North American Rails - Railfan Guides
34 photos included after text.
The "Bowl" area continues into the Summit area. From here trains finish thier climb up Cajon Pass and crest the Summit. The Union Pacific calls the summit of their track "Hiland". In this section, I will refer to the locations of "East Silverwood", the "Knoll", the Big Fill, the Big Cut, and finally Hiland or Summit.
Route 138 continues up the mountain to Summit and beyond to Summit Valley Road and beyond. Other roads will be mentioned such as "Road 3", "Road 4", "Summit Road", and the secrvice roads that parallel the tracks.
This is the area uphill from "Road 3". It includes all the area for all the BNSF tracks as they continue uphill between "Road 3" and the "Knoll", or the Union Pacific tracks near the Silverwood crossover. LOTS of photos are possible around this area on the many hills nearby. It is impossible to mention all of them so just use your imagination and talent to find a location that you prefer. It is reall y hard to go wrong when you use your proper sun angles correctly. Have fun, but always be safe.
As I previously explained in the "Bowl" page, Route 138 will continue past "Road 3" and after .5 miles you will see "Road 4" to the north of the road. Route 138 finishes its climb another .7 miles to reach Big Cut where you can park safely and get some great photos from on top of a large cut with the tracks curving toward Summit under you.
Route 138 will now start its desent down the east slope of Cajon Pass and after a short .4 miles you will see the "Summit Road" and then 1.3 miles later, the Summit Valley Road. Turning left on this road will take you past some more photo locations, and eventually to Hesperia, CA.
From the time it stopped being a four-lane road, to "Road 3", Route 138 became alot more dangerous with some hills and sharp curves. Between "Road 3" and Big Cut, it becomes even more so. The hills are steeper, and the curves much sharper. Be VERY careful as you drive through this portion of Route 138. Be alert for the other local drivers that know this road well, and sometimes take this road way to fast, and others that might have large RV's and/or trailers. Go slow in here and watch the turns.
Again, "Road 3" turns north from Route 138 almost under some high tension wires and towers, and travels .6 miles to the tracks. There is a grade crossing for BNSF main 3, followed by an underpass for BNSF mains 1 and 2 and finally another grade crossing for the Union Pacific Palmdale Cutoff. After that, it continues to places not related to trains.
"Road 4" is .5 miles up hill from "Road 3" and is hard to see. Do not dispair. I do not recomend this road at all unless you like life extreme. It is a road that service workers use to get to a couple of the high tension towers. It has very sharp curves, steep hills, and several high drops right next to the road with no guardrails. This road is dangerous for the average driver. It does however travel from Route 138 .4 miles to the tracks just passt the Big Fill, and before the Big Cut.
As Route 138 begins its journey down the eastern slope, "Summit Road" is the dirt road .4 miles from Big Cut that takes you to the Summit of the BNSF tracks in Cajon Pass. It will continue past the grade crossing for the BNSF tracks, and up a hill to the Union Pacific track and its summit they call Hiland. After that it continues to places not related to trains.
DO NOT TRAVEL, OR WALK ON THIS ROAD!!! You will immediately alert the security people that have their offices next to the tracks. You will not be asked to leave, you will directed to leave immediately. The security fences, lights, and large heavy gates should be your first clue not to even think about getting a photo from this former prized location. You can get photos of trains in summit from other places like Big Cut.
SUMMIT VALLEY ROAD
I'll explain this road in more detail on the Hesperia and Victorville area site page so I don't need to go into it here. Just know that it turns north away from Route 138 1.7 miles from the Big Cut area.
I do need to mention that after 1.2 miles Summit Valley Road will reach a dirt road that goes toward the BNSF tracks at the old Martinez Siding. You will see the same fences, lights and large gates since this is the east side of the security area at Summit. Take the clue. Do not go into here either.
"U.P. ACCESS ROAD"
The "U.P. Access Road is still north of the track and as I said, will continue all the way to Hiland. Along the way it will pass several great places to stop and get photos between the East Silerwood area and the curve before Hiland. I would like to single out a couple of nice locations though.
Just .1 mile from "Road 3" you will see a dirt road that goes up the hill to a high tension tower. Go up this road and park near the tower. You can then walk on the couple of dirt paths to some nice locations for overhead photos of trains in "Silverwood" as they climb Cajon Pass. This area is best in the early morning in summer.
Back on "U.P. Access Road, the turnout for the Silverwood Crossover is another .1 mile and then .5 miles later is a grade crossing for a connecting road that goes down to "BNSF Main #1 Road" at Summit. After the grade crossing .2 miles will be another connecting road to the "BNSF Main #1 Road" that is safe to travel on since it goes between the Big Fill and Big Cut. (Do not go any closer to Summit on this road than the other connecting road.) Turn onto this connecting road and go about halfway to the end. Photos here are really nice of uphill trains on the BNSF tracks in the early mornings in winter.
"BNSF MAIN #1 ROAD"
This road mentioned in the "Bowl" site page , continues from "Road 3" up the pass along side BNSF main 1. After .3 miles, it will climb a steep hill to the Silverwood Crossover track at a grade crossing. Great photos of uphill trains on BNSF mains 1 or 2 are possible here. They will be working hard to finish their climb up the pass and will be crossing the short bridge over "Road 3" and in between a couple of nice cuts in the hills. These photos are best in the early morning in summer or winter. The U.P. track is not avery good photo since you are on the wrong side of the sun except if you are here in the afternoon.
Continue on this road another .1 mile to an open dirt area you can park in away from the tracks and next to the bottom of a hill. Then you can walk down a path, and then up another path to the top of the hill you parked next to. You are on the east side of the tracks and good photos are possible from here of trains on mains 1, 2 or 3 as they also climb up the pass through "Silverwood". Those photos are best in the early morning in winter or summer.
