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.
This is truly an awesome adventure and I recommend it without reservation. I choose to mountain bike this because I am lazy.
I started out at the De Anza Resort. You drive up to the gate, buzz in and tell them you want to park for the trailhead. Then you drive to the office, see a few naked people, and sign in and pay $5. I didn't particularly want to pay to park at the resort but the few parking spaces on the county road under I-8 were taken by the time I go there. So I sucked it up and paid, saves a little bit of distance and gives you some peace of mind about your car. Also, I've read some reports that the dirt road is really bad and you need high clearance, but that was not my experience at all. Maybe those reports were for the northern trail head for the bridge, but my Prius had no problems, its a well maintained dirt road.
Mountain biking this trail requires you to get off your bike a few times and cross the tracks and hike-a-bike through small sections of loose rock, but it wasn't enough to be a chore.
BRING A FLASHLIGHT AND/OR HEADLAMP, SPARE TUBES - I caught up to and passed a father and son who were biking the trail on bmx bikes, which seemed to be working for them, although not the greatest for this ride. Anyway, I passed them right before a long tunnel and they didn't have lights, a few minutes in I heard a crash and went back, the kid had run into on of the many large stones and popped his tire. He was fine, no scratches, but that was it for them. I carry two spares in my pack but they are 26ers, so it wasn't going to work for them. I made sure they had enough water and food and continued on. But in the 10 or so tunnels, two get very dark and have some debris to look out for, most of the others are clear. Just be aware and go slow if you are on a bike.
Going to the trestle is a slight downhill, so coming back you get a bit of an incline but it is hardly noticeable. Bring lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat because there is little shade, even early in the morning.
My total mileage was just under 14 miles round trip and just under 3 hours and that was with lots of stops for pictures.
Overall, this was a great experience and you should get out and experience it before it gets too hot.
We approached the mountain from the West where the PCT crosses Rodriguez Spur Truck Trail. The ascent was steep and we followed the ridge line to the peak. Wear long pants and bring extra water. This is a strenuous hike with many false peaks but the view is 360 and makes it all worth while.
Whoops - the trail isn't well marked, so we veered off course and started climbing rocks for a while. Once we realized we were wrong, we got back on track and we're all set. Really loved this hike. Some great views, and not too long in case it's hot out.
We did this one 2/20/17. It was beautiful weather and not too hot. The trail is pretty easy and really no elevation gain. The waterfall at the top makes it worth the trip. Definitely want to make sure it is flowing before you make the trek. Lots of mountain goats at the bottom which was very exciting to see.
Fun trail. Many washed out spots from the winter rains. Half way up the lengthy switchbacks, there is a tight squeeze due to a boulder that has fallen on the trail: get over or by it, or back down a gnarly section and turn around.
When we got to the trail's end on Banner Grade, there was a "locked gate," or so it appeared. My kids' jaws dropped and they shouted in unison, "what the heck!" (Just push it open...haha).
There is a coin-operated car wash in Ramona to rinse off the mega-amounts of dirt that you will accumulate.
Slots and wind caves were awesome but the trail needs to be marked better. Most of the trail follows a sand wash but there is a place where the trail breaks from the wash and ascends. We missed the turn and followed the wash and got boxed in, requiring extensive backtracking. Pay attention!