Sycamore Canyon Missile Test Facility

  • May 11, 2013 · 10:30 AM
  • This location is shown only to members

In the mid to late 1950s the Sycamore Canyon Test Facility near modern-day Poway was used for top secret testing of the rocket engines of Atlas missiles. At two sites within the facility, prototype rockets were bolted to test frames and the engines fired. These early prototypes later became the Atlas missiles that were used as nuclear ICBMs and space launch vehicles. The two test sites were closed in the late 1960s and now only their ruins remain, heavily overgrown and in severe disrepair.

Technically the trip requires trespassing on the far eastern edge of Miramar base and entry to the sites is at your own risk. Nevertheless, I've done this trip several times before with large groups and never had a problem. Judging by the number of photographs and websites about the facilities on the internet, the MPs don't patrol there very much. Among the hazards at the sites are a profusion of rattlers and other snakes, wild beehives, poison oak, and the usual hazards associated with abandoned buildings. It is also not a good idea to wander into some of the land nearby as it was used for mortar practice in the past and some live ammunition may still be present. There is also a live firing range over the hill and an explosives demolition training area at one of the sites.

Things you will see at the sites include the old rocket pads, laboratories, blast shields, and other buildings and structures of the facility. Some buildings still house remains of electrical and other equipment. In one building a short tunnel runs out from a lab to one of the test pads, although it sometimes has 6 inches of mud on the floor, depending on recent rains.

The total hike from the meeting place to the test facilities and back is about 5 miles along well marked dirt roads and trails, including some big hills. I'm hoping the May gray weather will be in full force when we do the trip so it isn't too hot out there. Bring water and sturdy shoes.

If military police or anyone else needs to contact me about this meetup, my cell number is [masked]

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  • Nathan

    Here's a link to the gps track: http://my.viewranger.com/route/details/MTgzNzI= About 7.25 miles (says 7.68, but that includes driving to pick up stragglers and getting my car).

    3 · May 11, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      I meant to bring my GPS and record our hike so I could upload it to the files section of this group, just as I did for the Lake Hodges Flume trip a few years ago. However I forgot my GPS. Do you think you could upload the gpx file to the files area of the group?

      1 · May 13, 2013

    • Nathan

      done

      1 · May 13, 2013

  • Adam B.

    all uploaded hope u like :)

    3 · May 12, 2013

  • Adam B.

    great but dang 10mb photo cap lol.

    May 12, 2013

  • GloriaN

    Great fun group and very interesting hike!

    May 11, 2013

  • Nathan

    Left my water in the car so I was dragging a bit, but still a great adventure. Thanks Dave for the great excursion, and the beer afterwards.

    1 · May 11, 2013

  • Kate S

    Awesome place, fun people! Thanks Dave and everyone.

    1 · May 11, 2013

  • Mary G

    10 plus a great group of people. Loved it. :)

    May 11, 2013

  • Brian

    I remember hearing the engines roar when I was a kid growing up on a farm east of El Cajon. I don't know how it could have been a secret; everyone knew they were testing rockets. Would love to go on this one, but I wouldn't be able to make it on time.

    May 11, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My appointment ends at 11...disappointed that i cant make it to this event. Please post this event again soon. Thanks!

    May 10, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I hope I can make it on time as I have a three hours appt. that morning but live close by.

    May 6, 2013

  • Nathan

    May be stuck up in LA that day, so now Im a maybe.

    May 6, 2013

  • Adam B.

    Can't wait :)

    May 3, 2013

  • Nathan

    Glad u changed the date. Been there once before. Coolest part was finding the rosy boa.

    May 2, 2013

  • Pamela W.

    I'll be there...

    1 · May 2, 2013

  • Eric

    This is an awesome place for photography. My favorite sport is in a underground passageway under building 4, where light pours out from an overhead vent onto a single chair. This spot will not recieve sunlight after 1pm. http://icons-ak.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/t/thunderweather/2996.jpg

    May 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'd love to do this, but can't on the 11th. Too bad.

    May 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Moved it forward to May 11th. Indecisive...

    May 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Decided to change the date, forgot May 25 is Memorial Day Weekend

    May 2, 2013

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