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Old 12-22-2009, 10:27 PM   #1
RandyM OP
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Calico Mountains, California

Here is a short ride report of a very interesting area that seems to have been somewhat overlooked by the ADV rider community. The ride was to the Calico Mountains near Barstow, California. The Calico Mountains got their name from colorful mineral deposits, which are quite abundant there. Silver was discovered there in the 1880s. The town of Calico was founded in 1881 and grew to a population of 1200. In the early 1900s the price of silver dropped and the mines and town were abandoned. Walter Knott, founder of Knotts Berry Farm, bought Calico Ghost town and restored some of the buildings. Later he donated the Ghost town to San Bernardino County and it became a county park. Today Calico ghost town lives on as a local tourist attraction with a museum, tours, train ride, and gunfight acts. North and East of Calico, there are a number of jeep trails for exploring the area.

While inspecting my DR350 before leaving, I found that I needed a new chain, so I chose to take my older bike, a Yamaha TTR-225. Although it is street registered, my TTR has a top speed of about 45mph in 6th gear with the engine turning at about 7000 rpm, so I had to give it a ride in my truck. Calico is about 130 miles from my home, and I got there after a couple hours.

First on my list was to check out Odessa Canyon. I have a book titled "Guide to Southern California Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails." It describes Odessa Canyon as very difficult (for jeeps). I got about a half mile in before I got stopped by a rock ledge. I could not get up it on the TTR. I turned around at that point.

I had my helmet cam on, so here's the video going into the Canyon.



A few Photos inside Odessa Canyon.






After leaving Odessa Canyon, I headed over to Mule Canyon which is described as being easy. I took the pavement part way and then a dirt trail with small whoops. The whoops drove me nuts, I had to slow down because my suspension was bottoming out. The springs on that bike are just too soft for my weight. Anyways I took a offshoot from Mule Canyon called Philip's loop in my book. Again I was stopped by a small ledge.


I went back down to the easy stuff in mule Canyon and rode through to the opposite side of the Calicos and turned onto a road called Tin Can Alley. I rode tin can alley aways and then took some offshoot trails that led to a place that overlooked Odessa Canyon. There were mine shafts all over out there, all dug by hand in the 1880s.



Another view from the vantage point.


Eventually I made it over to the Bismark Mine, one of the largest Silver mines in the area. Some video of the ride over to the Bismark.



I was looking for a place called Wall Street Canyon Overlook. It was getting late, by then, so I decided to turn back. I did not want to have to navigate back in the dark. I looked for a route through to Fort Irwin Road for a bit, but decided that I was better off heading back down Mule Canyon.

Some Video heading back down toward Tin Can Alley.



Finally made it back to Mule Canyon Road so I knew I could get back to my truck before it got too dark. When I got into Mule Canyon, the sunset and partial cloud cover created a wonderful soft warm light that illuminated the colored mineral deposits in the hills. I was wishing that I had brought the good camera with me. Here is the video.



Some pics in Mule Canyon







A landscape photographer could not wish for better light than this.






Now I'm at the end of the dirt road. I got on the pavement and rode a mile or so back to the truck.


It was getting dark as I loaded up the bike and headed home into the sunset.


This is a great place to explore and worth another trip. To me, it has a lot of the features that death valley is famous for, history, interesting geology, great riding, but it is less than half the distance from my home.





Some additional comments to anyone who may be thinking of going out there. The mines are considered dangerous and some have vertical shafts. Also there are a lot of drop-offs and mine shafts, some only a few feet off the road! For safety, do not leave the trails in the mine areas. The area is "limited use" by BLM meaning that Motorcycles and OHVs must stay on established trails.

I have embedded some helmet cam video taken on top of Bismark Mine below. Note there are two big holes where the mine collapsed to the left side. They are not easy to see until you are right on top of them. Stop the video at 3 sec and 23 seconds. Be careful out there.

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Old 12-22-2009, 10:41 PM   #2
T O Double D
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Cool man, I'll have to check that area out. Thanks for posting!

Cheers!
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:41 AM   #3
JeffS77
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no dont leak the secret of the Calico Mountains...j/k... i love riding there and last time i went we rode for two days and only saw two other bikes
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Old 12-23-2009, 05:58 AM   #4
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Ya, this is a great area to ride. There is a camp ground near by or if you are lucky
like me and have a brother who lives just across the highway, and owns a KTM 530, you can sponge off him. I will be back in April.
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Old 12-23-2009, 06:05 AM   #5
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Beautiful riding area... pretty rugged adventure! thanks for the report, pics and videos
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Old 12-23-2009, 08:40 AM   #6
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Couple questions on your 225...

1) What is the mod required for running the brake lever above the swingarm?

2) What is the vendor for the rear rack? (nice!)
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:52 AM   #7
NSFW
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awesome...you did a fine job randy doing this ride alone...
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:05 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TwilightZone

1) What is the mod required for running the brake lever above the swingarm?
Aren't they stock that way?
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:09 AM   #9
groop
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Calico is a great place to explore, especially if you know someone who knows their way around the area. One of the dad's in my son's scout troop is a SBC Sheriff's deputy who knows every mine shaft in those hills. He showed us mines unexplored for decades. Lots of great riding and Jeeping in those hills as well. I think you've inspired me to take a day trip over the holiday.
Nice report

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Old 12-23-2009, 10:23 AM   #10
Usually2Up
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Great report, nicely done with the video.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:44 AM   #11
RandyM OP
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Thanks for all the great comments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by TwilightZone
Couple questions on your 225...

1) What is the mod required for running the brake lever above the swingarm?

2) What is the vendor for the rear rack? (nice!)

1) Brake lever setup is stock. This bike is a 2000 model year.

2) Rack is from http://www.cycleracks.com/ The rack is well made and very strong. It also protects the turn signals and provides a good handhold.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:59 AM   #12
dirty adventurer
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Nice RR and pictures.

I was in Calico last January exploring solo following the mule trail in the same book. I met up with a group on Rinos, who asked if I would like to tag along on a little canyon ride. I thought, I can keep up with rinos. Well, I followed them down Odessa with a few close calls , but I survived. Each guy in a rino had a support person hold down the rear end of the rino to keep them from flipping.


I can see why you turned around trying to go up the canyon.
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Old 12-23-2009, 01:41 PM   #13
obsidian
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Wow that was awesome. Thanks for posting!
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Old 12-23-2009, 07:38 PM   #14
riceless950
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I must go there...soon.
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:55 PM   #15
rhinoeater
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Set It Up !!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by h8chains
awesome...you did a fine job randy doing this ride alone...

JOEL,

SET THIS TRIP UP FOR THE LA WEEKEND RIDERS!!!

BILL
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