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  • run: Chariot Mountain (Mason Valley, Oriflamme, Rodriquez): August 08, 2020

Author Topic: Run: Chariot Mtn (Oriflamme, Rodriguez)  (Read 526 times)


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Run: Chariot Mtn (Oriflamme, Rodriguez)
« on: August 04, 2020, 07:19:37 PM »
Location:    California Riding and Hiking Trail, Mason Valley Truck Trail (Oriflamme), Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail
Leader:    oksteve  (white JK)
Meeting Place:    trailhead opposite Banner Store   

Date:    Saturday, August 8, 2020
Meeting Time:    9:00
Departure Time:    9:15
Difficulty Rating:    1 to 2
Run Type:    Day Run
Equipment:    2m ham transceiver, 146.550 MHz

   And as usual, must have required JustRuns equipment.

Lunch on the trail.

Meet at the trailhead. The trailhead is on the 78 about 9.8 miles east of Julian.
33.06741, -116.54758

We will be running the loop (approximately 14 miles) and finishing back at the start location. We'll take it south to Mason Valley Truck Trail. We'll take that east to Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail. There is a totally optional rock garden on Rodriguez for those who are up for it. Total time on the trail approximately 4 hours.

You could drive Chariot Mtn Rd with a pickup truck so I estimate level 0 to 1.

On Mason Valley TT you won't need lockers.  You could probably do it with a connected sway bar.  On that basis it is a level 1 to 1+.  But it is rocky, narrow, and shelfy.

Rodriguez Spur TT is somewhat less challenging than Mason Valley and it is not shelfy.


The forecast high temperature is 90F.

The club info page about the trail is at:
Pictures from a previous run are at:


Limit 10. We have about 5 now.

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Steve Harlow
yahoo mail is harlow_1
8 five 8 seven 7 five 3 eight 9 two

« Last Edit: August 04, 2020, 09:41:22 PM by Administrator »
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Run report: Chariot Mtn (Oriflamme, Rodriguez)
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2020, 10:29:42 PM »

Run Report – Chariot Mountain (CRHT, Mason Valley TT, Rodriguez Spur)

Saturday, August 8, 2020, ten vehicles ran a loop of trails around Chariot Mountain.  Chariot Mtn is just south of the “town” of Banner.  The trails included the California Riding and Hiking Trail, Mason Valley Truck Trail, and Rodriquez Spur Truck Trail.  (Oriflamme Canyon is about where Mason Valley TT and Rodriguez Spur TT meet.)  The trails are in  BLM public land and ABDSP (that would be Anza Borrego Desert State Park, if you are not into that whole brevity thing).

We had a couple JKs, several JKUs, a JLU, and an FJ.

The weather was sunny. The forecast was for 90F. It was about that. Pretty warm.

The CRHT used to have more ruts but someone has graded most of it toward Oriflamme canyon.

This part is in BLM land.  Along the way you pass the Golden Chariot Mine. [This info is a couple years old.] There are obvious structures and vehicles. At this link is an article about it:
The structures look more developed than the last time I was there. There are signs indicating their disinclination to receiving guests.  We passed them by.

A bit farther on is a spot that has been popular for shooting.  There were signs saying shooting is prohibited due to dry conditions.

We took the offshoot of the Mason Valley TT that goes toward the 79. (N33.01015° W116.51997°) The low part can get muddy but was dry now naturally. Most of this section is wide and well graded. There's a locked gate after about a mile and a half. There's a wide area near by with a large old concrete tank in the bushes. There's a good view.

We doubled back to the CRHT. It continues southeast into ABDSP land.

A challenging section of the run is the mid part of Mason Valley TT.  It descends the north slope of Oriflamme Canyon.  (The Oriflamme name is of French origin.  It came to be applied to this canyon through the name of the steam ship that brought the early minors to San Diego.  English pronunciation: )

Here the trail is shelfy, rocky, with a couple switchbacks.  You need to pay attention and plan your line.  (I think this trail is more fun and just as challenging as Black Bear Pass in Colorado. The views in Colorado are more impressive though.)

Once down in the canyon we turned off to a shady spot by a seasonal stream.  This is about the only place in the area with trees and shade.  It was only about 11:00 but this is the best place to stop for lunch on a warm day.  If you look around the area you can find what are called morteros.  They are the depressions in the rocks made when native Americans used them to grind nuts and seeds.  There is a picture in the JustRuns gallery.  (Links below.)

After lunch we headed up the Rodriguez Spur.  It is easy enough for beginners but interesting enough to be worthwhile.  There are a couple gnarly rock gardens by the side. Frank G, Jeff A, and Barry B ventured the first shorter rock garden. It's pretty serious. I'd say level 3+. They put on a good show for us. There was no real damage that I'm aware of.

Further up Rodriguez Spur we took a side shoot to a defunct mine. (N33.04412° W116.51665°) Getting up to it is a moderately steep rocky climb at places. You can do it without lockers if you keep some momentum and if you take a decent line. At the top there are a couple little loops. One is level 1+, the other about a 2. And if you want to take your own path around the rocks there you can make it a greater challenge. ;) Jeff regaled us with stories of his encounters with the miner when he was still mining there. You can find bits of tourmaline around. There's a decent view too.

The Pacific Crest Trail intersects Rodriquez Spur at its high point.  We rolled passed that, completed the loop, and aired up back by the road.

It was a good day. It's good to get out, the weather was pretty warm but not oppressive, and these are decent trails with optional challenges.



There are a couple pictures at:

Some older photos are at:

The club web page on these trails, with GPX:


In case that wasn't too much information here's some more.

The Banner Recreation Ranch (including the Banner store) recently changed hands. It is 62 acres. The first gate up the trail is on their land. There had been something more than a rumor circulating that that gate was locked. We didn't find it to be different than on previous runs.


But wait, there's more!

As I was coming down Banner Grade, turning a corner, there was a woodpecker standing in the middle of the lane. I got off the gas but didn't stomp on the breaks figuring it would fly away. It didn't. I rolled over it. I looked in the rear view mirror and it was still standing there. WTH?

And then there was the helicopter...  Well, never mind.