Pinyon Mountain Road

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5/5 (19 reviews)
Borrego Springs, California (San Diego County)
Last Updated: 04/10/2023
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Trail Information


Altitude Category Icon Altitude
Camping Category Icon Camping
Desert Category Icon Desert
Iconic Category Icon Iconic
Rock Category Icon Rock
Scenic Category Icon Scenic

When you hear or read about obstacles named "Heart Attack Hill" and "The Squeeze," you must make excellent adventure decisions before you decide to take them on. Pinyon Mountain is a Jeep Badge of Honor trail in the renowned Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and arguably its most challenging. The Squeeze tests every bit of your precision as you listen to fenders scrape on its narrow passage, while Heart Attack Hill will surely give you that proverbial "heart attack" when you first see it.  This isn't a solo-type excursion trail. You will need every bit of your wheeling mates' eyes and collective experience as you conquer what people call "The Secret of the Desert." 

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

The trail is typically run as depicted here, from the west to the east, so you are going down Heart Attack Hill. The majority of the trail is a simple sandy and dirt road until you reach the first and named obstacle, "The Squeeze." Post Squeeze, there are more obstacles, including the named "Back Window Rock," notorious for vehicles leaning their tail end into and smashing out the window. Once you complete those obstacles, you reach "Heart Attack Hill," with several optional lines for descending. Once down Heart Attack Hill, the trail is complete before you reach Hapaha Flats on your way out to Fish Creek.


Wider vehicles will struggle through the Squeeze as a stock Jeep JL is about as wide as you can be, and you will most likely scratch your fenders even at that width. For reference, a stock Wrangler JL is 73.9" wide, and Bronco Badlands Sasquatch is 76.3" wide.

Badge of Honor Check-In:

There is adequate cell reception to check in the Jeep Badge of Honor app from Waypoint 1 to roughly Waypoint 12.

Time on the Trail:

Allow all day to complete Pinyon Mountain because you need to account for the time it takes to exit via Hapaha Flat Road and Fish Creek.


Due to the remoteness of the trailhead (Waypoint 1) and the overall distance after the trail is complete to get back to the nearest town, you should consider your fuel consumption as part of your planning. From the trail's end, you will need to drive roughly 22 miles of soft sand trails to get back to asphalt. From there, you will go another 26 miles to the nearest gas station that may or may not have fuel.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (19)
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/25/2024
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Ran this trail west to east. Easy going up until the squeeze. From mile 3.5-4 there's a tight section where full size trucks will need to slow down to take smart lines, you can fit with some care. There are a handful of fun rock obstacles to mess around on @ the squeeze.
Trail Review: Pinyon Mountain Road - Alex
Trail Review: Pinyon Mountain Road - Alex
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 12/30/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Great trail! We opted to run it over two days because my truck needs extra convincing. Had a much harder time than expected between back window rock and the 4' waterfall. The boulders in there are bigger than they look, and the soft moist soil made it easy for me to dig myself a bit. My weight certainly didn't help. No major damage but cosmetic dings here and there at the squeeze, back window rock, and lost my hitch light somewhere after Heart Attack. Took the left line at Heart Attack, seemed easier and added some rocks to the stack that was in the first hole.
Trail Review: Pinyon Mountain Road - Christian
Rated 5/5
Visited: 11/14/2023

Beautiful scenery and fairly quiet. This trail was relatively easy for an AWD SUV at least through the Whale Peak trailhead. However, there are some sharp rocks between waypoint 3 and 4 that will require patience to get around/over if you don't have high clearance.
Visited: 06/14/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

We headed back to Pinyon Mtn Rd for the second time in 2 weeks. Earlier attempt 2 weeks prior was stopped at the Squeeze in my 4 door JLUR with 3.5" backspace on 37s. That's a really wide setup. We attempted it and were just not savy enough and ended up scraping up the front right fender flare and was resting the rear window against the rock. After a couple hours of messing around attempting it, we turned around and headed home. Coincidentally, I had changed to 4.5" backspace 8.5" (Icon Rebound Pro beadlocks and Mickey BB A/T 37s) which bought us about 3" less track width. When we discussed going back, I decided to remove the hardtop, fenders and doors to minimize the chance of damage. This turned out to be a great decision. We taped a sheet of cardboard to the top for a Oklahoma bikini top. Don't go without shade. We got through the Squeeze only after disconnecting the front swaybar. Don't forget this, especially if you are wide and have to climb the driver side of the rocks. It will lower the lean toward the passenger side. Not much else was remarkable from other's trips. Back Window Rock was uneventful even in my long 4 door. Heart Attack was uneventful. I even got out halfway down to retrieve my camera at the top. Just stay pointed downhill and avoid turning the front steering at much angle. Enjoy. BTW, we were right at 4 hours to complete the trail from Shelter Valley to the pavement south of Ocotillo Wells, on a weekday with no others on Pinyon trail. We only saw others coming in from the Ocotillo Wells side after we reached Fish Creek Canyon.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 03/31/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

So I did this trail alone with my fiancé as a passenger in my Jeep TJ with 4” Lift on 33’s no lockers, with rear LSD! We made a 260 mile round trip for the Jeep Badge of Honor. I would not recommend this trail alone. I did not realize how remote this location is! I had my drone to spot me through The squeeze, and down heart attack hill. Obstacles were fun and challenging, but I would definitely not do this trail again with a hardtop. The squeeze is high risk for light body damage to fenders, hardtops, and mirrors. 100% plan your trip in advance as there are no gas stations for about 25 miles to the trail head and another 20-30 miles of Sandy and Silty terrain through Hapaha flats, and fish creek. pavement starts at split mountain road, and leads you to highway 86. I arrived at the trailhead at 4:45 P.M. and exited the trail at 9:30 P.M.
Trail Review: Pinyon Mountain Road - David Martinez
Trail Review: Pinyon Mountain Road - David Martinez
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