Goat Canyon Trestle

no trespassing zone



Goat Canyon Trestle

We are not currently giving directions to this spot, sorry!

The Carizzo Gorge Railroad  was once known as "The Impossible Railroad".  It was built in 1919, cost a whopping $18 million to construct and took 12 years to finish!  It was called the Impossible Railroad largely due to the fact that it required 17 tunnels and multiple trestles in order to run.  Spanning from Yuma, AZ to San Diego, this railroad was the result of a vision of San Diego pioneer John D. Spreckles.  Spreckles worked with the overpowering forces of nature, oftentimes in 120 degree heat in the summer, to create this beautiful work of art.  To this day, the Goat Canyon Trestle is still the largest wooden railroad in the world!  The beams are made out of sturdy redwood and over 180 feet high.

After an earthquake in 1932, portions of one of the tunnel collapsed forcing a renovation. In 1976, a powerful hurricane swept through this region also collapsing some of the tunnels and creating a ton of damage.  Recently new repairs have been made and there are talks of the railroad opening up again.  For this reason, it is not unheard of to receive a ticket for exploring this very much no-trespassing area.  Proceed at your own risk!


This area has a few ghost stories looming around it too.  There are tales of glowing orbs, ghost trains  and even an alleged abominable sandman.  Have you been out here and witnessed anything freaky?  If so please share!

 Vintage photos:

Photos and experience by Ian Townsend:

This hike ended up being more than 12 miles round trip!

We saw: 8 Trestles, 12 Tunnels, 10 to walk through, 2 for storage, 2 Train yards, 1 Geocache, 1 Gravesite

I really can’t say enough about this hike.  If you have the endurance, necessary gear, experience and the drive to complete this trip, it is well worth it. I gotta say the best hike in San Diego.

Took about 6 hours total, but we took our time getting there for pics and exploration opportunities.

The Goat Canyon Railroad trestle is a prime destination for hikers in San Diego County.  The usual route is to start from Mortero Palms and hike to Goat Canyon.  This way, you approach the trestle form the north side, having to climb down a dry waterfall, do some rock scrambling, then climb back out the same way, about 6-7 miles round trip. Sounds like an awesome hike, but I opted to find another, less traveled path and did a little recon via Google Earth…along with researching the Carrizo Gorge Railroad company and it’s history of what is now known as “The Impossible Railroad.”

The Start:

Goat Canyon Trestle

I won’t divulge the exact location of our start to the public due to the dangerous and not to mention illegal route we took to reach the trestle, but I am sure that one can figure it out with all the pictures and info I will provide.

I do need to stress that this was an extremely treacherous hike and I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone who is:  scared of heights, claustrophobic or a novice hiker.  Also, this trip should not be undertaken during the summer due to the extreme temperatures in the desert.

Here is a view looking back towards our start with Round Mountain (Jacumba) in the background.  This was the first trestle we crossed.  Funny how the trestles don’t look intimidating until you have to cross them walking along the weather worn railroad ties, creaking and splintering beneath your feet.  They only got taller:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Saw these 4 tiny graves without names.  Could they be pets?  There seemed to be recent activity around the graves/memorials.  Not much info to go on besides that.

Goat Canyon Trestle

The Journey:
I guesstimated this trek to be about 5 miles each way along the tracks.  It actually ended up being 6 each way, so it was a 12 mile day.  I figured this out by the mile markers.  We started at 96 and the trestle was just past 102.
It was about 40 degrees and super windy, which added to the cold and degree of discomfort.  To be honest, if we hadn’t brought face masks and gloves, we probably wouldn’t have attempted the hike.

One of my friends ended up being unable to go, so it was just my friend Cleon and I.  Cleon is a long time friend of the family, someone who shares the same adventurous spirit as I and a super experienced outdoors-man, so I was stoked to have him along with me.

