35+ mile an hour winds ended our camping trip. Truthfully, it was still an amazing adventure!
Trail starts at Mortero Wash, takes you to the train tracks, head north on Dos Cabezas Rd for about 1/3 of mile (past the small train trestle bridge on your left and take a right to link up with the Jojoba Wash (not ladled). A few moderate technical spots along Jojoba, and Piepkorn Slot is pretty tight, so large SUV’s are not recommended.
This trail seems to have many different names, but we are just going to call it Sweetwater Canyon Trail. Also called Cooper Canyon, Sleepy Hallow and Twin Lakes Trail. We ended up just doing out and back, but after reviewing google maps when we got home, there are multiple ways to loop this trail. Just be careful as there are several private property and wilderness protected areas out there. This trail starts out very easy for the first several miles, but when you take the right to drop down into the canyon to head towards the mine, the trail gets rutted, rocky and steep.... a lot of fun!
The trail starts out on Bradford Road right off the 371. 33.501263, -116.797977 then take that to Tule Peak Road 33.488391, -116.779741 Take Tule peak all the way until it ends at Cooper Cienega 33.476925, -116.685513 Head South to the trail head on the right. It's just past Twin Lakes (no actual water in them) 33.413051, -116.686225. The mine is located at 33.424575, -116.704902
I did a lot of research on trying to find the name of this mine and there doesn’t seem to be anyone reputable information I was able to find. It is potentially called the Pawnee mine, the Talmadge mine or Cooper mine. If you have information on this, please send it my way.
On this adventure we headed south to Jacumba, California and met up with some good friend from the San Diego Jeep Club and others from around San Diego to run the Mica Gem Mine Road. This trail has many connecting trails and we stayed mostly on the 019 and 033 and did an out-and-back.There is lots to explore and this trail is definitely one we'll be visiting again!
Sweetwater Canyon Truck Trail
Cleghorn Ridge Trail is located in the San Bernardino National Forest mountain range and is a point-to-point trail with incredible scenic views. The Cleghorn Trail ( 2N47 ) can be accessed near Silverwood Lake on Highway 138 or off Interstate 15. This trail is great for all skill levels. The main trail is easy for most vehicles and there are parallel detours trail that offer a varied degree of challenges. Some of the detours have a very high degree of difficulty so make sure you check them out before attempting them.
Heartbreak Ridge is a great trail. It begins at the Cactus Flats Staging Area and then travels a few miles down Smarts Ranch (3N03). 3N03 is a very easy dirt road that travels Joshua and pine trees.
After a few miles, we turned off onto Arraste Creek (2N02) and that's when the terrain started to get fun. We found plenty of rocks and a few boulders, but nothing a stock 4x4 with good clearance and an experienced driver can’t handle (lockers make the obstacles a breeze). The view at the top of the mountain was spectacular. We came down the mountain on 2N01, which still had a few mild obstacles and great scenery.
In the last minute of the video is a night run on Skyline Ridge, which is about a 15-20 drive from Heartbreak Ridge. This trail is fun, easy, and perfect for a casual night run. If you hit this trail during the day, you'll find scenic views that will almost make you feel like you're in Tahoe.
Mortero to Jojoba Wash
Mica Gem Mine Road
Cleghorn Ridge Truck Trail
These trails aren't easy, but they won't require a fully built rock crawler either. Many of these trails have obstacles that will require a 4-WD, a good set of off-road tires, and high clearance.