Explore the best trails near Thermal with detailed reviews, photos, trail maps, and driving directions curated by hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
off road driving
A fun afternoon out and in. Unless you have the AllTrails map up and following it, it could be easy to get lost because the trail goes in tons of directions. There are lots of cool views of California and Mexico and really neat rock formations. You could even do some small amounts of bouldering on a few big rocks if you are into that. I was driving a mini van so I walked from parking area to the trail head which is an additional 0.7miles. Unless you have 4 wheel drive I don't recommend trying to drive up the the trail head.
Hiked Painted Gorge and climbed Corrizo Mountain today. 19.3 miles, over 2,300 feet of elevation gain, just over 7 hours. The gale force winds at the top made the summit a bit more exciting...although those same winds made the descent in a sandstorm less than fun. Incredible geologic formations and amazing views - check out the pics. Saw a piece of volcanic pumice the size of a small car! This hike is highly recommended!
Good and rugged terrain - best to have a 4x4 or at least a high clearance vehicle to get up the road from Old Highway 80. Having map and compass are a must, and Jerry Schad's description of the approach to the summit is a bit sketchy. Climbed it in November 2015, very little human presence except for a Border Patrol truck and some guys trying to get a Nissan Pathfinder up the 4x4 road.
Great hike up to the peak of Carrizo Mt! My only problem was trying to find the actual trail. If your unfamiliar to the area it is very difficult to find the correct roads that lead to the trail that takes you to the peak. There is no signage that points you in the correct direction so do your research before, or simply ask the local 4x4 community to point you to the correct roads and trails. Essentially the road up to the peak is the same road the 4x4 community use to summit the mountain. I made the mistake of missing the trail and ended up at a dead end in the painted gorge. I had to climb up, and out and landed on the trail by luck. Once on the trail, it was a simple, relaxing hike up to the summit!
This hike is challenging for several reasons. First off, from where you park you cant see the Blue Angel peak because its obscured by several false peaks, and instead you think that its a nice short peak, when in fact its really not.Next time I'll print out an Alltrails TOPO map for reference as it took me a liitle before i could identify which peak was BA.
Its also challenging because there are a myriad of trails out there splitting off to different peaks in all directions. And although and I did have a hiking book for reference ( Afoot and Afield in San Diego County by Jerry Schad) i never did make it to the BA summit after hiking for 2.5 miles towards the summit, according to the track i recorded and uploaded ( titled apr212015.) I got close but couldnt find a trail to get me to the summit. And according to Jerry Schad its approx 2.5 miles to the summit. So i clearly went the wrong way. I plan on attempting this again in the future and trying a different route.
The hike itself is moderatly strenous because your ascending 90% of the time. Also, it was HELLA Windy. He describes this place as one of the windiest places in Southern Cali. It was very gusty and blew my big floppy hat off several times. He also points out the BA peak is the highest point in 'Alta' California, whatever that means. I did manage to summit a peak just below the BA peak and discovered some old retangular shaped decaying cinder block building perched with a great view of the smaller peaks below hovering over the wind-turbine covered desert floor. The BA Peak is visible in the picture shot from inside the cinderblock structure looking out.I uploaded several pics to document my hike.
Im disappointed i didnt make the summit as i ran out of time. But I'm looking forward to trying again.
If you do only one 4wd trail in Anza Borrego, this should be the one. It is an easy drive through a sand wash and a canyon. It's not a challenge to drive but the scenery is fantastic. Because the sand can get soft, I'd recommend 4wd. I've seen 2wd vehicles in there but have also seen plenty getting towed after digging in. So be careful.
I reached Sandstone Canyon via a 12.5 mile drive on Fish Creek Wash. A mile or so in on Fish Creek Wash is the Fish Creek Camp which has a vault toilet and primitive camping sites. Fish Creek Wash goes through Split Mountain which is spectacular to drive through. At about 4.5 miles is the trailhead for the hike to the wind caves. Very cool to see. Great views from the top. Bring lots of water for this hike.
There is a small sign that indicates the start of Sandstone Canyon at about 12.5 miles on Fish Creek. The canyon is only about 7 miles. There are two obstacles on the trail. The first is a large rock which can be passed on either side, depending on your rig. To the right heading in is tight but I had "plenty" of room in a 2013 Jeep. To the left are some small to medium-sized rocks but nothing real challenging. We stopped at the next large obstacle which was impassable the first time we were there. Since, several rigs have been able to get over the huge pile of boulders but I'm still too chicken. We chose to watch others brave it and hiked on foot past the pileup.
The drive up 'til then is to die for. The canyon walls are at least a couple hundred feet high and are so close together that at some points on the trail, you can stick your hands out the windows of the Jeep and touch the walls.
We stopped at the big pileup of rocks and had lunch and walked around.
We see hikers every now and then along the drive and I always wonder how and why anybody could walk that far out but people seem to like it!
One last warning: do NOT drive this wash if it is raining or rain is anywhere near the forecast. It turns into a raging river.
Also, pick up Charles Wells' Guide to Southern CA Backroads if you don't already have it. It's THE book to have.