Cleon ahead of me, super bundled up!  We just passed the 4 graves  on our left hand side and can see the first abandoned train yard ahead of us.:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Notice the mile marker on the right side.  This was 96.  Goat Canyon Trestle was just past 102:

Goat Canyon Trestle

View inside the train cars.  They were still in amazing condition and looked fairly new, not quite outdated.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

The tracks the trains sat on ended here at these rocks.  There were a few decrepit structures around that seemed to be old guard shacks.

Goat Canyon Trestle

One of the old shacks and the view inside.  This was facing the river bottom.

Goat Canyon Trestle  Goat Canyon Trestle

Cleon and I looking for a way across the loose sand without falling into the barbed wire that lined the riverbed:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Lesson learned early on:  These trestles are a lot taller when you are on top of them:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

View looking back towards the train yard.  Wanted to stick around and explore the area more, but we had a destination to get to:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Leaving the train yard, we pressed on….as the journey was just beginning.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Approaching the first of 11 tunnels.  This was tunnel #5, Goat Canyon Trestle was just past tunnel #15.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnel #5

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

We push on as Carrizo Gorge starts to take shape

Goat Canyon Trestle

A drainage pipe that no doubt helps shape the river bottom at the bottom of the gorge.  This place has got to be a flash flood nightmare during a storm.

Goat Canyon Trestle

A warning to travelers?...I absolutely love the graffiti on the trains, but seeing this type of carelessness angers me.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Approaching the third trestle.  It is still way farther away than it looks.  You can see how the gorge starts to deepen as we continue.  We were also weary of rockslides all day from the wind.

Goat Canyon Trestle

As you can see, the trestle is pretty treacherous.  Numerous holes on the rotted wood, high winds and not to mention the height.  My type of trip.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

The majority of the trestles had the metal mezzanine type of flooring which was a little safer than the rotted wood.  Still, the metal was pretty shabby in some places.  This trestle wasn’t as shaky as the previous one we had just crossed, but was way longer:

Goat Canyon Trestle

5th Trestle was in terrible condition.  Metal flooring had holes and was loose in a lot of places.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Crossing the 5th trestle.  Note the holes on the right side and the poor condition of the floor.  Proceed at your own risk.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Looking back at the 5th trestle as we approached the 6th and most dangerous.  Note the foot path on the left if you want to go around:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Unfortunately, the wind was super crazy when we crossed the 6th trestle, which I didn’t take a picture of.  It was the most dangerous because it was just a crappy bridge with no railing or secure flooring.  The wind was blowing too hard to cross it so we just took the foot path around it as we came upon mile marker 98:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Approaching tunnel #6.  Every tunnel had the side path option to circumvent, which you can see to the left.  In truth, taking these bypasses is way more dangerous than staying along the tracks.  The winds are killer and the trails are very narrow and steep.  Go through the creepy tunnels instead:

Goat Canyon Trestle

As I Mentioned before, the trains with graffiti are awesome, but really?....

Goat Canyon Trestle

Exiting tunnel #6, we came to trestle #7 and also the heart of Carrizo Gorge:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

The 7th Trestle, approaching from tunnel #6.  This one was probably in the best condition of all 6 trestles we encountered: 

Goat Canyon Trestle

3 train cars at this yard.  As you can see, the gorge below has progressively gotten way deeper since our start.  As you approach, there is a massive flood basin to the right before the trains.  This would be an ideal spot for overnight camping:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

A shot of Cleon staring in shock at the sight we saw at the bottom of the gorge…..

Goat Canyon Trestle

A train car at the bottom of the gorge below Tunnels #7 & #8.  This is visible from Google Earth.  When/how did this happen?  Logically speaking there is probably no easy way to recover this car….

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnels # 7 & 8

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnel 8 was the most modern and seemed to have been worked on within the past few years.  As we approached the entrance to tunnel #8, I looked to my right at all the debris and supplies left at this yard and I saw a storage tunnel (Tunnel #7) behind us, quietly out of sight.

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnels # 7

Notice the rock wall barrier at the back of the tunnel? 

