Anza Borrego

Hiking from Mortero Palms to The Goat Canyon Trestle

At the time it was built the Carrizo Gorge Track in the southern portion of Anza Borrego was called the “Impossible Railroad” due to the fact that it required the construction of 17 tunnels and numerous trestles to negotiate the foreboding terrain. This engineering marvel was completed in 1919 with the final spike being driven by railroad owner John D. Spreckels on Nov. 15, 1919.

Our first view of Goat Canyon Trestle
Carrizo Gorge Railway Tunnel

In the past we have hiked along the tracks from the Mortero Wash / Dos Cabezas area which takes you through amazing tunnels and over smaller wood trestles before climaxing at the 600′ long and 200′ Goat Canyon Trestle. Unfortunately this is not recommended as the Carrizo Gorge Railway Company (Lakeside, CA) is in the process of reopening the railway.

You can read this excerpt from the General Manager of the Mexican portion of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway below :

Our Railroad Police will soon start citing trespassers and we will prosecute criminally and civilly, anyone encountered along the right of way who is there without authorization. The 16 tunnels in the Gorge do not have escape pockets and anyone in the tunnel when a train passes places themselves at great risk.
Obviously hiking on the tracks, as enticing as it sounds, is currently a risky proposition.

Well how do I get there then ?
There is one trail to the Goat Canyon Trestle which begins at the Mortero Palms trailhead. Head out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park along the 8 and exit at Imperial Highway. (S2) Take the S2 heading north out of Ocotillo untill you see a small brown sign on the left that says Mortero Wash. From here it is a fairly easy jeep trail that takes you towards Dos Cabezas. While 4-Wheel drive is recommended , you can do it with a high clearance 2 wheel drive vehicle if you are careful.
Goat Canyon Trestle

The trailhead itself is located at the end of this 7 mile jeep trail which winds through Mortero Wash.
This hiking trail is pretty technical with many sections of loose rock and steep descends so it is only recommended for experienced hikers. Also don’t bring your dog or you will find yourself turning around at Mortero Palms.

Bob about to descend final section to Goat Canyon Trestle
Bob at Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Hike Update 01/01/05 Happy New Year !!!
Mary, Kaiel and I spent New Years Eve day hiking from Mortero Palms to the Goat Canyon Trestle. After a shaky start (we took the wrong trail) we managed to get to the trestle in 3 hours. There was a threat of rain the whole time and the wind blew cold !! 

Bighorn Sheep in Goat Canyon Anza Borrego
Bighorn sheep greeted us as we descended into Goat Canyon

As we started our descent into Goat Canyon a huge Bighorn Sheep appeared as if to say “Hey you are in the right canyon”. We didn’t so much see as hear him at first since he really blended into the hillside. This was a good sign that we were heading in the right direction, since up to that point we weren’t sure that we were.

The last 200-300 yards down into Goat Canyon is very technical. We found ourselves scrambling over truck sized boulders and negotiating loose gravel. Mary and Kaiel opted to stay near the top while I descended down to the base of the trestle.

Photos of our hike to the Goat Canyon Trestle

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