off road driving
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. Five hundred miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and many miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert. The park is named for Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, or bighorn sheep. The park features varied desert terrain and habitats, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes, mule deer and bighorn sheep as well as iguanas, chuckwallas and the red diamond rattlesnake. Listening devices for the hearing impaired are available in the visitor center. Many visitors approach from the east via Highways S22, S2, or 78. Visitors from San Diego and other points west arrive via Highways 79 and 78 can have the added pleasure of driving through the mountainous Cuyamaca Rancho State Park--quite a different experience from Anza-Borrego. The highways from the west climb to 2,400 feet or so and then descend about 2,000 feet to the valley. Where the highway breaks out of the high-country vegetation, it reveals the great bowl of the Anza-Borrego desert. The valley spreads below, and there are mountains all around. The Santa Rosa Mountains on the north side of this basin are notably grand. The surrounding mountains are wilderness, with no paved roads in or out or through. They have the only all-year-flowing watercourse in the park. They are the home of the peninsular bighorn sheep, often called desert bighorn. Few park visitors ever see them; the sheep wary in their defense against predators. A patient few observers each year see and count them, to learn how this endangered species is coping with human encroachment.
Jennifer R. on Maidenhair Falls via Hellhole Canyo...
Fun hike. Interesting change over terrain.
Beautiful hike, but too difficult for me. We made it to the second saddle past the palms before turning around. I am still not sure if we had already tackled the most difficult part, however we had to turn back to return by dark. I would definitely not want to tackle the boulders in the Mortero Palm Oasis in the dark. We probably only hiked 2 miles round trip, but it took us 4 hours because we had to backtrack to find boulders that we could tackle on the way down. I am a weekend hiker and in average shape for a 40-something. My husband had to brace me to get me down the taller boulders because I am also a bit afraid of jumping. We will not be tackling this one again, so it is as complete as it will be for me. My big disappointment was that we did not see any Big Horn sheep. Note, the trail is extremely difficult to follow, so bring a topo map and navigation. I checked Afoot and Afield AFTER we returned and think it would have been a helpful preparation as he recommends a route to avoid the slippery stones in the midst of the canyon.
There was no water in the creekbed in November, there was no trail other than the 4x4 truck trail you walk on which is a very rocky road, and then you have to pick a spot to drop down into the canyon. There's lots of brush and prickly bushes, rattlesnake hideouts and tarantulas. We did see a rattlesnake on the truck trail so be careful.
Good hike and great view. Complete during early morning or afternoon. No shelter.
J M. on Calcite Mine Trail
I would recommend starting this hike as early as possible to avoid the heat that comes on early and quickly & bring plenty of water. Parking is 300 feet past the trail head. Watch out for fire ants.