Hundreds of miles of trails exist in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the surrounding regions. There are numerous walking, hiking, biking, back-packing, climbing, horseback riding & off-road (4W-Drive) trails throughout this vast park. There is even a Sky Trail. The Pacific Crest Trail passes in and out of the park several times, providing 50 miles of adventuresome hiking.

The California Riding and Hiking Trail (25 miles) passes through the park and is accessible from a few locations. Many shorter trails for a one-day or shorter exploration are available. Below is list of the more popular hikes you can pick up information sheets at either the Visitor Center, the Tamarisk Campground or Bow Valley center.

Click here for detailed plant trail guides in the park.  

For detailed information on Hiking Trails in the park visit: Anza Borrego Hiking Trails

Self-Guided Trails -  If you can't join a naturalist, try one of the self-guided hikes.  Pick up a brochure at the Visitor Center or look for one at the trailhead.

  • All-Access Trail - This .75-mile trail near the Visitor Center has been improved and now connects the Visitor Center to the Borrego Palms Campground. Interpretive panels focus on area plants and animals and include Braille text keyed to alternate senses.

  • Yaqui Well Nature Trail - Begin across the road from Tamarisk Grove Campground to enjoy this one-and-one-half mile, one-way nature trail. Return on Yaqui Well Wash for a round-trip hike.

  • Borrego Palm Canyon Trail - Often crowded, this popular trail leads to a cool, shady, palm oasis. Self-guided trail brochure describes plants and geology. This rocky trail is three miles round-trip and takes a minimum of two hours. Begins at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground.  more from

  • Cactus Loop Nature Trail - Start your walk across the street and to the east of Tamarisk Grove entrance. This one-mile loop has a short, but strenuous, climb and an uneven surface. Great views and a variety of cactus species await you.

  • Narrows Earth Nature Trail - This easy, gentle one-third mile walk is short, but sweet. In 30 minutes you can fully explore the many geological processes talking place in this small canyon. Begins on Hwy. 78, 4.7 miles east of Tamarisk Grove.

  • Elephant Trees Discovery Trail: Gentle, 1.5-mile sandy loop (1 hour) has a brochure available at the trailhead. Includes a visit to three (now only one) of the rare Elephant Trees, as well as a self-guided tour with 17 signposts highlighting desert plants of the alluvial fan. Begins 5.9 miles south of Hwy. 78 off Split Mountain Road. Get there by driving south on Split Mountain Road from Ocotillo Wells on Route 78. Fish Creek Region.  more from

Additional Trails

Visitor Center & Campground Area

  • Visitor Center All-Access Trail .25 miles round trip
    This trail takes 15 minutes or so and has a hard surface. Begin at the front doors of the Visitor Center.

  • Visitor Center / Campground Trail 1.2 miles round trip
    Begins at Visitor Center or Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. Easy trail between the two locations, typical creosote scrub environment.

  • Panoramic Overlook Trail: Easy to moderate, 1.5 miles (1 hour) round trip from trailhead. The Panoramic Overlook Trail offers the Borrego Springs visitor a great view of Borrego Valley and good exercise. Begins at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground, near site #71. Steep uphill trail ending with a view of campground and Borrego Valley.

  • Hellhole Canyon / Maidenhair Falls Trail 6 miles round trip
    Begins at Hellhole Canyon parking area. Mostly difficult hike up into a canyon oasis. Some rock scrambling required.

  • California Riding and Hiking Trail 12 miles round trip
    Begins at Culp Valley Campground (north end). Following the ridge, this trail drops more than 2,000 feet in elevation. Taken one-way (downhill) it is a moderate hike, round-trip is more difficult. One-way trip ends at the Hellhole parking area.
    Located in the Anza Region.

  • Pena Spring Trail .6 miles round trip
    Begins at Culp Valley Campground. Easy walk to an artesian water source which is piped into a shallow tank used by birds and wildlife.

  • Lookout Point Trail .6 miles round trip
    Begins at Culp Valley Campground (north end). Easy uphill walk leads to scenic views of Hellhole Canyon and desert.

