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Elliot Mine Trail

5/5 (3 reviews)
Jacumba, California (SanDiego County)
Last Updated: 03/15/2019

Trail Information


Nestled within California's Jacumba Wilderness, just over a mile north of the U.S./Mexico border, lies a four-wheel-drive trail with some historical treasures waiting to be explored. Smugglers' Cave, reached by a short hiking trail, is a man-made shelter with ties to early 19th century Native Americans as well as Mexican banditos of the early 1900s. Today, it is a welcoming, shaded resting place for Mexican immigrants braving the trek to the United States. At the end of the trail is the abandoned Elliot Mine which sits atop Tahe Peak. Tahe Peak provides an astounding vista of the granitic rocky oasis known as Valley of the Moon Wilderness as well as views of the Salton Sea and Mexico.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

Trail Reviews

5/5 (3 reviews)
Official Crew
Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/05/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Great trail! Decently challenging with some cool stuff to see! My Tacoma did pretty well, although there were a few times I had to engage the diff lock, and I had a wheel in the air more than once. A very fun trip, and the mine was cool to explore as well.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/09/2019

Off-road Driving: We entered this trail at the Solar Panel Farm and recorded our own GPX since the route for us was a loop. This part of the trail is very difficult and you'll need a high clearance vehicle. If you have traction control or lockers will make the obstacle "The Waterfall" much easier. A truly spectacular trail that will offer technical challenges and driving skill building!
Rated 5/5
Visited: 07/15/2018

Thanks again to Mark Nitz for another great review. The Valley of the Moon has extraordinary views and the trip to the top of Elliott Mine is well worth it. This was my first challenging trip to make once I got my jeep, and I did the trail while my 07 Wrangler was still stock. Since then I have been to the top at least 8 times or so over the past 7 years.

The rock in the middle of the eroded trail, show in the video, looks daunting. My advice is to travel on the outside of the trail, not the inside, as shown in the video. Perhaps the Toyotas are too wide for the outside but a Wrangler will make it.

Once you are near the top, past the obstacle in the above video, the trail gets extremely narrow with a sheer drop. This is not for the faint-hearted and there is no way to turn around. Also, there is a hairpin turn after this shelf road, a steep climb up loose rock, and then a terribly eroded rocky turn at the top. If you're not sure, park below the obstacle and spend 30 minutes walking the final 300 yards scouting out the trail before heading up.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but when it's your first time, head up the final portion of the trail with your eyes wide open. Beginners can tackle this trail but I'd advise always doing it with someone else who's been there before. Lockers are also recommended because of the loose stone on the final steep stretch.

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