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The Santa Rosas Sawmill Trail (Sort Of) Messages in this topic - RSS

tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827


8/24/2016
tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827
Was looking for a good way to put in some hiking and dodge the heat so I decided to head out to the Santa Rosas this past weekend for an overnight trip. Was curious about the dirt road that switch backed up the northern slopes toward Toro Pk. The road was built in the 1930's to access timber in the Santa Rosas. A mechanic from ND named Arthur Nightingale became interested in the Santa Rosas and bought land on top and built a cabin near Stump Spring. With the Palms to Pines Hwy under construction, he decided to purchase land at Pinyon Flats and sell lots. To furnish lumber for the new construction, he built the sawmill near the treeline. Little remains except a kiln and a nearby log splitter. A great resource for this area and the adjacent San Jacintos is "San Jacintos" by Robinson and Risher. The BW photos below are from this book:

San Jacintos by tomteske, on Flickr

The Sawmill trail dirt road. It ends five miles up at the sawmill ruins where a trail continues to the top.

Sawmill Trail Sign by tomteske, on Flickr

Sawmill Trail Sign2 by tomteske, on Flickr

Was a little disconcerting to note smoke coming from the west Santa Rosas when I started and almost thought of calling it in till I saw a spotter plane circling. Later from far up the road, watched a Huey land in the parking lot multiple times blasting my car with rotor wash. Not sandblasted when I got back luckily. Lots of aircraft overhead all day. Here's a water drop by a helo near the center of the screen. My iPhone doesn't have a zoom lens upset

Water Drop by tomteske, on Flickr

Arrived at the old sawmill ruins. The most notable structure is the old charcoal kiln.

Kiln by tomteske, on Flickr

Kiln Door by tomteske, on Flickr

Kiln Clouds by tomteske, on Flickr

Was going to take a leisurely lunch and explore two springs to the west when I noted smoke coming out of the forest ahead.

First Smoke by tomteske, on Flickr

Had to head further up the road into the wilderness toward the smoke.

Wilderness by tomteske, on Flickr


Sawmill Trail Barrier by tomteske, on Flickr

It was uphill from a meadow with an active spring and lots of plastic piping which started making me a speck nervous since informal farming operations are know to occur this time of year in the Santa Rosas. Gave a couple yells to make sure I wasn't interrupting anyone and ended up startling a deer and myself.

First Smoke2 by tomteske, on Flickr

Ended up calling the fire in and got a call back from a BLM firefighter who said he would take care of it. Was a log on fire and this pic is after me stomping on the part in flames and dumping about 2L of my drinking water and another liter I got from the spring on top of it.


Lightning Log by tomteske, on Flickr

Nearby, another burned out log.


Lightning Strike by tomteske, on Flickr

The spring pipe had a trickle coming from it and the plastic lined basin below was in disrepair

Sawmill Spring by tomteske, on Flickr

The smoldering log didn't seem to be a threat and when some other people showed up, I decided to head on up the dirt road that travels up to the Santa Rosas crest. The road to the sawmill is a nice gradual incline and fairly smooth, but after the sawmill, it's pretty rocky and a lot steeper. Here's a nice smooth section with a great view of San Jacinto.


San Jacinto by tomteske, on Flickr

Shortly thereafter, it started to lightly rain and was a nice way to finish the rest of the climb to the top. Now, pretty much out of water after losing some on the log fire, I headed the two miles straight toward Santa Rosa Spring, the one fairly sure thing water source up on top.


Santa Rosa Springs by tomteske, on Flickr

Lots of fire prevention signage on the way. Place by Desert Steve Ragsdale in the 1940's after a fire, his cabin on top of Santa Rosa Mt unfortunately fell victim to what his poetry railed against.

DSR Poetry by tomteske, on Flickr


DSR Poetry2 by tomteske, on Flickr

DSR Poetry3 by tomteske, on Flickr

Wanted to spend the night somewhere near Santa Rosa Pk and after scouting out some nice view spots, got lazy and ended up with a sweet spot with level ground and a big picnic table. Guess everyone's serious about fire prevention up here smile

No Campfires by tomteske, on Flickr

ZPack Altaplex by tomteske, on Flickr

A few hundred feet up are the remains of Desert Steve Ragsdale's cabin. Nearby was parked a Civil Air Patrol vehicle bristling with antennas presumably helping out with the swarm of aircraft involved in fire suppression.

Desert Steve Ragsdale Cabin Site by tomteske, on Flickr

Desert Steve Ragsdale Cabin by tomteske, on Flickr

Santa Rosa CAP2 by tomteske, on Flickr

Santa Rosa CAP by tomteske, on Flickr

The next morning, headed out toward Stump Spring to see if I could see the old cabin nearby, the only other cabin on top of the Santa Rosas. However, it was fenced and signed and fresh tire tracks since yesterday's rain leading to it made me keep on hiking. A pic from yesteryear.

Stump Springs Cabin by tomteske, on Flickr

Heading back down. Pinyon Flat and the parking lot far below.

Pinyon Flats by tomteske, on Flickr

Wanted to see if BLM actually showed up yesteday. Not sure why BLM was involved since it wasn't on BLM land but interagency cooperation I guess. The burning log was dragged a couple hundred feet out of the forest onto a road while the site was dug up and drenched. Shortly thereafter, bumped into the firefighters who were coming back to take a second look and make sure everything was okay. They said they had lots of fires in the Santa Rosas in the previous days secondary to multiple lightning strikes and this fire was from yet another.