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnels # 8

Goat Canyon Trestle

The darkness really affects your depth perception, making the other side appear closer than it actually was:

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnel #9

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

Tunnel #10

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

You can see how the engineers used the natural drainage of this place.  The picture to the left does not capture the awesomeness of these natural falls, which were pretty much outside of every tunnel we encountered:

Goat Canyon Trestle

The drop into the gorge below was always a constant reminder of how small and insignificant we are in the grand scheme of things.  This hike humbled me while inspiring me at the same time.

Tunnel #11

Goat Canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

This small concrete structure upon exiting tunnel #11.  Each tunnel was unique:

Goat canyon Trestle


Tunnel #12

Awesome rock wall constructed around the tunnel #12 exit:

Goat canyon Trestle

Tunnel #13

Not a long tunnel, but tunnel #14 is a monster:

Goat canyon Trestle

Tunnel #14
I knew this was a long one from checking it out on Google Earth, but the dark definitely played games with our depth perception in the longer tunnels.  The end is way farther than it looks:

Goat canyon Trestle

Seeing the trestles in the distance gave me butterflies and I knew that we were close.

Goat canyon Trestle

Tunnel #15
The Goat Canyon Trestle exiting tunnel #15.  We finally made it!

Goat canyon Trestle

Goat canyon Trestle

Goat Canyon Trestle

The trestle was absolutely massive and breathtaking.  Not a soul around us for miles.

Goat canyon Trestle

The sheer size of the trestle was intimidating, but it was still in pretty good condition for being almost 100 years old.

Cleon walking ahead of me on the trestle.  The wind picked up like crazy at this point when we got about halfway across and I have to admit that we turned back and admired the trestle from the tunnel #15 side.  No way we taking any chances in this weather.

Goat canyon Trestle

Interesting discoloration on the rocks of tunnel #8 on the return trip:

Goat canyon Trestle

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...


Alpine Historical Society


Anza Borrego Desert

Galleta Meadows

Anza Borrego State Park

Ghost Mountain & Marshal House


Bankers Hill

Balboa Park Archery Range

Balboa Botanical Building


Balboa Dirt Bike Trails


Desert Garden


Bridle Trail


Centro Cultural de Raza


Florida Canyon


Free Tuesdays at the Park

Top of the Park

Japanese Friendship Garden

Marston Canyon & Footbridge


Marston House


Maple Canyon


Mingei International Museum


Museum of Man


Natural History Museum


House of Pacific Relations International Cottages


Old Cactus Garden


Palm Canyon


Reuben H. Fleet Science Center


Spanish Village Art Center


Twilight in the Park


World Beat Center





The Grave of Kathy Fiscus (Lost History)



Campo Stone Store Museum

Carmel Valley

Carmel Valley Cemetery



Batiquitos Lagoon

Carlsbad Flower Fields

Hosp Grove

Leo Carrillo Ranch

LHOOQ/EXREALISM Vintage Bookstore

Museum of Making Music

Self-Realization FellowshipHermitage & Meditation Gardens


City Heights 

City Farmers Nursery 

New Roots Community Farm

San Diego Peace Garden

Wat Sovannkiri Buddhist Temple


Chula Vista

Living Coast Discovery Center

Proctor Valley Rd.

