Description: As 78 approaches Julian it climbs and turns through exceptionally scenic mountain country. At the base of Banner Grade is the California Riding and Hiking Trail – a 1,000 mile trail that begins at Otay Lake and extends up to Chillihua Valley. Originally intended to be a 3,000 mile trial loop from the northern to southern borders of California, remnants of this system are still usable and provide breath-taking views for those interested in strapping on their hiking boots or bike shoes.
Access: East out of Julian on 78 toward Borrego Springs.
You will find this stretch of road enjoyable regardless of the direction – depending on how much you love your brakes. The bulk of the grade (~4 miles) includes many steep twisty sections, drive at your comfort level. Albeit short, the trail head for the California Riding and Hiking Trail at the base provides a great area to turn around and head back up the grade, at which point you can take Wynola Road back to the center of Julian.
A short length of well surfaced twisty road.
Main route out of Julian to desert can be very busy and is a very common site for accidents – be careful! If headed up, watch out for downhill traffic who generally take up more road than they should.
In additional to adding an extra element of driving enjoyment, the elevation provides for a wonderfully expansive view of the Banner Canyon and surrounding Anza-Borrego Desert area. Dramatic views of the distant Granite Mountain and Earthquake valley make this windy portion of 78 worth the detour.
Length: 6.6 miles