Coyote Canyon & Badlands    

The Borrego Badlands Through Time (PowerPoint)

Mystery of the Badlands… (PowerPoint)

  • Alcoholic Pass 2.0 miles round trip
    Begins at Coyote Canyon road, 2.8 miles from the end of the pavement. Used by Indians and cowboys alike, this moderately strenuous trail will lead to the top of the pass with view of Coyote Canyon and the surrounding mountains.

  • Truckhaven Rocks 1.5 miles round trip
    Park on Hwy. S-22 at mile 35.5. An easy hike up the wash that that heads slightly east of the Truckhaven Rocks. Climb out of the wash to reach the rocks.

  • Calcite Mine 4.0 miles round trip
    Park on Hwy. S-22 at mile 38.0 (turnout). Walk east to the jeep road and follow it up to the old mine area. This is a steep, moderately difficult hike with no shade.

  • South Coyote Canyon Trail 26.4 miles round trip - Challenging historic trail to the southern end of the beautiful Coyote Canyon.  Click here for detailed information about this trail

  • Salvador Canyon (aka Thousand Palms Canyon): Easy to moderate, 3 miles (2 hours) roundtrip from the trailhead. This often overlooked tributary of the Coyote Canyon Creek drainage allows for a fairly easy walk to the reward of a beautiful California Desert Fan Palm grove, perched inside the steep walls of this quiet canyon. The walk begins where the road ends.

Tamarisk Grove Area

  • Bill Kenyon Overlook 1 mile loop
    Begins on Yaqui Pass Road at Yaqui Pass Campground. Six species of cactus and fabulous views of San Felipe Wash, Mescal Bajada and Pinyon Mountains. Easy hike.

  • Cactus Loop Trail: Moderate, 1-mile loop (45 minutes) offers self-guiding interpretative signs for initial 1/3 of trail. Starts across the road from the flagpole in Tamarisk Campground. Tamarisk region. It offers excellent views of San Felipe Wash, the surrounding mountains and, of course, lots of cactus.

  • Fish Creek Wind Caves Trail 2 miles round trip
    Begins 3 miles from Split Mountain Road on Fish Creek Wash. Somewhat steep, but easy hike to carved out sandstone formations.

  • Trail to Yaqui Well: Easy, flat, 1.5 mile (1 hour) round trip offers wonderful display of desert wash flora. Abundant birds and other wildlife, as well as ancient Ironwood Trees surround Yaqui Well, a desert water hole. Begins across the road from Tamarisk Campground; alternate trail returns via Yaqui Well Primitive Campground road, just south of the well.

  • Narrows Earth Trail: Easy, 1/3-mile loop (half hour) displaying geologic features of a small canyon at The Narrows of San Felipe Wash. A brochure explaining this self-guided auto tour is available at the trailhead on the south side on Highway 78, 4.7 mile east of Tamarisk Campground.

  • Mud Hills Wash to Elephant Knees: Moderate, 4 miles (2 hours) round trip from trailhead. This hike will take you through the magical mud hills on the edge of the Fish Creek badlands and up to the top of the Elephant Knees mesa where you can see for yourself the vastness and density of the area's oyster shell reefs.

Bow Willow Area

  • Pygmy Grove 1 mile round trip
    Turn off Hwy. S-2 for Mountain Palm Springs Campground, but stay left. An easy hike leads you to 50 short palm trees.

  • Bow Willow Campground to Southwest Grove Loop Hike: Easy to moderate, 3 miles (3 hours) round trip from trailhead. Start this hike at the western edge of Bow Willow Campground located 1.5 miles west of Highway S-2. Limited parking is available at the trailhead with additional parking for up to 20 vehicles in an area 75 yards east of the campground entrance.

  • Mary's Bowl Grove .5 miles round trip
    Turn off Hwy. S-2 for Mountain Palm Springs Campground, but stay right. Follow rocky arroyo path visible from campground, take the right fork. Elephant trees and palms are only a short walk from the palm area.

  • Palm Bowl 2.0 miles round trip
    Turn of Hwy. S-2 for Mountain Palm Springs Campground, but stay right. Follow rocky arroyo path visible from campground; take the left fork passing through Surprise Canyon, a large grove. Continue 1/2 mile further to reach Palm Bowl, ringed by more than 100 palms.

