Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge via Mortero Palms

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge via Mortero Palms is a 5.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Jacumba, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and mountain biking and is best used from September until March.

Distance: 5.8 miles Elevation Gain: 2,401 feet Route Type: Loop

hiking

mountain biking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

no shade

historic site

no dogs

Please be advised that there are closed tunnels on this path.

I’ve hiked quite a bit - but I’ve never scrambled down a hill side of rock before. Was a bit sketchy going down - I was really worried about going back up ...but it was easier than the up! Took us 5.5 hours - beautiful and actually in my top 5 short day hikes

hiking
bugs
off trail
rocky
2 months ago

Several notes for taking this trail: 1. Drive to the trailhead can be difficult. There are some easier routes but the one Google map guided us requires a proper 4x4. A high ground clearance vehicle is definitely recommended, because you never know what is ahead. 2. This trail is semi-primitive. Some parts are very ambiguous and hard to navigate. Detours may take hikers longer time than expected. 3. Lots and lots of spiky plants, be careful. 4. If you just want to see the rail bridge, there are easier ways alongside the railroad. This trail is a HARD AND RISKY approach to the bridge. When you arrive the cliff where you can see the bridge but hard to find the trail, take left and climb the steep rock then go down the valley through a steep and sandy decline, which is quite dangerous from my point of view. Some people would stop at the cliff and turn back. Proceed only if you are experienced and know the risk at this point!

hiking
off trail
rocky
2 months ago

Do some HOMEWORK before going to the trail! 1. The first difficulty is getting there, if you are not familiar with the surroundings, I personally don't recommend using Google Map, it might guide you drive across the railway to get to the trailhead (there is a guy mentioned that he did it with his Corolla, but I think only decent offroad vehicles like 4Runner or Wangler or trucks could make it, or maybe there is a easier way to cross the railroad). I've seen some normal SUV like Subaru Crosstrek parked at the trailhead, I guess they didn't trust Google Map and took another way. 2. It is classified as "hard" in AllTrails, I've hiked El Cajon Mountain, which is also a hard level trail but twice longer than this one, so I though this one would no be that bad, but I was proven wrong. 50% of the trail is not hard to follow if you have a offline map, but sometimes you have to work hard to find a way, as many parts of the trail are nearly vertical, beware of the plant, beware of the loose rock and beware of the sand on the rock. 3. On the way to the trestle, there are two ways at the beginning, they will eventually meet with each other, on the way back, you would see a stone arrow points at left, take that way, cuz you will see a cliff on the other way, we waste nearly 30 min to find the way down but failed, so we were forced to go back and take the left. 4. When you see the bridge, take a left on the cliff and find a way that works for you to get down hill, it is the most dangerous part, if you are not a experienced hiker, just give up, that's not being coward, always no your limits, you can always take a easier way to get the bridge, no need to risk your life. 5. Bring enough water and food, I took 2.5 liter and drunk it all, it's dry in the valley even if the temperature is not high at all, wear long pants and so you are not likely to get hurt by spiky plants, and remember always hike in groups. 6. Some say it would take 5 hour to finish, but we ended up with 8 hours, we did take some wrong ways (9.3km on AllTrails but we actually hiked 13.3km) and waste about 1.5 hours, but it would still be around 6.5 hours, make sure you start early and finish before sunset.

hiking
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Great short day hike. Definitely recommend for experienced hikers who enjoy a challenge. The AllTrails description of 5.8mi/2400" seems off. My own recording in Strava came up to 9.38mi/3,276" (with a bit of walking to the trailhead and on the railway tracks, but not much). Few pointers: 1. The road to the trailhead is a bit rough, but perfectly fine for my old Corolla. The challenge was that Google Maps steered me off-road several times, so I had to come to a tough place (once a high railway crossing) and then go back to the road to go around. No big dea, just drive slowly. 2. The trail is pretty easy to follow for the most part, but do expect to consult with the AllTrails map a few times and potentially correct back to the red trail line. Cell coverage is good throughout the trail (AT&T), but even an offline map would suffice to show your location vs. the trail.

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

what a hike! Okay this hike is definitely one to remember. The trail is not easy to follow and you could easily get lost. Try to download the map and do your research before going. We started the hike late and it got really hot, climbing the rocks was not fun at all and almost gave up on the last .3 miles just because no one knew if we were in the right path. The bridge is beautiful and worth it but we were too tired to explore all the tunnels. On the way back we came through the oasis and once again lost the trail, I was just over with the trail at that point, the heat and everything got to me. This was a hard hike and DON"T RECOMMEND IT for beginners!

hiking
muddy
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Although the views from this hike were gorgeous, the trail was so unidentifiable at points we questioned our safety as we hiked and decided not to continue on towards the bride when the grade of the trail became nearly vertical. On the way back, we decided to try the other side of the larger of the two loops and were greeted with tons of difficult boulders to climb down. From time to time you could find the trail but the boulders, despite being plenty sturdy, seemed very dangerous. If you do this hike be ready for some intense scrambling and leave yourself lots of extra time to get back to the car, especially given the bumpy dirt road you have to take to get to the “trailhead”. We ended up taking 5 hours even without finishing.

The trail is open. I do not know why the previous review was saying it was closed. Difficult hike. I thought we could do it in 3 hours, but it took 5hrs. So allow plenty of extra time. Seeing and walking along the train trestle bridge was worth the hard hike. Start early.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

This hike is very difficult and should not be taken lightly. Do not attempt alone, or without proper planning and gear. The ascent out of Mortero wash is a steep sandy hike. The descent into Goat Canyon is very steep and is less of a hike and more climbing down over obstacles, then climbing back up them on the return. You should be seriously evaluating your ability to get back up over every obstacle that you climb down on that side of the hike. If you start to question your ability, turn around and head back out. As many others have said, the path disappears and reappears so GPS and good route finding skills are imperative. The total distance is over 7 miles at a very slow pace, so ensure you have plenty of time to attempt.

3 months ago

Sad , but Happy to report this hike is CLOSED, both way due to ( You will be cited ) the tracks are going to Re - Open sometime this year ! Can't wait to take that train ride :)

AllTrails route is pretty good. If you stick to the trail, there is still a fair bit of boulder scrambling. Nothing too intense. Just because I wasn’t sure myself - you CAN get on to the bridge easily via this route (Montero Palms). I thought this route dumped you out above the bridge and you couldn’t on it - not the case. Can walk across the bridge and go into the first tunnel. Pretty cool. AllTrails mileage I think is a bit off. Our Harmon has over 8 miles, but we did walk across the bridge and got off course a couple of times.

hiking
rocky
scramble
3 months ago

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

A pretty intense hike. Be prepared for scrambling on huge rocks, inclines in soft sand, and other fun but sometimes sketchy things. Some parts of the trail have little to no markings and it’s very easy to get lost. Bring lots of water and good shoes!

Trestle fail

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