Burning Log by tomteske, on Flickr

Afterward by tomteske, on Flickr

BLM Firefighters by tomteske, on Flickr

The meadow nearby. Heard a funny noise and discovered the spring actually has pretty high flow! Tried to trace the 2" piping uphill to the origin but it went underground and I lost interest. Click on the "Gurgling Spring" pic to see a short clip.

Sawmill Spring Meadow by tomteske, on Flickr

Mistletoe by tomteske, on Flickr

Gurgling Spring by tomteske, on Flickr

Spring Pipe by tomteske, on Flickr

The trip ended up being about 23 miles and 5K G/L. THOUGHT I had climbed the Sawmill Trail to the top till I realized later from other internet posts/pics the real trail exited the sawmill ruins to the west and ended up near the communication tower access road near Santa Rosa Springs. Next Time! Enjoy. Tom

Sawmill Trail GPS by tomteske, on Flickr
edited by tommy750 on 8/24/2016
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dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 2282


8/25/2016
dsefcik
dsefcik
Administrator
Posts: 2282
Nice trip and report Tom, wish I could have joined you. I was exploring Pine Valley gold mines Sunday and saw lots of lightning just up towards the Lagunas. Looks like a good trip, hope your new Zpack gear earned it's pay....8-)

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ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 763


8/26/2016
ziphius
ziphius
Posts: 763
I like the view from inside the kiln. Funny-sounding spring too. That tent is known for its head room big man.

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http://www.coyotelearning.org
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tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827


8/27/2016
tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827
dsefcik wrote:
Nice trip and report Tom, wish I could have joined you. I was exploring Pine Valley gold mines Sunday and saw lots of lightning just up towards the Lagunas. Looks like a good trip, hope your new Zpack gear earned it's pay....8-)


Zpack stuff seems to be working out well so far. Just wish they'd make water lighter smile. Got any pics from the mines??
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tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827


8/28/2016
tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827
ziphius wrote:
I like the view from inside the kiln. Funny-sounding spring too. That tent is known for its head room big man.


Was kind of a weird sound to hear out there. From old pics the pipe drained into a plastic lined basin and then over to a pond near the kiln that's now dry.
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rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 463


9/5/2016
rockhopper
rockhopper
Posts: 463
Great trail report! I remember the old cabin before it burned down. 20 years ago?? I might have some old film pictures buried some where. It's nice to get up and in the shade of the pines this time of year. I see Borrego Springs dipped into the 90's this week. Yeah!
Thanks for sharing.
edited by rockhopper on 9/5/2016
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tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827


9/6/2016
tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827
rockhopper wrote:
Great trail report! I remember the old cabin before it burned down. 20 years ago?? I might have some old film pictures buried some where. It's nice to get up and in the shade of the pines this time of year. I see Borrego Springs dipped into the 90's this week. Yeah!
Thanks for sharing.
edited by rockhopper on 9/5/2016


Would be nice to see your pics of the Ragsdale cabin. Walked outside this morning in El Centro and agree the weather is starting to feel a little better.
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Roryborealis
Roryborealis
Posts: 17


9/12/2016
Roryborealis
Roryborealis
Posts: 17
Awesome trip! Id love to check that area some day.
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sddarkman619
sddarkman619
Posts: 152


9/20/2016
sddarkman619
sddarkman619
Posts: 152
the cabin by the spring you didn't go see, why didn't you go further? what did the sign say? and could you not go see it from a different angle?
How many miles was the hike? and did you walk it from the bottom where your tracks begin?
edited by sddarkman619 on 9/20/2016
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surfponto
surfponto
Administrator
Posts: 1246


9/20/2016
surfponto
surfponto
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Posts: 1246
Very cool trip Tom,
Couldn't stop scrolling back and forth through the pictures.
Bob
edited by surfponto on 9/20/2016

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tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827


9/20/2016
tommy750
tommy750
Posts: 827
sddarkman619 wrote:
the cabin by the spring you didn't go see, why didn't you go further? what did the sign say? and could you not go see it from a different angle?
How many miles was the hike? and did you walk it from the bottom where your tracks begin?
edited by sddarkman619 on 9/20/2016



The cabin is on private property and well fenced and signed. The sign at the locked gate said "No Trespassing." I possibly could have attempted to skirt the property for a view but wasn't that interested.

The trip was about 23 miles and I started in the Cactus Spring Trail parking lot. You can drive the five miles to the sawmill ruins but I didn't.
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sddarkman619
sddarkman619
Posts: 152


9/20/2016
sddarkman619
sddarkman619
Posts: 152
Nice TR and cool trip. looked at the images on Flickr and bought that book today, thanks!
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RobertMarcos
RobertMarcos
Posts: 23


10/23/2016
RobertMarcos
RobertMarcos
Posts: 23
A powerful effort and accomplishment. I've ridding my mountain bike about halfway up the Sawmill Trail. Not easy at all, especially when you consider that the parking lot at Cactus Spring Trail is 3,600-feet elevation, while the summit of Toro Peak is 8,717, meaning that you hiked about 5,000 up, (and back down).
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David Byrum
David Byrum
Posts: 1


8/20/2017
David Byrum
David Byrum
Posts: 1
Cool trip report...I love the Santa Rosas, spend a lot of time up there escaping the El Centro heat.
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