Anza Borrego Hiking Trails

anza borrego cholla There are over twenty Anza Borrego hiking trails that are maintained by the State Park. In addition, the desert park is an open space for experienced travelers to explore at their own will. See this map to get an overview of the trails described here.

Anza Borrego Hiking: near Visitor Center
Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail:
3.0 miles round trip; at least 2 hours. Probably the most popular hiking trail in the entire park: Read more....
Panoramic Overlook Trail:
1.0 mile round trip; one hour. An uphill climb starting near campsite #71 of the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. Final destination has a view of the campground and the Borrego Valley. Photo.
Visitor Center / Campground Trail:
1.2 miles; one hour. An easy walking trail to and from the Visitor Center to campsite #71 of the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. Photo.
Visitor Center All-Access Nature Trail:
0.25 miles round trip; 15 minutes. Start at the front door of the Visitor Center and walk on a hard surface.
California Riding and Hiking Trail:
12.0 miles round trip; about 3 hours for one way trip. Start at the north end of Culp Valley campground and follow along the ridge, it goes downhill and exits near the Visitor Center. The return trip (uphill for 2,000 feet) is more difficult and will take longer. Photo.
Hellhole Canyon / Maidenhair Falls Trail:
6.0 miles round trip; 4 hours. Difficult trail up to an oasis with some scrambling on rocks. Final destination, is a 30-foot waterfall with surrounding maidenhair ferns. Photo.
Little Surprise Canyon Trail:
0.6 miles round trip; 45 minutes. Begin at Hellhole Canyon parking lot, trail is to the right of the washroom. Slight uphill. Destination has desert flowers and interesting geology. Photo.
Pena Spring Trail:
0.6 miles round trip; 30 minutes. Begin at Culp Valley campground. Easy walk through chaparral and ends at a water source used by birds and wildlife. Photo.

Anza Borrego Hiking: A Little Further from Visitor Center
Alcoholic Pass:
2.0 miles round trip; 1.5 hours. Somewhat strenuous uphill trail leading to a pass. Final destination has view of Coyote Canyon and surround mountains. Photo.
Calcite Mine:
4.0 miles round trip; 2.5 hours. Trail follows a jeep road which is difficult to drive on but not hard to walk on. Final destination is an old WWII mine area. Good view of the valley and interesting sandstone formations. Photo.
Wilson Trail:
8.8 miles round trip. Moderate hike along Pinyon Ridge at an elevation of 4,000 feet. Final destination has a great panoramic view of the valley. Photo.

Anza Borrego Hiking: near Blair Valley
Ghost Mountain:
2.0 miles round trip; 3 hours. Begins in Blair Valley, short but steep trail. Final destination has the ruins of a home occupied by the Marshal South and his family in 1930's. The home was called "Yaquitepec" which means "House of the Sun" in Yaqui. Photo here
Morteros Trail:
0.4 miles round trip; 30 minutes. Begins in Blair Valley. Very easy trail that goes from parking lot to numerous boulders which have morteros (Indian grinding holes). Photo.
Pictograph Trail / Smuggler's Canyon Trail:
Pictograph Trail: 2.0 miles round trip; 1.5 hours. Begins in Blair Valley. Easy trail that follows a low pass. Final destination has pictographs (painted Indian rock art) on the surface of boulders. Photo.
Smuggler's Canyon Trail: 3.0 miles round trip (2 hours). Continue further for about half a mile. Final destination has a dry waterfall and a 200-foot drop with a breath-taking view of the Vallecito Valley. Photo.

Anza Borrego Hiking: near Fish Creek
Elephant Tree Discovery Trail:
1.0 mile loop; one hour. Easy, sandy, loop trail with a free Trail Guide. Trail has 17 postmarks highlighting desert plants. Trail includes view of 3 rare elephant trees. Photo
Wind Caves Trail
2.0 miles round trip; 1.5 hours. Somewhat steep, but not too hard trail. Final destination has wind-carved sandstone formations and a view of the rippling folds of the Carrizo Badlands. Photo.

Anza Borrego Hiking: near Bow Willows
Palm Groves Loop
Six palm groves are connect by a 5-mile loop trail. Strong hikers can visit all six in one trip. A casual walker can enjoy one or two of the oases in a 15 - 30 minute round trip walk. Read more...
Pygmy Grove / Southwest Grove:
Pygmy Grove: 1.0 mile round trip; 30 minutes. Start at the Mountain Palm Springs campground parking lot, take left trail (head west). An easy hike that leads you to the first of a series of palm groves. Final destination has 50+ short "Pygmy" palm trees. Photo
Southwest Grove:
2.0 miles round trip; 1 hour. Continue along the Pygmy Grove trail for another half mile. Second palm grove can be seen from the parking lot; it is a lush oasis with pools of water. Recently, fires have destroyed much of the "skirts" on the palm trees (charred tree trunks) - though oasis remains vibrant. See map...
North Grove and Mary's Bowl Grove:
0.5 miles round trip; 20 minutes. Start at the Mountain Palm Springs campground parking lot, take right trail (north). Follow the path taking you to the North Grove, here take the RIGHT fork. Final destination has elephant trees and palm trees. See map...
Surprise Canyon and Palm Grove:
2.0 miles round trip; 1 hour. As above, start at the Mountain Palm Springs campground parking lot, take right trail. Follow the path to North Grove, then take the LEFT fork. Pass through a large grove called Surprise Canyon. Continue further to reach Palm Grove, final destination with 100+ palm trees. See map...

Anza Borrego Hiking: near Tamarisk Campground
Cactus Loop Trail:
1.0 mile loop; 45 minutes. Begins across the street from the Tamarisk Grove campground. Trail is uphill and you will see lots of cacti including teddybear cholla, beavertail, barrel fishhook and hedgehog cacti. Good view of the San Felipe Wash and surrounding mountains. Photo.
Yaqui Well Nature Trail
1.6 miles round trip; 1 hour. Begin across the street from the Tamarisk Grove campsite. Easy, flat walk with lots of birds and wildlife. Free Trail Guide brochure available. Final destination of desert water hole, the "Yaqui Well". Trail continues for many more miles of cacti, but most turn back to the trailhead. Photo.
Bill Kenyon Overlook
1.0 mile loop; 45 minutes. Begins at the Yaqui Pass campground. Easy hike. Will see 6 species of cacti; view of San Felipe Wash, Mescal Bajada and Pinyon Mountains.
Narrows Earth Trail
0.5 mile loop; 30 minutes. Begins 4.7 miles east of Tamarisk Grove campground. Free Trail Guide brochure available at trailhead. Short, easy walk with interesting geology. If you go beyond the trail, you can find a dry waterfalls, large boulders, and small canyons carved by rain. Photo.
The Slot Trail / Butte Pass
Slot Trail: 1.5 miles round trip; 1.5 hours. From Hwy 78 east, turn left on Buttes Pass Rd. Park at the T-junction. Scramble down into the canyon, turn left to find the trail. Trail twists and turns and allows you to squeeze through narrow passageways, "slots". Read more... Butte Pass: can be accessed by foot on a trail that goes to the top of the butte; or can be accessed by car on a hard-packed dirt road that takes you to the canyon just below the butte. Read more...

See this map to get an overview of the Anza Borrego hiking trails described above.

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