5S06 - Old Control Road

4.7/5 (7 reviews)
Idyllwild, California (Riverside County)
Last Updated: 07/31/2020
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Trail Information

Highlights

The "Old Control Road" is the highlight of this San Bernardino National Forest trail just west of Idyllwild, California. This road was the only route to Idyllwild from the west and it was completed in 1909. This photo is from waypoint 8 "Half-Way Springs", where the tourists from Hemet on their way to Idyllwild would re-fill the radiators on their Model T Fords. The Spring would pool behind that concrete footing, now covered with leaves. It became so busy in the early 1920's that in the months of July, August and September, traffic had to be controlled with one-way travel times. You had 1 1/2 hours to complete the 6 mile trip. If unable to do so you were required to pull over and wait for the next available time slot or risk a fine or arrest. You might enjoy the 5 page history of Idyllwild here.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

4.7/5 (7 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/16/2020

Sunday morning, I started up in Idyllwild off Apella Rd/ Tollgate Rd. I used my 2020 Tacoma TRD OR in 4 Hi, 1st gear all the way, and just cruised along enjoying the great views on the way down the mountain. There are very few and far between any spots to turn around or room for two way traffic. There were some spots that seem like they would tough to do going up from the 74, along of blind corners, narrow paths, drop offs so use caution and don’t go fast. Can’t wait to do this trail again but next time I’ll start from the the highway and go up. For the most part it was clean, but I noticed a lot of trash, shotgun shells and ammo boxes next the 74. Also there’s two ways to get to the 74 if you’re going down the trail take the left before the highway, if you go right it’s a blind exit into the highway with trees on the left so it’s hard to tell if cars are coming. If you’re starting from the Hwy going up the mountain, there’s a really small clearing between some rocks painted orange, hard to see in the tree shade, I don’t recommend starting there, just drive another 30 feet or so East and you’ll see the other clearing to start the trail.
Trail Review: 5S06 - Old Control Road - Ken Bules
Trail Review: 5S06 - Old Control Road - Ken Bules
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Dennis Clark
Official Crew
18650
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/31/2020

My friend Robert was my trail backup when I lived in California. I’m now mapping trails in Idaho. Robert is doing an excellent job of running the trails and providing much needed Trail Reviews, check out this review from 7/31/20
Robert
Official Crew
31450
Status: Open
Rated 4/5
Visited: 07/31/2020

We entered at the 74 or west end of the trail. The trail head, right on the 74 is creepy. Full of trash piles and hidden by brush from the main road and unpleasant odors. I would pick another spot to air down before you get to the trail head. The first part of the trail is winding, steep and narrow with extreme drop offs on one side. I did not encounter another vehicle on this Friday and very happy as there are few spot to move over. The trail is marked for licensed vehicles only or no Green Sticker vehicles. Not a trail to be sliding around corners with the intense dropoff on 1 side. Hard packed with a thin layer of sand. About a 3000ft climb in 5 miles. I saw up to 10-12 degree incline at the steepest but 2wd all the way was no problem. Near the Half Way springs it suddenly becomes dense and lush with trees. There was no water running in the spring that we could see. Around way point 4 the road flattens to wide flat well kept 2 way road.
Status: Partially Open
Visited: 05/07/2020

The entrance from the 74 is still closed with some construction work. It looks like they are working on some kind of drainage solution. Anyhoo, I entered from Apela Drive with my stock 2WD Jeep Commander. Was having a pretty good time. Ruts and mud puddles were all manageable. The trail was mostly wide enough to choose an easier path on one or other side. There were a few boulders. I moved one larger one over. There were a few soft berms that I scraped bottom on but I only have 8 1/2" clearance. When I hit the end at 74 my path was blocked by a large generator parked across the trail. I had to back up a couple sandy switches before I could turn around. That was a challenge, but Abel who was working lane control on the 74 was nice enough to spot me and get me back on my way all the way back the way we came. Would be great to do this again without the trail blockage.
Trail Review: 5S06 - Old Control Road - Douglas Tang
Trail Review: 5S06 - Old Control Road - Douglas Tang
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Status: Temporary Closure
Visited: 11/16/2019

The entrance from hwy 74, point 9 on this map, was closed. Looks like a bunch of Construction work is happening in the area. I didnt try entering from the other side, so this is just an fyi.

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