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Old Banner Toll Road Trail Professional Review and Guide
"Honeycombed hillsides and bits and pieces of rusted equipment—that is the legacy left behind by Julian’s gold-mining heyday over a century ago. Although a few mines continue to be worked sporadically even today, most have long been abandoned. For a look at the Warlock Mine—one of the first mines to be discovered (1870) and one of the last to be extensively worked—try this short hike down the Old Banner Toll Road."
--Jerry Schad, Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press).
Once you get to the end of Woodland Road, walk a few hundred feet down the "private road" to the trailhead. From there, it was a relatively nice walk along the edge of the mountain with some rusty old items along the way. Once you take the turn off to the left to see the warlock mine - WATCH OUT FOR TICKS! By the time we had reached the old mine, we had about 15-20 ticks on each of us. Once we brushed them all off of our clothing, we still had to walk through all the tick-infested brush on the way back up. There were a lot fewer ticks on the main trail this time of year so I would recommend avoiding the side trail toward Warlock and stick to the main trail, at least in May! We were so paranoid about the ticks on the way back, it was not quite as enjoyable as it should have been!
This was a very windy day. There is a bit of water at the begging of the hike but I would suggest to bring your own. It's a steep down hill climb for about 3/4 of the hike. Not a lot of trees, lots of brush and not great for wildflower appreciators at least at that time of year. I took my 4 and 6 year old. We only found one of the mines but it made for a great history lesson and the rusty old car that never made it to the bottom was a hit with my boys. The view was amazing but be sure to pack a coat as it can be very windy up there.
This is a hot hike so start early. The hike reminds you of just how steep the Volcan Mountains are. It's hard to imagine this was once a toll road for miners, but we could understand how it would only take a day for the Native Americans to make their way between the mts. & the desert. There were a couple of old mines along the way and lots of fascinating rocks. Surprisingly the hike was not as steep as anticipated and there was a good breeze. The mine itself isn't a lot to look at, but it's good for kids to see how things used to be. You can get a good look at the Volcans, Banner Road and the valley to the desert on this hike.
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