San Diego Trail Tramps - Scheduled Hikes for 2011

   Sumgglers Cave - Valley of the Moon - Amythest Mine

Date:   March 20, 2011  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:   San Diego Trail Tramps
Info. URL:   San Diego Reader article by Jerry Schad
Current NOAA weather forecast for Valley of the Moon area
Location:   Southeast corner of San Diego County, near Jacumba

 Description:  We're headed to Smuggler's Cave, an old hideout of bandits and smugglers, off of I-8 East, just past the San Diego County/Imperial County line, near the Mexican Border.  We'll also hike in thru Valley of the Moon, to an abandoned amythest mine.

Degree of difficulty is moderately strenuous, with the out-and-back distance at 7 to 8.6 miles, depending on where you park and start hiking. It's a 4 hr. round trip, plus breaks for exploring and lunch, and the elevation gain/loss is 900'. Be prepared for breezy weather, since March is the windiest month of the year in the high desert.

As usual, we'll meet in Hillcrest at 8:45 am to arrange carpools, then depart at 9 am sharp. The drive out to the hike area is about 90 minutes. Our first stop will be at the Desert View Tower, just off the I-8 freeway in Jacumba. From downtown San Diego, drive east on Interstate 8 for 70 miles and exit at In-Ko-Pah Park Road, about a 90 minute drive, (this is along the San Diego/Imperial County line, and just short of where the eastbound I-8 lanes take a precipitous plunge toward the desert floor). Exit Interstate 8 at the In-Ko-Pah Park Road offramp. Turn left under the freeway, and right on the old highway, which ends at the tower.

The owner, Ben Shultz (one of our members), has invited all hikers to stop by the Desert View Tower anytime they’re on their way to/from Anza Borrego Desert State Park. From the top of the tower there's a stunning panoramic view of the desert which stretches below to the east and north. Be sure to show your support and appreciation to Ben with a purchase or two from his eclectic collection of souviners. :^) (See below for info. on camping out at the Tower the day before this hike.)

After our visit to the Tower, we'll carpool back under the freeway and turn right onto the frontage road (Old Highway 80), then drive about 500 feet to where there is an information panel on the left, with plenty of parking at a large turnout.

The road up the ridge actually parallels the highway for a short distance, making it look like a deadend powerline access is the "real" road. The hike up the ridge gains about 800' and can be quite steep in places.  It can get very windy and cold out there, or it could be warm. Be prepared either way, with appropriate clothing and water. We'll plan to meet at the Tower about 10:30 and then at the parking turnout area about 11:15, then start hiking by 11:30 am.  Don't forget your wallets with ID's, etc., just in case some hunky Border Patrol officers in uniform stop us along the trail.......

(Check the Maps page of this website for more directions and maps to print out.) The abandoned amythest mine has a number of open tunnels into the mountainside (bring flashlights, but beware of bats and other critters that may be lurking inside). For safety, watch your step around loose rock and explore together in small groups.

For those who want more info. on the area, check out Schad's book in Area D-14: Jacumba Mountains, Trip 1: Blue Angels Peak and Trip 2: Valley of the Moon. In the '98 edition, they're on pp. 350-352. In the current edition, check on page 434.
A campout is planned at the Desert View Tower the day/night before our Sunday hike to Smuggler's Cave/Valley of the Moon. The owner, and one of our members, has invited us to come out on Saturday and spend the night in the Tower. A potluck dinner party is in the works, and curling up in front of the stone fireplace in the middle of the Tower is first come, first served. ;^) For more details and to sign up for it, please contact the Cyberhiker @ sbcglobal. net ASAP.

To view some great hike photos of 42 Trail Tramps in the Valley of the Moon, the abandoned amythest mine, AND an amazing search and rescue story, click HERE.