There are a multitude of reasons to pay a visit to the small town of Julian: delectable dutch apple pies, apple picking, and prime star gazing opportunities just to name a few. Often disregarded are the hiking trails grazing through the outskirts of town. Some will lead you up winding paths to the top of a mountain, others will take you through the woodlands. One will take you to an abandoned gold mine and remnants of over a century-old mining equipment.
The Old Banner Road Trail gives visitors a look into Julian’s rich mining history with the Warlock Mine site. The Warlock Mine is one of a few mines in the nearby area, however it is the only one that can be easily accessed via a trail. Its short length and minimal elevation gain make this the ideal family or group hike outing the next time you’re in town.
After parking at the end of the cul-de-sac, your hike will begin by following the gravel “Private Road” to the east. Although the road is private, it is still permissible to walk along it. At 0.17 miles, the pavement will end and you’ll have the option to continue straight on the private road or turn left onto ground covered in wood chips. Turn left, following the yellow “Banner Toll Road Trail” sign.
Follow the trail down the canyon, as you lose some elevation along the entirety of the trail to Warlock Mine. The views along the way are incredible with sweeping views of Anza-Borrego in the distance and the SR-78 snaking far down below. As you walk you’ll encounter many Coulter pines, black oaks, and manzanitas.
About 0.4-miles into your journey you’ll pass a small, easy-to-miss mine opening to your right. This opening is far too small to crawl into, not to mention dangerous. Hold out just a bit longer as the opportunity to explore a once active mine will soon approach.
Continue to follow the trail. You’ll soon see the remains of an old mill in the distance. Follow the trail, veering to the left at the junction to head downhill to the machine.
On your descent to the old, rusted mill you’ll finally reach the true gem of this hike: Warlock Mine. You’ll need to climb up a small hill to reach Warlock Mine during your descent and it is easy to miss. Please keep in mind it is extremely dangerous to enter any mine, especially this one as it hasn’t been in use for decades. If you decide to risk it, enter at your own risk. You’ll find old rail tracks and mining equipment inside until the mine dead end’s after about 200 feet.
After you’ve had your fair share of exploring, re-trace your steps back uphill to the cul-de-sac. For those wondering, the trail does continue down to a private housing development, so it is not worth it to continue trekking.
Old Banner Toll Road Trail Tips
Tip #1: Bring a flashlight. If you’re interested in exploring the abandoned mine, you’ll need light to navigate. Enter at your own risk.
Tip #2: Bring a friend. We encountered several items of abandoned clothing and a sleeping bag so it appears as though some people have camped out here.
Tip #3: Be mindful of the homes. There are many homes that surround this trail. Stay on the trail and do not disturb the residents nearby.
Tip #4: Do not touch the equipment. There are a number of mining remnants left behind on this trail. Much of it is rusted over and could be sharp/dangerous to touch.
Tip #5: Do not venture onto private property. Again, stick to the trail and do not wander onto areas marked as private property.
Tip #6: Enter at your own risk. If you choose to enter Warlock Mine, enter knowing it is extremely dangerous and entering could even result in death.
From downtown San Diego, take CA-163N to I-8E. Follow I-8E for 35 miles. Take exit 40 for CA-79N/Japatul Valley Road toward Julian. Turn left onto CA-79N/Japatul Valley Road. Turn left to stay on CA-79N and follow the freeway for 12.1 miles. Turn east on SR-78 Banner Road. Turn right onto Whispering Pines Road. Turn right on Gold Dust Lane and then left onto Woodland Road. Park at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Trail Difficulty: Moderate
Total Distance: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 800’
Trailhead Address: Woodland Rd, Julian, CA 92036