Calcite Mine Trail

Salton City, California (San Diego County)

Last Updated: 04/25/2018
4.2 / 5 ( 6 reviews )
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Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 2-4
Length: 1.9 miles
Highest Elevation: 909 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Salton City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Salton City
Official Road Name: Calcite Mine
Management Agency: Anza-Borrega Desert State Park
District: Anza-Borrega Desert State Park


Highlight: Calcite Mine Trail
The Calcite Mine is a historic landmark and off-road trail in the Truckhaven Hills in the desert of Anza Borrego State Park located in the southeast corner of California. Because of the uniqueness of the mine, many people stop here when doing overland trips through the deserts of Southern California to take in the beauty of the area and the history. Getting to the mine is a moderate 4x4 trail with several obstacles that require a person to pick the appropriate line for their vehicle. This is a very short off-road run, perfect for a night run or a quick day trip if either dispersed camping or driving through the area. There are also several slot canyons in the area surrounding the Calcite Mine that make for a great hike.


Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
The trail has several hill climbs up to 45 degrees in spots and one waterfall that is roughly 3 feet tall.

Technical Rating

Dirt and/or rocky road. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 8" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 9" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 12" inches. Good tire placement likely. Can be steep but with good traction.
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Community Consensus

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***Unconfirmed but likely - the trail has been graded and is now easy. We lowered the rating till we can confirm this so there is still a small chance of an obstacle on the trail*** Several obstacles are on this trail, including some rock crawling, off-camber sections, hill climbs, and many small washouts along the cliffside of the trail. Along the route are several slot canyons, ledges, hill climbs, sand, and exploring. The narrow shelf road trail has many washouts, requiring close attention to the trail. Please pay attention to the trail at all times to avoid the possibility of driving over the edge.
This can be a popular trail at times throughout the year, please watch out for traffic.


1. Exit S22 on Calcite Road (Photos Shown Coming From East) (0 mi)
Exit S22 onto Calcite Road. The road heads off to the north and quickly drops down into a wash below. The area just off the road has enough space to park up to 10 vehicles. This is a great place to air down and disconnect your swaybars.
2. Go Straight Through Wash (0.1 mi)
Go straight through Palm Wash South.
3. Stay East - Old Path (0.5 mi)
The old path got washed out, stay on the newer eastern path. The newer path is very obvious when driving down the path.
4. Stay West - Palm Wash North Drop In (0.7 mi)
The trail has another route that drops you down into Palm Wash, but this one leads to Palm Wash North.
5. Used to be Obstacle - Rocky Ledge (1 mi)
No Longer There - The first of a few harder areas along the trail. This rocky area has a large hole that can take you by surprise. Make sure you pick your line carefully before continuing through this point.
6. Used To Be - Hard Area - V-Notch (1.1 mi)
No Longer There - This section of the trail may be the hardest spot along the trail. This v-notch has roughly a 4-foot increase in elevation as you have to carefully get your vehicle up this spot. Picking a good line is required. Open differential vehicles will struggle in this spot without picking a proper line selection or spoting.
7. Used to be - Rough Hill Climb and Descent (1.4 mi)
No Longer There - This part of the trail has you descending down a rough rocky area. Once near the bottom, there is a large rock on the side of the trail which an off-camber lean can cause you to hit the right side of your vehicle. Right after you get around the large rock, you immediately start climbing back up another difficult hill climb with many 1-3 foot ledges and rocks.
8. Park Here (1.9 mi)
There is a large parking area near the Calcite Mine at the end of the trail with enough space to park a couple dozen vehicles. Be careful as the Calcite Mine's trench is known for being difficult to see and drivers have accidentally driven off the ledge and into the mine. Always park at the bottom.
9. Calcite Mine (1.9 mi)
The Calcite Mine. Even though there are several mines in this area, many people come to this one particular mine when exploring the area. The other mines are close by requiring some additional hiking to get to them. History on the Calcite: Calcite was an essential component of the Norden bombsight. It was mined by digging trenches along Calcite-containing veins. The trenches can be recognized by their unnatural regularity. Look around and note small calcite crystals everywhere glittering in the sunlight. However, remember that it is illegal to remove any plant, animal or mineral you might find in the park. Look, experiment with the crystals, but leave them here when you are ready to leave. If you find a transparent crystal, look at some printed matter through it to observe the birefringence or double refraction of the crystal. The Norden bombsight was one of America’s most closely guarded secrets during World War II. It was the state of the art in the 1940s, used to calculate the trajectory of a bomb being dropped from high altitudes. It enabled American airplanes to hit ground targets in daylight raids from an altitude of six miles.

Directions to Trailhead

Starting Point: Salton City, CA

***From Salton City, CA**** From Highway 86 in Salton City, take Highway S22 west 8.2 miles and exit Calcite Road (Dirt) on the northside(right) of the road. ***Borrego Springs*** From the city center at Christmas Circle, take Highway S22 east (east exit out of the circle) roughly 18 miles to the trailhead which will be on the northside(Left) of the road


Dispersed camping is allowed but there are no great spots to camp on this trail due to it being on a shelf road most of the time. If you do camp in the area, no open wood fires are allowed outside of an Anza Borrego Campground unless in a metal container and during the few times year fire restrictions are lifted. Becuase Truckhaven and Ocotillo Wells are so close by, most people will either cross the road to Ocotillo or head down Palm Wash and camp down there. Which in both of those places you are allowed a wood fire.
Camping: Calcite Mine Trail

Trail Reviews (8)

Questions & Answers (1)

Q: I went here yesterday and was very disappointed to see the trail graded, a regular car could probably make it up now. Why does the state park do this? They ruined lower coyote canyon in a similar fashion a few years ago. Anything we can do to petition against this?
–Ernest (01/04/2021)
A: I would start out reaching out to the local rangers office. See what they say. Then reach out to the local clubs like San Diego Jeep Club (On Facebook) or Tierra Del Sol club. They will most likely be your best resources in the fight to keep things sort of difficult.
–Josh Noesser (02/01/2021)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California

Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it. Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company based in Orange County, California. Nybble isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you." Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information. If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.
For individual use only, not to be shared.