Blair Valley Area

  • Ghost Mountain 2 miles round trip
    Begins in Blair Valley, 2.7 miles from Hwy. S-2. The ruins of the Marshall South home
    (called Yaquitepec) where writers Marshal and Tanya South lived for 15 years while raising 3 children in primitive conditions in the 1930's, can be seen at the top of this short, steep, trail.  more from

  • Morteros Trail .4 miles round trip
    Begins in Blair Valley, 3.5 miles from Hwy. S-2. Indian grinding holes are visible in the boulders along this very easy trail.

  • Pictograph Trail/Smuggler's Canyon Trail 2 or 3 miles round trip
    Begins in Blair Valley, 3.6 miles from Hwy. S-2. This is an easy trail that climbs over a low pass, leading to a pictograph-covered boulder. Continue 1/2 mile further to reach Smuggler's Canyon. The trail stops at the edge of a dry waterfall with great views of the Vallecito Valley.  see photo gallery of this trail.
    more from

  • Oriflamme Canyon 2.6 miles with 4wd access or 8.6 miles round trip
    Turn off Hwy. S-2 one mile south of Box Canyon onto Oriflamme Canyon Road. With 4wd travel, 3 miles. Take the left fork at 2 miles, and turn left onto rough road at 2.8 miles. This is a more difficult hike. Follow an old, overgrown cattle trail upstream. After 1.3 miles, you will pass a major tributary coming in from the west. Continue 0.1 miles to discover a hidden 15-foot waterfall. Somewhat rough trail, some poison oak.

More Trails:

  • The Slot: Moderate, 1.5 miles (1.5 hours) round trip from the trailhead near Borrego Mountain Wash. To reach the trailhead drive to the intersection of Borrego Springs Road and Highway 78. Turn east on the Highway and drive 1.5 miles and look for Buttes Pass Road on your left (near mile marker #87). Drive one mile on this washboard road to the Borrego Mountain Wash junction and stay to the left for another 0.7 mile. At this point park where the road curves sharply to the left.  more on slot canyons in the park.

  • Inner Pasture: Easy, 6 miles (4 hours) round trip from the trailhead at mile marker 41 on highway S-2. Park your vehicle near the mile marker 41. Follow the broad sandy wash that supports the growth of many large Smoke Trees. After hiking 3/4 of a mile the drainage enters the narrow confines of the Tierra Blanca Mountains. Travel through this scenic gorge always staying in the main drainage. The steep rocky hillsides support a fine growth of barrel cactus, Ocotillo, and cholla.  After doing a wide 180-degree turn in the wash, pass a barbed wire fence on the right and within 1/4 mile the wash opens up to the mile-wide Inner Pasture. The best vantage point is a small rock pile located due south of the canyon mouth. From here good views of the Inner Pasture can be obtained. The Inner Pasture is about 3.5 miles in length with many archeological sites located around the perimeter.
  • Inspiration Point: Easy, 0.5 miles (1 hour) round trip. The hike to Inspiration Point is about 400 yards each way, and is short enough to be suitable even during the summer months. The trailhead can be reached via County Highway S-22 (Borrego-Salton Seaway). East of milepost marker #29 is the signed entrance to Font's Wash. Make a right turn and follow the wash approximately 3.0 miles. Soon, the road narrows into several hairpin turns, then widens again. Look for a large indigo bush growing in the middle of the wash. This marks the informal trailhead. Park on the right or left shoulder of the wash. From this small parking area, hike west about 10 to 15 minutes across a gentle sloping featureless incline.
  • Jasper Trail: 15-mile (4 hours), moderate trail descends through scenic Grapevine Canyon. Trailhead near the west end of the park on the south side of County Road S-22, emerging at Yaqui Well Primitive Campground. Considered one of the best mountain bike trails in Southern California. Starts Anza region and ends in Tamarisk region.
  • Mountain Palm Springs Canyon, South Fork Trail: Moderate, 3 miles round trip (1.5 hours) to Pygmy Grove and Southwest Grove of Fan Palms, as well as a stand of Elephant Trees in Torote Bowl. In the Bow Willow area, from County Road S-2, take turnoff at Mountain Palm Springs Primitive Campground, stay left.

  • Mountain Palm Springs Canyon, North Fork Trail: Moderate 2.5-mile round trip (1.5 hours) to North Grove, Mary's Bowl Grove (Elephant and Palm Trees) and Palm Bowl (ringed by more than 100 palms). In the Bow Willow region, from County Road S-2, take turnoff at Mountain Palm Springs Primitive Campground, stay right.

