Explore the most popular trails near Thermal with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking

Thermal, California Map
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Started our hike at 7:30am in early January to beat the heat. It started off about 59 degrees and got to about 75 degrees by noon. The weather was perfect this time of year. There was a nice cool breeze but the sun was intense. Bring lots of sunscreen and a hat. The views were amazing! We hiked off trail a bit and took a harder route in the hopes of seeing goats. Great workout! Glad I had 3 liters of water. We did a lot of rock scrambling and climbing through some awesome slots along the way. We also saw a lot of fossils. Before we headed back on the loop we saw some interesting wind caves. Some were pretty small. But we still climbed through them. We stopped in a larger cave and had lunch. When looking out from this peak, you could see the badlands. Truly enjoyed this hike but if I wasn't there with someone who knew the area, I would've gotten lost. The trails are not well marked.

Took out my family in my Titan that’s 2wd, had no problem at all handling anything out there. Easy trails to navigate mainly follow the wash till you get there. Some soft sand here and there but the trails are so wide that you can easily go around. Didn’t have to air down the tires or anything like that.

Really fun trail. Main trail is wide, follows a wash, and the driver can easily pick their own route. Plenty of forks, so remember where you go; seemed easy to get lost or turned around.

I don't think I did the full 29 miles but I did a large portion of it. Easy wash roads, beautiful desert scenery.

We enjoyed the trail a lot! Luckily we had our own personal tour guide in Bill; he's hiked the area for many years and was able to tell us a lot of the history of the surrounding areas. Definitely recommend starting in the early morning and especially during the winter months. Trail mix or some energy giving food isn't a bad idea either.

Any 4wd can do this! Easy day!

hiking
10 months ago

Actually a pretty tough hike, add a couple miles at both ends if you have to walk in from the highway. We did and logged 12 miles by the end of the day, but we did a lot of wandering around also. It is truly beautiful in many spots.

Love that very easy hike, saw only one elephant tree that is very interesting to learn about this tree and how ancient used and still mexican!!

hiking
Sunday, January 08, 2017

Trail was good but very easy to get off course. I would recommend this as a more advanced trail. The trail frequently is gone and you have to use the map to try your best to pick it back up.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

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.

great trail

hiking
Thursday, October 20, 2016

This trail kicked my butt. I wasn't prepared.. I'll be back tomorrow to conquer. I got side tracked quite a bit. The trail is not easy to follow. Beautiful scenery!

hiking
Thursday, March 17, 2016

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.

hiking
Wednesday, April 22, 2015

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.

off road driving
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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.

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