Borrego Springs, CA
During our last couple of weeks here in Borrego Springs, we explored the wilds of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park with a combination of Jeep rides and hikes.
One afternoon we drove into the nearby state park campground with Dave and Sue to hike up Palm Canyon. The trail begins at the west end of the Borrego-Palm Canyon campground and goes about a mile and a half up into the canyon. It is the most popular trail in the park and leads to the third-largest palm oasis in California. We have done this hike many times before but wanted to see if we could spot any bighorn sheep along the canyon walls (we saw them there on previous hikes). Alas, the sheep were on vacation that day!
It is really interesting to climb about half way up the canyon and suddenly hear running water. Thick vegetation on the trail indicate that water is nearby.
The stream suddenly appears, complete with a tiny waterfall.
While we didn’t spot any sheep, the hike up and back in the canyon is always fun.
Mine Wash and Village Site
A few days later we drove to the south to explore some canyons along Rte. 78. The first spot, Mine Wash, lies east of County Road S-3 and west of Borrego Springs Road. It is about a mile and a half west of Pinyon Wash and about two miles east of Stag Cove. The wash is marked by a small sign which you can easily miss unless you watch carefully. We turned into the wash and drove south to an area identified on the park map as the village site. Kumeyaay bands living in the nearby Laguna Mountains migrated to the desert areas in and next to Anza-Borrego Desert SP during the winter and stayed until spring. The village site is one of their winter camps. The area of the village has a number of Kumeyaay morteros. Morteros are depressions in stone that developed after years of use by Kumeyaay women for grinding beans, nuts, or seeds.
You could continue south up the wash for a few more miles where there is an abandoned gold mine. We decided to return to the highway and continue east for a visit to the Narrows Earth Trail.
The Narrows Earth Trail
This trail, located just a couple of miles east of Mine Wash, is a guided loop about a mile long. A nature trail guide is available at the trailhead to explain various points along the loop. The information pertains to the geology of Anza-Borrego.
Halfway through the short hike the trail goes through a wash and heads back to the parking area. We hiked up the wash for about a mile before coming to a tall pour-over that blocked our way.
We left the Narrow Earth Trail and drove back through Borrego Springs to county road S22. At mile marker 35.5 we pulled over and parked along the north side of the highway. From there we could see the Truckhaven Rocks, blocks of reddish-brown sandstone made from sedimentary deposits that were tilted to a 45-degree angle by geological forces eons ago. They rise up 100 feet or more from the alluvial plain and are named for the first road east out of the Borrego Valley — the old Truckhaven Trail. The sandstone has been eroded by wind and rain to create a miniature mountain range, complete with canyons, peaks, and ridges.
To get to the rocks we hiked up a sandy wash for a bit over a mile.
As the banks of the wash grew up around us we found a spot where we could climb up to the sandstone rocks.
After climbing up to the top of one of the rocks we enjoyed great views all around us.
Carrizo Badlands and the Mud Caves
For our last adventure we joined Dave and Sue in their Jeep to explore the Carrizo Badlands south of Borrego Springs. To get there we drove 20 miles to Scissors Crossing, where county road S2 intersects with CA-78. From there we drove south on S2 for 34 miles before turning east into Canyon Sin Nombre Wash.
There are a number of slot canyons that go into the rocks along the wash. We stopped to explore one of them.
After a stop for lunch, John and Dave hiked far up another slot. Since they didn’t have a camera, the only photo we have is of them returning.
After a long drive up Arroyo Seco del Diablo we made a turn to the south into an area known as the mud caves. The area is filled with small caves and slot canyons. The park discourages entering the caves as they are very unstable. We obeyed their wishes, but did stop to explore one of the slots. It contained two natural bridges and a number of interesting rock formations.
As we drove back to the highway along the Vallecito Creek trail we passed a strange scene, a pair of crutches sitting below a street sign. A street sign? There has to be a story here, and there is. The old emigrant trail that passed through this wash was marked with metal signs about a mile apart in the late 1800s. Directions painted on the signs gave distances to settlements and water holes. Long ago, someone painted the words “Hollywood and Vine” on the metal plate of one of the sign and the name (but not the original sign) stuck.
After a wonderful month of perfect weather, interesting exploration trips through the desert, and some great golf, it is time to move on. After a two day drive we will soon begin a month long stay in one of our favorite cities, Tucson, AZ.
More on that later . . .