Zorba's Greek Restaurant

U.S. Olympic Training Center

Upper Otay Lake



Coronado Sand Dune's Secret Message

Hotel Del Coronado

Dog Beach



Cuyamaca State Park


Dyar House Ruins 

Green Valley Falls

Stonewall Mine

Del Mar


Four-o-clock Friday's

Exotic Bird Sanctuary



Altitude Sky Bar

Chinese Historical District

Grant Hotel

Horton Grand Hotel

The Noble Experiment


Zombie Walk

Shout House


William Heath Davis House


Good Morning

San Diego Botanic Gardens


El Cajon

Kuma Bonsai Nursery

Water Conservation Garden


Summers Past Farms

Crestridge Ecological Reserve


 Altipiano Vineyard & Winery

Cordiano Winery

Daley Ranch

Deer Park Winery & 
Auto Museum

Distinction Gallery

Deer Park Monastary

Dixon Lake

Elfin Forest

Grand Tea Room

Philosophical Library

Felicita Park

Grape Day Park

Harmony Grove Spiritualist Center

Harmony Grove

Kit Carson Park Hiking Trails

Orfila Winery

Lake Wohlford

Lake Wohlford Dam

Plan 9 Alehouse

San Pasqual Cemetery 

San Pasqual Indian Cemetery

Sikes Historic Adobe Farmstead

Street Life

Record Paradise

Questhaven Retreat

Questhaven Rd.

Queen Califia's Magical Circle Garden

Phap Vuong Monatsery

Stone Brewery

Stone Farms


Dinwiddie Preserve

Grand Tradition Gardens

Masonic Cemetery

Odd Fellows Cemetery

Palomares House & Park

Santa Margarita River & Ruins


 Golden Hill


Golden Hill Park

Villa Montezuma

Victorian Homes of Golden Hill






Suspension Bridge


Imperial Beach

Mt. Olivet Cemetery

Suzie's Farm

Tijuana River Valley Regional Park Community Garden


Desert View Tower

Boulder Park


Carrizo Gorge Railyard


Coyote's Flying Saucer Retrievals & Repairs


Institute of Perception



Wolf Sanctuary

Downtown Julian

Golden Gem Mine

Julian Pioneer Cemetery

Eagle Mine

Three Sisters Falls

Kearny Mesa

 94 Aero Squadron Restaurant

99 Ranch Market

The Fruit Shop


La Jolla

Munchkin House 

Seal Beach

Secret Swings

La Jolla's Caves, Coves and Tidepools

Mount Soledad

Salk Institute

Scripps Coastal Reserve

Secrets of UCSD

Sunny Jim Cave

Pottery Canyon Natural Park

La Mesa

La Mesa's Secret Stairs

Mount Helix

McKinney House

Wat Lao Boubpharam Temple



Blue Sky Ranch

Linda Vista

Tecelote Park


Little Italy

Downtown Little Italy

Washington St. Skatepark


 Logan Heights

Chicano Park Murals

Technomania Circus

The Chrch

Writerz Blok

Mira Mesa

Camino Ruiz Trail



Aesthetigeist Art Collective

Christmas Light Displays

Community Acupuncture

Haunted San Diego Events

Little Free Library

 Urban Ruins of HIghway 80


Mission Hills

Pioneer Park

Presidio Park

Presidio Park Historic Spots 

Topiary Garden

Mission Valley 
Adobe Falls

Half Moon Tunnel

Mission Basilica San 
Diego de Alcala


Normal Heights

Folk Arts Rare Records

Herb Shoppe



Ray St.

Red Fox Piano Bar

Lips Restaurant

Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach Farmers Market

Sunset Cliffs Caves & Coves

Sunset Cliffs Hiking Trails

Villa Surf Ruins


Villa Surf (Lost History)



Succulent Cafe

San Luis Rey Mission


San Luis Rey Pioneer Cemetery


Old Town

Casa de Estudillo

Cosmopolitan Hotel

Dia de los Muertos

El Campo Cemetery

La Casa de Machado y Stewart Museum

Mason Schoolhouse

Old Adobe Chapel

Seeley Stables

Whaley House

Victorian Village Heritage Park

Pacific Beach

Kate O Sessions Park 


Abandoned Homes of Pala


Mission San Antonio de Pala Cemetery

Oceanview Mine & Inn


Palomar Mountain

 Palomar Mountain

Palomar Observatory

The Weir

Point Loma

Cabrillo National Monument

  Fort Rosecrans Cemetery

Old Point Loma Lighthouse


Blue Sky Reserve & Lake Poway 

Meadowbrook Tunnels

Cypress Canyon

Kumeyaay Interpretive Center

Metate Meadows

Lightning Brewery

Old Poway Park

Old Pomerado Rd.

