Gordon Trail

General Palm Springs area.

Gordon Trail

Postby cm20 » Wed Nov 10, 2021 10:02 am

If anyone has info on the Gordon trail, every link I have seen is a dead link from years prior. I guess chances are the “trail” hasn’t been used in years at this point, so it would require xc travel and bushwhacking at minimum, but it’s nothing I’m new to.
Thanks, cm20
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Re: Gordon Trail

Postby Florian » Wed Nov 10, 2021 5:44 pm

Hi CM. This is copy of my email reply to your email inquiry earlier today. Figured i may as well repost it here for others ..

I've not hiked Gordon for many years. And i think i only got to around the 5000' level. Never went through to Caramba camp. I do remember the route seemed fairly easy to follow if you are accustomed to old unmaintained desert trails. The main issue that i see is access from the desert side. The Andreas Canyon Club is private and don't like people coming up their road. I was able to hike with a friend that knew one of the property owners and gave us access and let us park at his house at the top of the private road. Wish i had more info for you. I don't have any GPS tracks of the route.
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Re: Gordon Trail

Postby cm20 » Wed Nov 10, 2021 6:00 pm

Hey thanks for the reply. I realized I didn’t know the email associated with this account and I probably wouldn’t get your response so I posted here. No worries on not anymore info, it seems like a challenge statistically, especially more so that it’s been years since someone has used it. After posting this I came across the Gordon Trail Redux, which answered just about every thought I had up to actually having a gpx for it. Maybe some day I’ll venture over there.
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Re: Gordon Trail

Postby guest » Fri Nov 12, 2021 10:00 am

Hi CM20,
I'd 2nd what Florian stated here. I hiked this "trail" over 20 years ago, and it is a great adventure for those fit, experienced and with good terrain / navigation skills.
We also were fortunate to know someone at Andreas Club, allowing access to the top of their community, but you could come in a bit NW of their property, I think.

We attempted to follow what was left of the trail for a few hours, to maybe 3,500 ft. and decided we were spending too much time spotting it, losing it, etc.
So, we just navigated along ridges on a general westerly heading, aiming for the Carumba area. We even found a really old metal corner marker in a rock, designating the Forest Reserve, (I believe), approx. 4k ft. which would make sense. I couldn't tell you are exact route, as we were winging it w/out gps, but you want to mimic Skyline as far as where to hike and not to, (mainly on the ridges).
One of the biggest challenges was the bush-whacking, and getting through the manzanita, Ribbonwood at about 6k can be tough & painful.
Since we had the Mt. Fire? (the one maybe 12 yrs. ago), some of that area did get burned, as the fire descended to about 3k ft., so it might be better now.

The last 1k vertical feet is very steep, as the topo's suggest, (like Skyline area once in the trees), and a good route needs to be chosen to avoid serious exposure.
If you've ever hiked down the stream from Curumba a bit, you know the terrain gets pretty radical, quickly.
Then of course, you still have the last 2k ft. slough from Carumba to the tram, (I've heard that area is very over-grown w chinquapin and other nasties, after the fire that went through there.
I'd advise against the ridge above & south of Andreas Canyon, as there's serious, 6-8 ft. high brush, dead branches & trees etc. although that area was also burned, I believe.
Happy trails, scott
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Re: Gordon Trail

Postby pietro257 » Mon May 15, 2023 7:06 pm

My copy of "The San Jacintos" by John W. Robinson and Bruce D. Risher (published 1993 by Big Santa Anita Historical Society) has this to say about the Gordon Trail (page 201-203):

Two miles south of Tahquitz Creek from Laws Camp, just above the desert escarpment, is a place known as Caramba. This was Moses S. Gordon's camp while he and a friend named McInnis were building the spectacular Gordon Trail down to Palm Springs in 1916 and 1917. Caramba is a Spanish exclamation indicating shock or surprise; Gordon gave his camp that name because, just beyond the forested flat, one is shocked to see the terrain abruptly drop to the desert. Moses Gordon had a home in Palm Springs and a cabin in Idyllwild; it was to connect the two that he built his pines to palms trail.

[There follows a description of hiking down the trail from the July 10, 1917 Riverside Daily Press. The description says how steep the terrain is. It mentions four places on the trail to which Gordon had attached names -- Sentinel Point, the Imp, Dog's Head, and Camp Avispas.]

The Gordon Trail fell into disuse after several years and was abandoned to the elements and the ever-growing bush. It is impassable today. Of all the romantic names Moses Gordon thought up for points along the trail -- Sentinel Point, the Imp, Dog's Head, and Camp Avispa -- only Caramba remains, now a Forest Service trail camp. An effort to reopen the Gordon Trail in the 1960s was thwarted by the Agua Caliente tribal council; Andreas Canyon and lower Palm Canyon, through which the trail passed, are part of the Agua Caliente Reservation.


I have old topo maps that show parts of the Gordon Trail. I grew up in Idylllwild in the 1970s. I remember stories of lost hikers leaving Caramba on the remnants of the Gordon Trail, thinking they could get to Palm Springs that way.
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