Groan Benchmark, Mount Tule


By: Wes Shelberg


GENERAL : Benchmarks Groan, Gasp, Puff Grunt and Moan are co-located in the rugged Carrizo Gorge/Canyon area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (NOTES). Do these names derive from weary and/or depraved surveyors forced to climb in the area?

Groan is a ridge benchmark near the summit of an isolated peak rising precipitously above Carrizo Gorge. The accompanying topo shows it 500-yds from the summit and about 23-ft lower. The summit has better views than Groan along Carrizo Gorge and uniquely affords a face-on view of the San Diego and Imperial Valley Railroad and its much publicized high trestle at Goat Canyon. This ill-conceived and egregious railroad and its trestles wounded a wilderness paradise. But the area is not totally Paradise Lost since, blessedly, the wounds are invisible in many landscapes between the In-Ko-Pah and Jacumba Mountains. Benchmark Groan is accessible "top-down" from the In-Ko-Pah Mountains or "bottom-up" from Carrizo Canyon.


* Driving. Drive the McCain Valley Road (AAA San Diego County Map, J-13) 2.9-miles to the Sacotone Spring Road just inside the McCain Valley Cooperative Wildlife Management Area. Drive the latter 1.7-miles to the southward Sacotone Spring spur. Either continue east tbr 0.3-mile and park at the BLM developed panorama site or take the spur (high clearance) 0.3-mile to its end (limited parking) which is the trailhead marked on the accompanying topo.

* Climbing. See route on the accompanying topo.

* Views: The top-down route crosses Peak 3679 which rises from a plateau that is higher than Groan's summit. Thus Peak 3679 has farther views which include Eagle Mtns in Joshua Tree NP, Hot Springs Mtn, San Ysidro Mtns, San Jacinto, Sombrero Peak, Whale Peak Massif, Vallecito Mtns, Santa Rosa Mtns, Anza-Borrego Badlands, Salton Sea and Imperial Sand Dunes.

* Round Trip Statistics. Excluding Mt Tule: Class 2, 2900-ft elevation gain, 6-miles, Jacumba Quad UTM 749217. Including a single detour to Mt Tule: add about 360-ft elevation gain and 0.5-mile.


* Driving: The 4-WD Carrizo Canyon Trail starts at Hyw S-2 just south of the Bow Willow Camp Road in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (AAA San Diego County Map, H- 14). Drive this trail south to the end (trailhead) currently at 6-miles and UTM 736258 (Sweeney Pass Quad, CA, 7.5-Mm, 1959). Soft sand is extensive and high clearance advisable. The trail is closed to vehicles if wet enough to allow environmental damage.

* Climbing. Hike Carrizo Canyon south 1.6-miles. The spot reached (LTTM 743236) is on the northern edge of the Jacumba Quad. Starting here, the accompanying topo traces the bottom-up climb to Groan.

* Round Trip Statistics. Excluding Mt Tule: Class 2, 1612-ft elevation gain, 6.2 miles from vehicle using the circuitous route drawn on the topo.


Mt Tule is the highest regional elevation (higher than Jacumba) and provides distant omnidirectional views including Picacho Peak, Cerro Pescadores, Laguna Salada and Pico Risco area. A one-way ascent from the Sacotone Spring trailhead is mini mal (see accompanying topo): 707-ft elevation gain and 0.6-mile.


* Groan, Gasp and Puff: Jacumba Quad (CA, 7.5-Mm, 1959); UTM 749217, 728224 and 769216, respectively

* Grunt and Moan: Sweeney Pass Quad (CA 7.5-Mm, 1959); UTM 726239 and 766237, respectively.

* Mt Tule: Jacumba Quad: UTM 726183.

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