Horseback Riding Trails

Riding during the summer months is not recommended. Temperatures range from 110 - 120 degrees F. from June through September.

Jeep Roads

All designated jeep roads are open to horses.

California Riding and Hiking Trail

Moderate, 6-mile, one-way trail (3 hours) follows the ridge between Hellhole and Dry canyons offering spectacular views of the Borrego Desert. Take Culp Valley Primitive Camp turnoff from County S-22 and watch for right fork to the campground. Trailhead is near campground at 3,400-foot elevation and descends through transitional flora, to the desert floor exhibiting plants that grow below 1000 feet. Trail exits at the Visitor Center parking lot for hikers and 0.5 miles from the Center on S-22 for horsemen, where there is parking and turnaround space for horse trailers. Located in the Anza Region

see: for additional information.

Coyote Canyon Trail

Trailhead begins at the Vern Whittaker Horse Camp. This trail is closed during the summer months from June 16 through September 15

Pacific Crest Trail

Park at Scissors Crossing, S-22 at Buena Vista Creek.

Jasper Trail

15-mile (4 hours), moderate trail descends through scenic Grapevine Canyon. Trailhead starts at the parking area four miles east of S-2, or 2.7 miles west of Yaqui Pass Road also called (S-3) on Highway 78, west of the Plum Canyon turnoff.

Horse Camps & Accommodations

Vern Whittaker Horse Camp

For campers with horses only. For the equestrian camper or day user this camp provides the ultimate horse camp. The campground has 10 sites, 40 corrals, and solar powered heated showers. This campground is the staging area for many miles of riding trails.

Directions: From the Visitor's Center take Borrego Springs Rd. to horse camp signs just past Indian Head Ranch Rd.

Off-Road Trails (click here for a link to the many Off-Road Trails in the park)

Click here for detailed plant trail guides in the park.

From :

More information on trails in the park from








The file abskytrail.txt contains the 15 recommended waypoints to follow the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Sky Trail described in Pilot Getaways magazine. For a description and map of the tour, see the sidebar on page 39 of the September/October 2006 issue. The Sky Trail was developed to give pilots and their passengers a chance to enjoy the natural and historic features of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, some of which can only be seen from the air. The guide books were written by former state park pilot Jon Meunch and are available at the State Park Visitor Center store $4, (760) 767-4961.

GPS waypoints make your navigation a lot easier. You can download the waypoints as a text file, or you can enter them manually from the table below.

Download GPS waypoints:
The route in Tab Delimited Text format and the Readme text file.

(Note: Clicking on the above links will bring up the text document automatically. Windows users can right-mouse-click on the links and select "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" to download the file. Macintosh users can click and hold until another menu pops up, giving you the option to download.)

The Waypoints and Coordinates:
If you cannot upload coordinates into your GPS and need to do so manually, the waypoints are listed below:

ABST01 33 16.71
116 5.74
ABST02 33 0.73
116 6.90
ABST03 32 58.55
116 11.68
ABST04 33 0.28
116 4.45
ABST05 32 55.82
116 3.39
ABST06 32 45.64
116 3.20
ABST07 32 50.69
116 9.74
ABST08 32 52.95
116 12.39
ABST09 32 56.58
116 18.42
ABST10 32 59.39
116 25.68
ABST11 33 5.79
116 28.59
ABST12 33 19.29
116 34.00
ABST13 33 27.43
116 35.47
ABST14 33 23.79
116 25.44
ABST15 33 24.68
116 20.86

Meanings of columns in the above table:

ID: Four or five-character waypoint ID. Note that all user waypoints start with "2" so that they appear together on an alphabetical listing of waypoints.

LatD: Whole degrees of latitude of the waypoint.

LatM: Minutes and tenths of minutes of latitude of the waypoint (e.g. "42.37").

N/S: Always "N" to signify north latitude (required by some GPS programs).

LonD: Whole degrees of longitude of the waypoint.

LonM: Minutes and tenths of minutes of longitude of the waypoint (e.g. "25.34").

E/W: Always "W" to signify west longitude (required by some GPS programs).


see also:,2145124

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