Thursday, October 14, 2010

Car Wreck Trail

I’ve heard about a wrecked car in those hills at Aliso Woods.  A few runners have told me they once came upon it but haven’t been able to find it since.  The wreck wasn’t on an official trail; I knew that.  I’ve run every inch of trail in that wilderness park.  I should say every inch of “legal” trail.  And I’ve never seen a car wreck.

I figured there was no car wreck, or it got cleared long ago.

Today, I found myths do come to light sometimes. 

I don’t know how I missed it, but sometime in August of this year, Aliso Wood Canyons had their grand opening of Car Wreck Trail.  I must have been thinking about upcoming Bulldog, or moping around after Bulldog.

A couple weeks ago, I ran into the ranger station, excitedly exclaiming “Where is this new trail?”  The ranger pointed it out on the map, surprising me with the fact that it started (or ended) off of Mathis Trail.  Some day soon, I promised myself, I’m running that trail.  One of the guys working with the ranger said, “Up is the better way to run it.  Much easier to do that than run down it, the trail’s that steep.”  I chuckled to myself and thought, “psycho!”

SO, I took off running through Canyon Vistas Park late this morning.  I ran up Cholla, not so sure where I was running except for the fact I was running to the Top of the World.  That’s just me.  Gotta do it, because it’s so difficult.  On the way up Cholla, a mountain biker walking his bike up ahead heard my pounding and turned around to look at me.  He stopped, pulled over, allowing me to pass (I could feel his pain).  As I ran past him, he said “Just put me out of my misery now!”

I laughed and said, “I keep thinking it’s only a half mile, it’s only a half mile,” Cholla that is.  Then I looked back and uttered one more thing:  “The longest half mile there is!.”

West Ridge was empty and foggy.  A delight to run, though I’m not at top notch ability right now.  The run is also more challenging in the fog, because I can’t see Top of the World.  Therefore, I’m never quite sure exactly where I am in the run.  As many times as I’ve run West Ridge, in a good fog, I still can’t make out exactly where I am.  Strange.

How West Ridge Looked this Morning (Nice & Cool & Lonely : )


At Top of the World, I looked at my watch and decided, heck, why not search out Car Wreck Trail today?  I think I’ve got the time.  I had a little over an hour to make it back to the car in time to stretch and pick up my kindergartner from school. 

I took the West Ridge down hill at a good pace, then turned off on Mathis, surprised Car Wreck Trail wasn’t right there.  I’d guess I ran about a quarter mile before finding the marker.  A mountain biker came up behind me.  I let him pass, then posed for a self-portrait before the steep descent.

Posing in Front of the Brand New SignCIMG7157

Car Wreck Trail is lovely.  Mostly a single track, it’s quite technical, lots of rocky terrain.  And yes, it is a bit steep.  But it’s not the steepest trail I’ve ever run down.  I won’t tell the whole story here, because I’ve got pictures below.  But quickly – Car Wreck has twists and turns, plenty of shade, and yes indeed, a car wreck.  At just one point I did stoop down and jump down over the terrain because I felt I might wipe out running it. 

Car Wreck dumps out onto Oak Grove Trail which in turn dumps back out onto Mathis Trail (the flat part).  I ran Mathis to Wood Canyon Trail, which I ran all the way back to the car.  I tripped once, on a flat portion and lurched forward pretty hard.  But I kept my self upright, and didn’t lose a single step.  Thank you planks.  : )

Some of the terrain on Car Wreck


Car Wreck Trail:


The Car Wreck





Toward End of Car Wreck Trail, Heading onward to Oak Grove Trail


One Last Snap of the Camera, Coming Off of Mathis Trail


7.51 miles run today

Elevation Profile

Car Wreck Loop 10-14-2010, Elevation - Distance


  1. What a trip! I'll have to check that trail out one of these days.

    I love love love your elevation map with the Top of the World!

  2. Sounds like a cool trail; I'll have to make it over there (finally) and run it.

  3. Hi Green Girl. Thanks for reading! It was wild. Let me know when you check out the trail.

  4. Rachel -- thanks for reading too! It was such a delight to get a new trail in Aliso/Woods. It's just a "hop, skip and a jump" well maybe a little more from El Moro : )

  5. Good luck on your run this weekend, I'm sorry I left you off my best wishes post.

    I love that you are running for such a good cause. ::hugs::

  6. Looks like an awesome trail and the car thing is just sick!

  7. Thanks Green Girl -- I had a blast at the race.

    Thanks Stuart, it really is an awesome trail, but I had to take it a bit slow else lose some teeth. As for the car thing -- if I wasn't in a hurry to get to my boy's school, I would have checked it out a bit more.

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  9. You looked like you had an amazing trip, Lauren! And I must agree that Car Wreck Trail is really beautiful. The overlook is very breathtaking! But it's definitely dangerous to drive there. The car wreck you found is proof. Plus the fact that it can be difficult to call some help if you slide off.

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