4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Mason Valley Truck Trail

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, a small party led by the Spanish Colonel Pedro Fages chased after army deserters from the Presidio of San Diego, trekking through a narrow declivity known as Oriflamme Canyon on their way east from the Cuyamaca Mountains. This was the first recorded passage by Europeans into the low-lying, arid region now called the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Today, Fages and his men would find the trek down Oriflamme Canyon somewhat easier. No pavement has ever been laid down here, but a graded dirt road, open only in part to motorized vehicles, makes walking or mountain-biking easy — especially when done in the downhill direction as described here. The entire trip measures 8.5 miles, with a descent in elevation of more than 2000 feet. Since this a one-way trip, you’ll have to arrange for a pick-up at the end of your walk or ride. There are 28 miles of two-lane highways to drive between the start and end points. Perhaps your volunteer shuttle driver can while away three or more hours in Julian during the time you’re hiking (or spend less than an hour there if you’re biking). Don’t wait until summer to take this trip; by late May the lower part will get uncomfortably warm. Also, don’t forget to pack along plenty of water.

Start at the Pedro Fages historical monument along Sunrise Highway, 1.7 miles east of Highway 79. Find and follow the California Riding and Hiking Trail, which strikes northward through a broad meadow. Pass through a cattle gate and turn right at the next road. Now choose between two alternate routes. The left branch, traveling into upper Chariot Canyon, is rougher and harder. The right branch, Mason Valley Truck Trail, offers a more gradual descent.

On ahead, the truck trail cuts more sharply down the precipitous north wall of Oriflamme Canyon, losing about 1000 feet of elevation in a mile and a half. From far above the canyon bottom, you’ll probably hear the sound of rushing water, at least before summer’s heat silences it.

After a junction with Rodriguez Canyon’s four-wheel-drive trail on the left, Mason Valley Truck Trail skirts the base of massive Granite Mountain. Cholla cacti glisten on its slopes. Then the road eventually curves right, away from the mountain, but a remnant of the California Riding and Hiking Trail continues east along the mountain’s base and strikes Highway S-2 at mile 26.5 — a good place for you to be picked up. This point on the highway can be found 0.8 mile west of Anza-Borrego’s Box Canyon Historic Site.

Mason Valley Truck Trail
Descend from Cuyamaca to Anza-Borrego, the easy way.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 70 miles
Hiking length: 8.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous (hiking); moderate (mountain biking)

  • This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Cooler weather just an opening for Pelly's clam chowder

Northwest oysters, local fish, and a sourdough bread bowl in Carlsbad
Next Article

San Diego's secret and not-so-secret Trump supporters

‘Marilou, don’t say anything. You’re going to get hurt.'

Two hundred thirty-eight years ago, a small party led by the Spanish Colonel Pedro Fages chased after army deserters from the Presidio of San Diego, trekking through a narrow declivity known as Oriflamme Canyon on their way east from the Cuyamaca Mountains. This was the first recorded passage by Europeans into the low-lying, arid region now called the Anza-Borrego Desert.

Today, Fages and his men would find the trek down Oriflamme Canyon somewhat easier. No pavement has ever been laid down here, but a graded dirt road, open only in part to motorized vehicles, makes walking or mountain-biking easy — especially when done in the downhill direction as described here. The entire trip measures 8.5 miles, with a descent in elevation of more than 2000 feet. Since this a one-way trip, you’ll have to arrange for a pick-up at the end of your walk or ride. There are 28 miles of two-lane highways to drive between the start and end points. Perhaps your volunteer shuttle driver can while away three or more hours in Julian during the time you’re hiking (or spend less than an hour there if you’re biking). Don’t wait until summer to take this trip; by late May the lower part will get uncomfortably warm. Also, don’t forget to pack along plenty of water.

Start at the Pedro Fages historical monument along Sunrise Highway, 1.7 miles east of Highway 79. Find and follow the California Riding and Hiking Trail, which strikes northward through a broad meadow. Pass through a cattle gate and turn right at the next road. Now choose between two alternate routes. The left branch, traveling into upper Chariot Canyon, is rougher and harder. The right branch, Mason Valley Truck Trail, offers a more gradual descent.

On ahead, the truck trail cuts more sharply down the precipitous north wall of Oriflamme Canyon, losing about 1000 feet of elevation in a mile and a half. From far above the canyon bottom, you’ll probably hear the sound of rushing water, at least before summer’s heat silences it.

After a junction with Rodriguez Canyon’s four-wheel-drive trail on the left, Mason Valley Truck Trail skirts the base of massive Granite Mountain. Cholla cacti glisten on its slopes. Then the road eventually curves right, away from the mountain, but a remnant of the California Riding and Hiking Trail continues east along the mountain’s base and strikes Highway S-2 at mile 26.5 — a good place for you to be picked up. This point on the highway can be found 0.8 mile west of Anza-Borrego’s Box Canyon Historic Site.

Mason Valley Truck Trail
Descend from Cuyamaca to Anza-Borrego, the easy way.
Distance from downtown San Diego: 70 miles
Hiking length: 8.5 miles
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous (hiking); moderate (mountain biking)

  • This article contains information about a publicly owned recreation or wilderness area. Trails and pathways are not necessarily marked. Conditions can change rapidly. Hikers should be properly equipped and have safety and navigational skills. The Reader and Jerry Schad assume no responsibility for any adverse experience.
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Charger Corey Liuget gives $1000 to Barbara Bry

SeaBreeze Vacation Rentals helps Todd Gloria
Next Article

Appalled by cigarette ad, frightened by Gloria

Under the slavery of San Diego developers
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close