Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge Hike: My Experience as a Beginner Hiker

August 21, 2020

The Goat Canyon Trestle Bridge hike is a fucking beast, and I’m SO happy we tackled it!  From what I understand, there are 2 different ways you can get to the trestle; one is by starting at Carizzo Gorge Road, and the other starts at Mortero Palms.  We started at Mortero Palms.  I’d love to hike both ways someday, the Carizzo Gorge entrance goes along the railroad tracks and had abandoned train cars along the tracks.  From Mortero Palms, the route is a 5.8 miles loop trail and took us 8 hours roundtrip, with about an hour or more rest time at the site.  It is important to know that most of the hike, if not all, is in full sun.  At a few spots we were able to sit under large rocks and enjoy a quick cool down, but that didn’t happen very often to be honest. The trail is only marked by a few faint arrows drawn on rocks and boulders.  Extremely helpful, but you really can’t rely on them.   Having a GPS device on hand is really important on this hike as it’s very easy to get turned around and lost.  Right when you’re able to see the trestle in the distance, we come up to a small cliffside with a rope to help scale your way down.  Keep in mind you’ll be doing this on the way up too! From there its a short hike to the trestle.

We got to the site and of course went over the bridge exploring the tunnels on either side, enjoying the shade and cool air.  During the entire hike, we only ran into people at the bridge.  One group had taken the trail along the tracks and two mountain bikers who had been camping along the tracks for a few days.  Unfortunately, we enjoyed our stay a little too long at the trestle site, and by the time we began our hike home, it was relatively late.  The unfortunate part is that the last hour of our hike was in pure darkness.  Pitch black, the only light coming from our headlamps.   The four of us were climbing down a cliffside of huge boulders, navigating our way down by stepping out every few feet to make sure it was safe and we weren’t going to tumble down the cliffside. Lol.  It was an adventure, to say the least, but SO much fun.  I can’t recommend it enough.  I felt so accomplished after this hike, and the beer afterward at The Lazy Lizard was honestly the best beer of my life.  So headlamps, GPS, a ton of water, and snacks are all a must.

A little history on the trestle bridge…

The Goat Canyon Trestle is a wooden trestle in Southern California. It was built in 1933 as part of the San Diego and Arizona Eastern Railway after a tunnel collapsed in Carrizo Gorge. It was once coined the ‘impossible railroad’ because of it’s location. It ran through Baja California and eastern San Diego before ending in Imperial Valley. The trestle was made of wood, rather than metal due to temperature fluctuations in the Carrizo Gorge.  By 2008, rail traffic stopped using the trestle because it was deemed unstable.

For more information on the hike, and the different trailheads, follow the links below. Good luck and be safe!

Modern Hiker

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