Tunnels, Trestles, and the Impossible Railroad

Bike ride by the Impossible Railroad through tunnels and to a trestle in San Diego

You’re going to need a headlamp for this bike ride. Take a 15-mile out-and-back Wild West revival ride along the “Impossible” Railroad, an engineering feat that extended from San Diego, California, to Yuma, Arizona. Starting in Jacumba’s Carrizo Gorge, pedal parallel to the railroad track and through seven tunnels—the longest of which is half a mile! The railroad is no longer in use, but there are still plenty of remnants. Look for two abandoned railcars along the way, and more wooden trestle bridges than you’ll care to go over (most cyclists dismount and wheel their bikes next to them during these short sections). You might even spy the bighorn sheep that call the Carrizo Gorge home, bounding up the boulder-strewn hillsides. Eventually you’ll see the Goat Trestle Bridge, built in 1932 following an earthquake that collapsed one of the tunnels along the route. This is the end of your ride. Marvel at the architecture of the historic bridge, walk your bike over it, or enjoy a snack here. Skilled bikers often ride across it. Return the way you came, careful to avoid the cholla cactus that skirts the trail.

BONUS BIZARRE EATS: If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, stop at the Shell gas station across from the parking lot at the end of your ride, where fried crickets and mealworms are on the menu for those with daring tastebuds!

From San Diego, take I-8 east approximately 70 miles to Exit 73 toward Jacumba. Turn right on Carrizo Gorge Road and park in the large dirt lot on your right. You’ll start your ride here. Follow the road roughly one mile until you see the sign for the De Anza Springs Resort. Turn left before the entrance and follow a short, narrow path to the railroad. Turn right onto the railroad and follow for approximately 7.5 miles to the Goat Trestle Bridge. Bring lots of headlamps/flashlights for the dark tunnels. NOTE: Spring temperatures are pleasant, but it can get dangerously hot in the summer, so it’s not recommended to do this bike ride then. Always bring more than enough drinking water and some snacks. Dogs allowed, but not advisable due to the cactus on the trailside and the potential for overheating.

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