A Unique Tunnel in Southern California to Explore
Tunnel entrance (photo clui.org)
I am always looking for unique places to explore and I recently heard about this half-mile long tunnel. It was dug with hand tools and dynamite by a single person, Burro Schmidt who lived in the ghost town of Garlock below the tunnel. The tunnel and his home still remain. See how to hike it below.
Inside the tunnel (photo DesertUSA)
The tunnel was started around 1900 to move ore from Schmidt’s gold mine to a local smelter. When he was about half way through the tunnel a road made the tunnel useless, but he continued anyway and completed it by breaking through on the other side of the mountain in 1938.
Today this site is easily accessible via dirt roads that ascend up to the top of the El Paso Mountains from the Mojave Desert. From Los Angeles it is just a 2.5 hour drive. While the area is popular with jeep clubs and other desert adventurers, anyone can come up to see this old tunnel.
Hiking the Tunnel
The hike is about a half-mile long to the viewpoint where you emerge at the far end of the tunnel. There are trails that climb up over the mountain and lead back to the trailhead. You’ll want to use these to avoid the dark trip back through the tunnel. The loop hike probably takes a little over an hour. Bring a headlamp and a backup flashlight as you could be in trouble without light mid-way. Also wear good shoes and an extra layer to keep warm in this cool tunnel. It is about 6 feet tall, but easy to wonk your head if you are not careful as it dips in many places. If you are taller than that it might be better to just hike the trails to the south portal. Here is a map of the Burro Schmidt Tunnel.
The southern portal (photo Wikipedia)