Thru the mountains it’d be nice to take old Route 66 for part of the way (thru the Cajon Pass). It’s slow, the views are good, it was the path of the old covered wagons, and Mormon Rocks and the San Andreas Fault are up there. Also, it’s the east-most end of the road that runs thru the forest at the top of the mountains & Al and I have been talking about camping in the forest up in Big Bear.
Settlers coming into the area began using the Cajon beginning around 1830. The first two long-distance roads or trails that passed through the pass were the Old Spanish Trail and the Mormon Road. The Old Spanish Trail, which originated in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was established first. The Mormon Road, established in the 1840s, originated in Salt Lake City. Both roads used near-identical alignments through the Cajon.
Lytle Creek Ranger #909-382-2851 / Mormon Rock Station #760-249-3177
About 2.5 miles from the off-ramp, Route 66 makes a large turn to the right (west) following Cajon Wash. The wide area you’ll see on the right side of the road is the old Blue Cut rest area that was built when the divided highway was built.
In the 1930s, this was also the spot where authorities stopped refugees from the Dustbowl regions of the mid-west that were looking for a better life in California. Refugees were kept here for a few days to a few weeks while authorities did background checks on the refugees.
Blue Cut got its name from the bluish tint on the rugged hillside across from the Blue Cut rest area. This is the spot where the mighty San Andreas Fault slices through the Cajon. It was the San Andreas that actually created the Cajon Pass in the first place. Standing at Blue Cut, if you look northwest across Cajon Wash and the railroad tracks, you’ll notice a long and straight narrow valley. This is the path of the fault, with the actual “crack” located halfway in the middle of the valley. A small lake, named Lost Lake, which was created by the fault, is located roughly a mile up the valley from Blue Cut.
When you pass by here, you may see several parked cars here or people walking around. This area is popular with train buffs for watching the trains go by. It is also a popular with a certain group of people that like to meet each other. Be careful if you are approached by anybody in this area if you get out of your vehicle.
Just beyond Blue Cut you’ll see a classic stone wall along the road. This wall was built in the 1930s. After that, the road snakes through the narrowest part of the Cajon Pass.
Mouth of Cajon Pass & Devore
Past the stone wall, Route 66 passes through the narrowest part of the Cajon. It then makes a sweeping left turn to the southeast that ends with a long straightaway. Here you can enjoy seeing long stretches of the old divided highway.
At 6.3 miles, this portion of Highway 66 ends and you have to turn left to return to I-15 on Kenwood Avenue. Just before turning left on Kenwood however, if you look straight (in the continued direction of old 66), you will see how much the old divided highway eroded away since it has no longer been used when I-15 was completed in 1968. However, as of 2014, this section of Route 66 is being modified along with the I-15 and I-215 freeway intersection and will result in a historic reconnection of Route 66.
To continue your journey on 66, enter I-15 southbound at Kenwood Ave. Immediately, transition into the left lanes and continue straight on I-215 towards San Bernardino. Then, take the next exit, which is signed Devore (see our virtual tour for an animated map). When you get to the end of the off-ramp, turn right. Be aware that if you are reading this after 2015, the freeway intersection has been rebuilt.
Now, you’re back on old 66. The distance from the off-ramp to the end of the road is just a few hundred feet. The old road was chopped off by the more modern freeways. On the left, you’ll see a couple of diners that used to exist on the old road. Beyond the end of the road, you can see the old pavement of the divided highway that met up with the portion you saw when you turned left on Kenwood Avenue.
Behind the diners is an older alignment of Route 66 before the divided highway was constructed in the 1950s. You can drive on this old alignment by going back towards the off-ramp and then make a hard right turn just after the fire station. Here, you will find a small service road to some towers. This was the pre-1950s alignment of 66. See the virtual tour for aerial images of this area showing where the old alignments are located.
Continue your journey by driving past the four-way stop southeast on Route 66, which is now named Cajon Blvd. The original 1950 version of Route 66 along this section was an undivided four-lane highway. By around 1960, modern-day I-215 was built and Route 66 traffic used this instead. After 1.2 miles, the four lanes are reduced to two lanes and the old road passes underneath the railroad tracks.
It was underneath this bridge where, in November 1954, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. seriously crashed his car on a return trip from Las Vegas. He almost lost his life and it resulted in the loss of one of his eyes.
At this point, Route 66 is out of the Cajon Pass and now in the San Bernardino Valley. The road continues southeast for another 8.5 miles to downtown San Bernardino. Here, Route 66 turns right and heads due west on first, 5th Street, and then Foothill Blvd. It stays on Foothill Blvd as it enters the Los Angeles area and then switches to other roads near Pasadena. It continues switching to other roads through the heart of Los Angeles until its end in Santa Monica.