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Cabrillo Inn & Suites San Diego

Anderson Mill Off-Road Adventure

Take Time To Do The Side Trips

 

February 1, 2020 | View PDF

Anderson Mill: A View From The Wash

The ruins at Anderson Mill are sizable and a lot of fun to explore. There are stairs to climb and a great view from the top. We've been there twice, and took a different route each time, so I'm going to tell you about both. I recommend going there via San Domingo Wash, and returning via Little San Domingo Wash because both routes have interesting things to see.

Processes Ores

The mill itself used to process ores like pegmatite, and there are lots of mines around the mill. Pegmatite is igneous rock with interlocking crystals. The crystals can be any number of important or valuable minerals. For instance, pegmatite is the main source of lithium. Our guide book says that the mill was built from WWII surplus scraps and a few old dump truck beds, and it certainly looks that way. It's almost a steam-punk mill.

To Get There

To get there, start out on Castle Hot Springs Road – the west end closest to Highway 60. At 3.3 miles turn right onto Mine Road. The road is unsigned. After less than a quarter mile on Mine Road you'll see a nice staging area on the right. This is where we park and make ready. There is plenty of room for several rigs.

Less than a quarter of a mile after leaving the staging area you'll see a road to the right that enters Little San Domingo Wash. If you want to, you can turn here and head to the Mill. If you choose this way, I highly recommend using the topo maps app as there are lots of roads that feed off the wash. I took a screenshot of my map app to show the way. The coordinates are 33.95797N and 112.56036W.

Nice Views

In the Little San Domingo Wash, stay on the main trail heading north, staying right at 1.3 miles , straight at 1.8 miles, and straight at 2.1 miles. At just over three miles you'll enter a wash, which you'll follow for almost a mile before coming out. It goes back into a wash for a very short distance at 4.3 miles. At about 4.5 miles there is a small trail to the right that goes up a hill to White Cloud Mine. There are nice views from up there if you have time for a short side trip.

After that, stay right and then right again – you'll be entering San Domingo Wash at this point, and the Mill is about five and a half miles down the wash on the left. Both times we have visited, there has been water in the wash by the Mill. Just before you get to it, there are big structures on either side of the wash. I don't know what they are for.

Allow Time To Explore

We usually just park under a tree in the wash and walk up the hill to the Mill. It's a great place to have lunch if you want to – plenty of shade. We've always had the place to ourselves, too. Allow plenty of time to explore here. If you have time after visiting the Mill, keep going down San Domingo Wash northeast. Around a mile or so after leaving Anderson Mill, you will see a faint road going steeply uphill on the right. If you go up this road you'll come to a very nice mine adit. Not much room here to park, but we managed to get three OHVs there.

The map says there are two mines, but for the life of us we could only find the one. Come on back down into the wash and head northeast again. At around a mile and a half from the mill you'll see some stuff on the left. There is a well with water in it, and the graves of some people named Underwood. We usually park under the trees and eat here instead of at the mill.

Old Ruins

If you go up the hill from here – just walk, it's really short – you'll find some old ruins of buildings – just scraps of wood, actually. When John and I did this trip alone the first time, we went in search of Pechan Camp, which I saw on the Topo Maps app just past the graves and well. We had a heck of a time finding the turn-off, but at last we found it.

The "camp" is basically just an old corral at this time, so it was a bit disappointing after all the work we went through to find it. That's as far as we have gone up the wash – with all the exploring and side trips, it really eats up a day.

A Pretty Spot

If you choose to go back via San Domingo Wash, don't turn left and re-enter Little San Domingo Wash on your way back. Stay in the main wash and it will take you back to Mine Road, just farther along than you were. A little over a mile past the turn that you didn't take, watch on the left for a wall.

The adit: Take a steep, rather faint road about a mile from the mill on the right side of the wash.

We stopped here and got out, and a little past the wall in the trees we found a cylindrical structure. I have no idea what it is, but it's a pretty spot and fun to walk around and explore. The San Domingo Wash intersects Mine Road around two and half to three miles north of the staging area. It's a bit rougher in this area, but nothing major.

Worth A Return Trip

This Anderson Mill Ride is a lot of fun, especially if you're adventurous, have a good interactive map app, and you take the time to do the side trips and look for the mines and ruins. We enjoyed it so much the first time that we took four friends with us the next time and they all loved it too. Please be careful when you climb around on the mill, and please leave everything as you find it.

 

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