Directions to the Trailhead: Take 14 South to Little Dixie Wash. Turn right on BLM SC65. For a landmark look for Call box 14-493. Follow SC65 westward into Horse Canyon. On the left look for the stone reservoir and cattle trough, this marks Horse Canyon Well. Stay right on SC65. Soon you will enter the Sequoia National Forest. You will notice sections of asphalt indicating that this road was once paved. The road becomes a shelf road and climbs up Horse Canyon toward the crest of the mountains. Look behind you for a beautiful vista of Horse Canyon and the Indian Wells Valley below. In a saddle before the summit begins the Scodie Hiking Trail (FS 36E04) which leads to the Yellow Jacket Spring on through Cholla Canyon, ending at Kelso Valley Road. Continue on the road to the summit, here you will find a microwave tower and the sign marking the McIver 4×4 road.
McIver 4×4 road: The Gear Grinders officially adopted the McIver 4X4 road on 3/21/2002. The road is 4.5 miles long winding through the Scodie Mountains with Pinyon Pine and lichen painted boulders ending at McIver’s cabin and spring. The Forest Service rates this 4X4 road as “easy”. The Scodie Mountains are named in honor of William Scodie, the proprietor of the first store in Onyx. In the book “Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side”, by J.C. Jenkins and Ruby Johnson Jenkins, this forest is enchantingly described as the “Ichabod Crane Forest”. The road is a cherry stem into the Kiavah Wilderness. Thus it is important to stay on the road. When you need to pull off you need to stay within 15 feet from the center on the road. The road briefly joins with the Pacific Crest Trail. The PCT is 2,650 miles long starting at the US/Mexican Border and ending at the US/Canadian Border weaving through California, Oregon and Washington. No vehicles are allowed on the PCT. Please stay on the designated road.
As you drive along you will enter a burned area. This was the “Jacks Fire”. Located in the Sequoia National Forest’s Kiavah Wilderness, the fire had started near Jacks Creek in early August 1997. This was a lightning caused fire from thunderstorms developing from monsoonal moisture. It burned a total of 5693 acres at a cost of $2.7 million.
At road’s end you will reach McIver’s Cabin near McIver’s Spring. Snuggled among the picturesque boulders this small cabin is the perfect rustic retreat with a porch and an out house. The cabin was an LADWP line shack that was used when they were building the aqueduct. It was then bought by Murdo George McIver in 1938 and moved from the Sand Canyon Base Camp to its present location. There is an old road extension that crosses the spring behind the cabin that is now in a wilderness area. If you hike to the roads end (about a half a mile) you will be rewarded with an impressive 360 degree view of Indian Wells Valley, Boulder Canyon and the Scodie Mountains. There is another old road, also closed by wilderness, about an eighth of a mile south of the cabin heading west into the wilderness that leads up to McIver’s mine. McIver had originally accessed his mine via a footpath. The extention behind the cabin and the road to the mine were not built by McIver but were created later.
Special thanks to: USFS Ranger Bob Frenes for his assistance with our Adopt-a-Trail and for the historical background of the McIver 4×4 road. Pictures provided by Gear Grinders Pamela Fellows and Lisa Couch. MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) information provided by Gear Grinders Corresponding Secretary, Mary Grimsley. And finally thanks to all the Gear Grinders that have volunteered countless hours in the past to maintain the McIver 4×4 road. The Gear Grinders 4WD Club maintains this road with pride ensuring access for ALL to enjoy this unique and interesting backcountry area.
- Sequoia National Forest Official Website. Information concerning OHV registration requirements, safety messages and route information can be found on their site. The National Forests in California are in the process of route inventory and designation of all the roads, trails, and areas used by OHVs. Information on the National Forest’s Route Designation Strategy can be found on their site. Map on this page is an excerpt from the Sequoia National Forest Visitor Map. (Please note the Cannell Meadow Ranger District and the Greenhorn Ranger District has been combined to form the Kern River Valley Ranger District.) Official maps of the Sequoia National Forest including OHV maps can be requested at their website on their Maps and Brochures page.
- “Exploring the Southern Sierra: East Side” by J.C. Jenkins and Ruby Johnson Jenkins. This wonderfully detailed guide book explores the Scodie Mountains including the mountains east of the North Fork of the Kern River between the High Sierra to the north and the Tehachapi Mountains to the south. This book along with other books on our local area can be found at The Maturango Museum.
- “Southern California SUV Trails: Vol. I The Western Mojave Desert” a guide book by Roger and Loris Mitchell describes Horse Canyon, a brief mention of The McIver 4×4 road and other adventures leading out of Ridgecrest. Information on Mitchell’s books can be found at Track & Trail Publications website.
- USGS 7.5′ Map “Horse Canyon” covers the McIver 4×4 road area.
- Stewards of the Sequoia promotes responsible recreation and environmental stewardship. They are a division of California Trail Users Coalition, a registered non-profit corporation (501C.3).