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2011 Trip Report - Cajon Pass History Tour

Cajon Pass History Trip

October 22,  2011

By Bob Jacoby

Saturday  October 22 turned out to be a very clear day in southern California and that was  perfect for our Cajon Pass History Trip. A total of 20 people in 12 vehicles  arrived at the starting point at the top of Palm Drive in the Verdemont area of  north San Bernardino. The large group included leaders Bob Jacoby and Richard  Brazier as well as San Bernardino and Cajon Pass Historian Nick Cataldo. In  addition to several guests, the following Desert Explorer members attended the  trip: Deborah Nakamoto and June Box, Alan Wicker, Marilyn Martin, Mal and Jean  Roode, Glen Shaw, Larry Boerio, Mignon Slentz, Rick and Sharon Cords, Leonard  Friedman and his daughter Hannah as well as Neal and Marian Johns. 

     After introductions and a brief description of the day’s activities, the  caravan started to make its way up the Sugarpine Mountain Trail which is  essentially a dirt road extension of  Palm Drive. The trail proved to be long  (over 17 miles) and moderately difficult as we passed through a variety of  chaparral and forest vegetation. At various points the trail offered spectacular  views of Cajon Pass below us as well as Silverwood Lake on the other side of the  mountain. The high point of the trail, both literally and figuratively,  was  Monument Peak. On top of the peak is a historical marker commemorating the  Mojave Indian Trail that follows part of this route. It was placed there by the  San Bernardino Historical Society. As Nick Cataldo explained to the group, the  trail was traveled by Fr. Garcés in March 1776 and Jedediah Smith in November  1826. 

     When we finally hit pavement near Lake Silverwood, the group was assured  that  pavement wouldn’t last very long as we headed to the nearby Cleghorn Ridge  Trail. This trail runs along an open ridge top that runs between Silverwood Lake  and I-15. The trail is named after a 19th century rancher who owned land in the area. This route actually consists of two  separate trails that parallel each other and intersect frequently. The route  that we took can best be described as “moderate” while the other route is close  to being “difficult” with a lot of rock crawling. Even on the “moderate” trail  there were some nasty eroded spots, but everyone made it unscathed to our lunch  spot toward the end of the trail. 

     After lunch we left the Cleghorn Ridge Trail and followed a side trail down  to paved Highway 138. After a short jaunt on the pavement, Nick Cataldo led us  to yet another trail monument alongside I-15 and then led us on a brief hike up  Coyote Canyon which was the route of the John Brown Toll Road in the 1850’s. We  also learned that the National Trails Highway followed this route starting in  1913 and that it is the current route of the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail.

     We then followed a dirt road that eventually went under I-15 as well as the  railroad tracks as we headed toward Baldy Mesa. This route proved to be eroded  and very steep in places but once again everybody made it to the top where there  were some more amazing views of the pass below us. We attempted to identify the  ridge where the Mormons who founded San Bernardino had to lower their wagons on  ropes, but it was not clear where the exact spot was. We then followed the rough  and rugged Baldy Mesa Road about 12 miles to paved Highway 138 to complete the  trip. At that point a group of folks opted to head for dinner in the Wrightwood  area. There was general agreement that we had a fun day from a scenic standpoint  in addition to learning a lot of history from Nick Cataldo. 

Check out the photos too!