Calcite Road

Santa Rosa Mountains State Wilderness, California

Distance1.9mi
Elevation Gain1,070ft
Trailhead Elevation593ft
Top1,157ft
Elevation Min/Max521/1157ft
Elevation Start/End593/593ft

Calcite Road

Calcite Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Santa Rosa Mountains State Wilderness. It is 1.9 miles long and begins at 593 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,070 feet. The trail ends near the Calcite Mine (elevation 1,165 feet) quarry. This trail connects with the following: Calcite Mine Narrows, Calcite Mine Slot Canyon and Truckhaven Trail.

Calcite Road Professional Reviews and Guides

"Thousands of years of cutting and polishing by water and wind erosion have produced the chaotic rock formations and slotlike ravines you’ll discover in the Calcite Mine area. The highlight of this hike is, of course, the mine itself. During World War II, this was an important site—indeed the only site in the United States—for the extraction of optical-grade calcite crystals for use in gunsights. Trench-mining operations throughout the area left deep scars upon the earth, seemingly as fresh today as when they were made. The road to the mine is still passable by jeeps and other high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles, so you may encounter occasional traffic on your hike."

"Although short, Calcite Mine Trail is a challenging trail for high-clearance 4WD vehicles, mountain bikes, and hikers. Keep an eye out for the information board that marks the start of the trail, which descends to cross through the south fork of Palm Wash, climbing out the other side on a narrow shelf road. Sections of this wartime road are beginning to wash away, leaving a narrow path for vehicles around the natural erosion. The trail then runs along the ridge top, offering good views south toward Mexico. The difficult section of the trail starts 0.9 miles from the start. Deep, uneven sections need to be straddled, and careful wheel placement is necessary to avoid dropping into them or catching your undercarriage on rocks. The clay surface is very greasy when wet, and the trail should be avoided after rain. The deep sediment walls of Palm Wash are below you as the trail climbs a rough shelf road. The trail becomes more difficult after crossing through Palm Wash; there are large embedded boulders to climb. Extra vehicle undercarriage clearance and stamina on foot or mountain bike are advantages here. Be sure to use a spotter to watch vehicle underbody clearance; it can be a little deceptive in spots. Hiking up or down Palm Wash from the old Calcite Mine trail crossing takes you into a wonderland of narrow, slotlike canyons. Special Attractions: Panoramic view from the Salton Sea to northern Mexico; Challenging short trail requiring an excellent stock vehicle and an experienced driver; Calcite crystals and the remains of the Calcite Mine. Skilled, experienced four-wheel drivers only. This trail includes very challenging sections with extremely steep grades, loose surfaces, large rocks, deep ruts, and/or tight clearances. Mud or sand may necessitate winching."

"Although short, this is a fun drive. Just enough challenge to make it interesting but not overwhelming. Extend trip by following Palm Wash east to Salton City. Stay out of wilderness north and west of mine. Rating based on one short, rocky climb. Most of trail is moderate. Conditions can change quickly after rains. Stay out when wet. Aggressive stock SUVs can get through. Skid plates recommended."

"Thousands of years of wind erosion and cutting and polishing by water have produced the chaotic rock formations and slotlike ravines you’ll discover in the Calcite Mine area. The highlight of this hike is, of course, the mine itself. During World War II, this was an important site—indeed the only site in the United States—for the extraction of optical-grade calcite crystals for use in gunsights. Trench-mining operations throughout the area have left deep scars upon the earth, seemingly as fresh today as when they were made."

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Trail Information

Santa Rosa Mountains State Wilderness
Nearby City
Santa Rosa Mountains State Wilderness
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Seventeen Palms
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Aug 2018