In the early morning in summer only though, you can also get good photos of trains as they round the curve exiting Big Cut and go over the Big Fill. This is a great place to catch Amtrak when the westbound #3 Southwest Chief is running late. Remember this only works in the early morning in summer and if Amtrak is at least 1 hour late into Victorville.
Remember, you can call Amtrak at 1 800 872-7245 and talk to "Julie" the automated answering machine for up-to-the-minute updates on scheduals.
You will also notice that the "Knoll" is directly in front of you, and on the other side of mains 1 and 2 but before main 3. More on that in the "Knoll" section.
You can continue on toward Big Cut but do not go past the next dirt connecting road I just mentioned earlier. It is .3 miles away, and like I said, you can go up about 1/2 way to a good photo location.
"BNSF ACCESS ROAD #3 NORTH"
This road continues uphill from "Road 3" and also travels through "East Silverwood" on its way to the "Knoll". Along the way it to will have several good photo locations from the various hills around "East Silverwood". Photos are good almost all day. Just work your sun angles for the best sun for the train you want to shoot. After .4 miles it will terminate at the "Knoll".
The "Knoll" is a small dirt hill that is right in between the BNSF mains 1 and 2 and main 3 .4 miles from "Road 3" on the "BNSF Access Road #3 North. This is the location where the south track or main 3 rejoins the other two mains as they continue their climb up Cajon Pass. The visual difference in the two grades of the main tracks is quite apparent and obvious. It is easy to park on the "Knoll" and enjoy trains all day long, however, better photo angles are close by around "East Silverwood".
This is mainly a great place to park and watch. I've seen people park throughout an entire weekend up on the "Knoll" and even park a 24 foot camper up there. Two regular vehicles will fit but thats about all.
"BNSF ACCESS ROAD #3 SOUTH"
This road continues the tradition of the previous roads going uphill from "Road 3". There are also several places in "East Silverwood" that you can get a photo of trains up or downhill depending on the time of day. Still work your sun angles for the best photo.
This road will travel to the "Knoll" after .4 miles, and from there you should see a hill on the right that you can easily climb. This hill is directly across main 3 from the "Knoll" and will offer some great photos. Downhill trains are fantastic as they begin the desent down Cajon Pass, while crossing over the Big Fill. You can even get a photo of a downhill U.P. train as it curves out of Hiland. These photos are best in the late afternoon in summer. Uphill trains are also not bad in the late afternoon in winter.
BIG FILL AND BIG CUT
Big Fill is the place where the three mains of the BNSF travel over a large dirt fill between the "Knoll" and "Road 4".
Big Cut is the place where the three mains of the BNSF curve and approach Summit through a very deep cut in the mountainside. Route 138 is at the top of the cut and provides spectacular photos and views of the Cajon Pass west slope all the way from Hill 582.
Photos from up here are great all day with the photos of uphill trains best in the early morning of winter, and the downhill trains best in the late afternoon in winter. Summer photos are also great, but mainly in the mid afternoons or late mornings. This is also the best place to get any photos of the actual Summit. More on that in the Summit section of this site page.
From "Road 3", you can continue toward Big Cut over the Big Fill on "BNSF Access Road #3 South", and after .3 miles you will see "Road 4" arrive from Route 138. After another .1 mile and another .1 mile you will find two large dirt open areas you can park in that is safely away from the tracks. At all of these places, there are various paths that you can walk on to get to several great photo locations on the top of the hills nearby.
Many different photo angles are possible around here. Downhill trains are mainly good in the mid to late afternoons in summer or winter, and the uphill trains are best in the mid to late afternoon in summer or winter also.
SUMMIT AND HILAND
Summit for the BNSF and Hiland for the Union Pacific are strictly off limits to anybody not official. The "Summit Road" used to go to the tracks from Route 138 just down the hill from Big Cut but you can't use it anymore. Do Not even think about traveling down that road anymore. Yes the photo of a train cresting Cajon Pass was fantastic, but find another place from now on.
Good photos of the Summit area can be safely shot from Route 138 on the east side of Big Cut. just walk to the east side and downthe hill slightly for a good angle of downhill trains as they leave Summit and begin their journey down Cajon Pass. Photos are best in the mid afternoon in summer or the late afternoon in winter.
After the derailment in 1996 that claimed the lives of those two railroad employees, and closed interstate 15 for three days because of the resulting fire, the accident investigation determined that the train lost its brakes because someone somehow tampered with the brake system as the train was waiting for a red signal at the Summit of Cajon Pass.
Just three months after that derailment, up went the fences, lights, cameras and large locked gates along with some offices that are always occupied with extra security personel. The areas of Summit and Hiland are now concidered high security risks and therefore noone is allowed to photograph up there at all. Period.
So, DO NOT approach the tracks on the BNSF anywhere between Summit to the west, and the former Martinez Siding to the east. You will be told to leave and they mean Cajon, not the area. Do not argue, it will not work. All the other areas around Cajon are pretty much ok, just not here.
Because you have to pass the locked gates and the security offices on your way up to Hiland, it also should be concidered off limits. Yes, you could get to Hiland on the "U.P. Access Road", but if you are seen there, you will be concidered a security risk and treated the same way as on BNSF property. Just forget the old photos from up there also. Oh by the way, don't even try the "I'm not on BNSF property so you can't tell me what to do" speech. If you do you are just plain stupid and you will ruin it for the rest of us. Just Don't. Please.
North American Rails - Railfan Guides