Among outdoor aficionados in Southern California, the Goat Canyon Trestle is considered one of the best hikes in the region. The hike is difficult, remote, and the midpoint of the “trail” is an iconic railroad bridge that is the largest freestanding wooden trestle in North America and the world.
The Route from Mortero Palms Trailhead to the Goat Canyon Trestle: As I said yesterday, there is no “trail” that leaves the Mortero Palms Trailhead and takes you directly to the trestle. The best description (other than one’s found online) that I’ve ever read is in Jerry Schad’s Afoot and Afield, which as I’ve said before, is the bible of San Diego County Hiking. This is the route that I followed; and the route that I’m going to describe here in the next several paragraphs and pictures. As there is no “set” route, keep in mind that my directions here should be not taken as the gospel truth and that if you go, you should take a GPS and or map and compass in order not to get lost. Finally, in case you want more information (which is good); check out these trip reports here, here, here and here. I always say that more information is better, especially for a hike like this where there is no trail. And with that in mind, here we go!
Fact: the best hike in San Diego County is one that most people aren’t going to want to do, and probably shouldn’t do, unless they are physically and mentally prepared. And, even better, here’s a supplemental fact about this hike: I had so much to say about this hike that I had to break up my comments into two posts. This hike involves traveling over rough terrain. It involves using a map and compass, or GPS unit. It involves scrambling and some bouldering. It involves not following a trail. It involves off-roading to a remote trailhead; and it involves committing a whole day to hiking in and hiking out. It involves exploring, and possibly breaking the law. It involves avoiding glowing orbs, and avoiding the Borrego Sandman (or men), if they exist. In short, the best hike in San Diego County is nothing short of an epic one-day adventure. This is precisely why this hike is the best hike in San Diego County: it is an adventure. What hike are we talking about? What I am talking about is the Goat Canyon Trestle Hike to the Carrizo Gorge, or if we are being formal, the Mortero Palms to Goat Canyon Traverse.