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Whale Peak is a 9 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Borrego Springs, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and rock climbing and is best used from October until May.

Distance: 9.0 miles Elevation Gain: 2,122 feet Route Type: Out & Back

hiking

rock climbing

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

over grown

rocky

scramble

no dogs

Googling or using the app for driving directions to the trailhead may bring you to the wrong place. You need to take the first dirt road you pass off of S2 coming from Scissors Crossing, not the second one as Google would have you take. The dirt road to the trail head is pretty gnarly and you will probably want some clearance. Trail is really well marked.

hiking
1 month ago

First things first: DO NOT take the road that Google Maps wants you to get on. Take Pinyon Mountain road. Study Google Maps before you go and make sure you know exactly what you're looking for and where you're going. Pinyon Mountain road is a sandy dirt road that is mostly unkempt. The road is soft and doesn't have any major obstacles, at least to the start point on AllTrails. I have a car with only 8.6in ground clearance and decided to go to the start point on AllTrails and not past that point, where the road gets significantly worse. If you have a high clearance 4WD, you can get all the way to the "real trailhead", which follows Old Pinyon road for about two miles longer, and then up to the right for about a half mile. To be fair, I did see a stock Subaru Forester at the real trailhead, which means you can maybe do it in an SUV with high ground clearance, I wouldn't risk it though. Trail was neat. Three different sections of steep scrambling, sandwiching two flat exposed sections. Tons of foliage along the way, cacti and juniper galore make for a pretty hike up. The view is good but not breathtaking. You can see the Salton Sea from the top on a clearer day. The biggest tip I can give is to pay attention to the cairns. If you're not paying attention to either those or the AllTrails map, you will absolutely get lost.

hiking
bugs
no shade
off trail
over grown
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

DO NOT START THE TRAIL WHERE GOOGLE MAPS TAKES YOU. Instead, go down Old Pinyon Road. If you start the trail where it tells you to, you will have to go where it is uncharted, and be forced to walk through many cactuses and holes. I started this way via Google maps. Upon heading back, I did not want to get lost in the desert after already doing 11.1 miles, so I headed backed to the S2 on Old Pinion Road, and back through the way I was told to go from google maps to get back to the car. I did this so I would not get lost at night, and it ended up being about a 20.2 mile hike and five hours in the dark. It is that far off of the actual trail head! Eight miles from The S2 is where the road turns to the trail of off Old Pinyon Highway, most of the road can be traveled by truck or SUV. Whale Peak was great with lots of scrambling, switchbacks, some false peaks, and many cactuses looking to get you. At the peak you can see 360 degrees of valleys, and The Salton Sea. It was about 50 degrees at the base, and the summit is over a mile up. The wind was blowing a good 25mph. Pack warm and have fun! Fun scrambling, and I would recommend this as long as you start where you should.

hiking
no shade
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

Did this on a sunny Saturday, leap year, temps in the 60s, gusty winds. We were able to drive all the way up to the trailhead using a stock 4Runner, would not recommend low clearance vehicles attempting to make it past the second parking area, there are rocks that would likely scrape the bottom of your vehicle and some areas you might get stuck. Since we started from the closest parking to the trail the entire round trip was only 5.4 miles. The trail is pretty easy to follow, starts climbing right away and alternates between climbing and flat sections. Lots of cholla cacti and other pokey plants out, normal desert stuff. Neat pine trees next to cacti, as other reviews said. Summit had some really neat views. All in all pretty good trail, not crowded - saw less than 10 people on a Saturday. There are no amenities at the trailhead, just a long dirt road that becomes a rocky 4x4 trail, then a dirt parking area. It's the desert, so bring sunscreen, water, more water, and download the map, things all look alike out there.

hiking
4 months ago

1/5/20. First I’ll say a few things about the road: It is possible to reach the trailhead in a regular car. But I’m going to go on the record to say that it’s not a good idea. After the turn off it’s a narrow, one lane dirt road. Sand mostly, as well as large rocks. The bottom of my vehicle scraped the ground several times. Nothing major happened, but there’s potential for either serious damage to the undercarriage, or getting stuck in deep sand. If you’re dying to do this hike and drive a normal car, do yourself a favor and go rent a pickup or an SUV. This area is extremely remote, and you don’t want to get stranded here. I would never drive my car to this trail again. The hike itself: spectacular. Follow the cairns and footprints. Keep an eye on the GPS though... these desert hikes can be disorienting. Everything starts to look like a trail. Stay focused and don’t get lost. Several false summits on the way up, you won’t see the true summit until you’re practically standing on it. You’ll know you’re almost there when you reach the point where you can see down the south face of the mountain, and you begin to scramble up a bouldery outcropping. There’s some interesting things about this mountain... there’s like 2 different ecosystems up there. It’s a desert and sub alpine environment combined. It might be one of the only places in California you’ll see a cactus next to a pine tree. There was snow on various parts of the trail also. There wasn’t a single human being on this entire trail when I went up it on a Sunday morning. Be super prepared. Took me a total of 5 hours out and back.

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

About 3h30m moving time for the route marked here, moving quick. Parked at the start point marked here in a RWD truck with off-road tires - no issues. watch out for deep sand! It was wet from recent rain. I could have made it up to the turn off to whale peak trail in my vehicle but preferred a walk. I hiked the route mapped here alone with no issues. More scrambling than i anticipated in a fun way. Trail was easy to follow thanks to plenty of cairns - i recommend downloading the route for backup. lots of chollas so i was on full alert with shorts on. Windbreaker was nice to have around the top.

hiking
no shade
rocky
Sun May 26 2019

Great hike, it’s actually not hard at all if you’re able to drive up to where the ascent starts ( area where you are scrambling) weather is nice but the it get really chilly at the peak since all the winds pick up

Sun Mar 31 2019

Fantastic views from the top. You can clearly see The Salton Sea as well as Blair Valley campgrounds and even Scissors Crossing, where the PCT, goes right by. The trail itself is very well distinguished and if not there are cairns everywhere to follow. Keep an eye out for the next cairn and you can't go wrong. Just be mindful of where this trail and the trail from the Pictograph trail intersect so you don't make a wrong turn. The rock scrambling is very minimal and easy where I never had to climb down backwards anywhere. Nowhere on the trail seemed dangerous at all and the trail levels off after each small segment of climbs so it made the entire trail very easy. If you have a high clearance vehicle, I drove up to the intersection in a stock 4runner only using 2WD the entire way easily, the hike is pretty easy. I would rate it somewhere just below moderate.

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
Sun Mar 10 2019

Fun hike with a bit of bouldering action. If you have a high clearance vehicule just push it a bit further so you don't hike the dirt road. I would try to reach the trailhead with a compact car. Really good view at the top.

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
Sat Mar 02 2019

Beautiful hike, unbelievable views. Things of note: Alltrails directions to the trailhead bring you to the wrong place. You need to take the first dirt road you pass off of S2 coming from Scissors Crossing, not the second one as Alltrails and Google would have you take. The dirt road to the trail head is pretty gnarly. Probably want some clearance. Trail is really well marked, but I would bring a gpx file as it is hard to find it some times.

hiking
no shade
off trail
rocky
scramble
Sat Feb 09 2019

Great hike and amazing views. Make sure you wear long sleeve and pants as the chollas are abundant this year. Two hiking members got stabbed by agave plants ( be mindful of what your body is nearby). I found climbing gloves helpful because the granite was super duper smooth on the way up. Dont forget your sunblock! Enjoy

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