Poway Back-Trails

Meadowbrook BMX Trail

Midland Tunnel

Xpressive Arts Center BYOB Classes


Black Canyon

Devil's Punchbowl

Lake Ramona

Mount Woodson Castle

Oasis Camel Dairy

Sutherland Dam



Rancho Bernardo

  Battle Mountain

Buddha's Peak

Lake Hodges

Lake Hodges Waterfall

Bernardo Winery



Rancho Penasquitos

Black Mountain Glider Port

Cara Knott Memorial Garden 

Eichar's Grave

McKamey Manor

Rancho de Los Penasquitos 

Rancho Penasquitos Waterfall 



Kumeyaay Lake & Campground

Santee Drive-In Theater

Old Mission Dam

Mission Trails Regional Park Visitor Center


San Marcos

Double Peak Park

Jack's Pond

Scripps Ranch

Ballast Point Brewery

Giant Grove Trail

Hendrix Pond

Lake Miramar

Evan's Pond


Seaport Village

B-39 Submarine

Berkely Ferryboat

HMS Surprise Ship

Medea Steam Yacht

USS Dolphin Submarine

Star of India


Serra Mesa

Murphy Canyon


Sorrento Valley

Pet Cemetery

Seabreeze Organic Farm




Torrey Pines

Blacks Beach

Mushroom House

Torrey Pines State Reserve


University Heights

Buchanan Canyon

The Massage Center

Soltan Banoo

Valley Center

Bates Nut Farm

Lavender Fields

Metta Forest Monastery

Morning Star Ranch

Old Castle Ranch

Valley Center Historical Museum

Yellow Deli



Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum

Alta Vista Gardens

Butterfly Farm

Koral's Tropical Fruit Farm & Museum

Exotica Rare Fruit Farm

Indian Store

Yellow Deli

Rancho Guajome Adobe



Warner Springs

Chapel of St. Francis Assisi 

Santa Ysabel Mission

Sky Sailing

Warner Springs Town


Big Sur

Andrew Molera State Park

Ewoldsen Trail

The Henry Miller Library


Limekiln Waterfalls

Los Padres Beach

McWay Falls

Cafe Kevah & Nepenthe Restaurant

Partington Cove

Pfeiffer Beach

River Inn

Salmon Creek Waterfall & Cave

Spirit Garden

Soberanes Creek Watershed

Tanbark Trail



California Market Restaurant

Point Lobos State Reserve

Catalina Island

Trans Catalina Trail System


 Los Angeles

Abandoned Zoo (Griffith Park)

Bronson Caves (Griffith Park)

Club 33 (Disneyland)

Hidden Treasures (Topanga)

Murphy's Ranch (Pacific Palisades)

Korean Friendship Bell (San Pedro)

Lake Shrine (Pacific Palisades)

Malibu Hindu Temple (Malibu)

Mosaic Tile House (Venice Beach)

Paramount Ranch (Agoura Hills)

The Getty (Brentwood)

The Last Bookstore (Downtown)

Museum of Death (Hollywood)

Sunken City (San Pedro)

Witch's House (Beverly Hills)


Glass Beach (Fort Bragg)


Highways 1, 101 & 46

Orange County

Mission San Juan Capistrano (San Juan Capistrano)



Abandoned Homes of Salton City

Abandoned All-Boys Military School

Cabazon Dinosaurs (Cabazon)

Eagle Mountain Railroad (Bombay)

East Jesus (Niland)

Mt. Rubidoux

Salton Sea (Salton City)

Salvation Mountain (Niland)

San Jacinto Mountains & Tram (Palm Spring)

Slab City (Niland)

Tios Tacos


San Luis Obispo

Avila Valley Barn

Bubblegum Alley

 Eberle Winery (Paso Robles)

Madonna Inn

Cal Poly Graveyard


Santa Barbara


Santa Monica

Willet & Sespe Hot Springs (Ojai)


San Simeon

Hearst Castle