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El Paso Mountains - A Journey Through Time

Jeep Cherokee
Scott Schwartz | Writer
Posted March 1, 2010

The Mojave Desert's Bonanza Trail

Running through the heart of southern California's El Paso Mountain range — an area rich in mining history — the Bonanza trail takes the off-road explorer on a journey through time, to an era when men braved the searing heat (and sometimes each other) in order to pursue their dreams of wealth. The Bureau of Land Management, which administers the area, has placed signs and markers at many of the prominent sites. Plus, the trail affords views of stunning scenery from vantage points that are accessible by stock SUVs (four-wheel drive with low-range is a must, though).

We begin our adventure by heading north on Route 395 past Kramer Junction. Roughly 33 miles north of Kramer Junction, we turn left onto Garlock Road, a two-lane paved road, which is itself named for a ghost town. But that is another story. The trail can also be accessed via the 14 Freeway, which is easier for those coming directly from the Los Angeles area. Since the author lives in San Bernardino County, we are coming in through the back way.

Another 3.8 miles brings us to the turn-off for Goler Gulch, which begins as a graded dirt road. The road is hard to spot from the highway, but there are a couple of signs that are slightly set back from the highway. One of them says "Goler Heights." Stay on the dirt road and avoid the private community that appears on the driver's left side. A short distance past the trailer park, the road descends into Goler Gulch. At this point, we're about a mile off the highway and the trail becomes very sandy. Four-wheel drive should be engaged. The surrounding hills are full of remnants of the mining activity that once took place here. Old mine entrances and rotted wood - presumably from old head frames - are scattered throughout Goler Gulch. However, the main attractions here are the two cabins, both of which are easily accessible. One of them is in rather dilapidated condition, and sits next to an old corral and a rusted windmill. One look at this place, and we can tell that no one has kept livestock here for quite a long time. The other cabin is newer, and is in pretty good shape. Known as "The Edith E.," this cabin was built during the 1930s by some miners who were working the Edith E. Mine. Still in decent shape after all these years, the Edith E. Cabin is maintained by a volunteer group called The Friends of the Edith E. Cabin. Visitors can sleep in the cabin for up to two nights, per BLM regulations, free of charge.

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