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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

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Trailhead Elevation 768 feet
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30  2017-03-31 gummo
22  2017-01-16 RedRoxx44
29  2016-01-16 gummo
22  2015-10-24 gummo
20  2015-04-16 gummo
55  2015-03-22
Huntington Beach CA - March 2015
38  2015-03-16 gummo
52  2015-03-09 gummo
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Big State, Big Park, Big Sheep
by HAZ_Hikebot

Note: This is a general entry. Specific entries within the area are certainly welcome.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in southern California is the largest state park in California. The park is located on the eastern side of San Diego County, with portions extending east into Imperial County and north into Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from San Diego, Riverside and Palm Springs. The park is named after Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and the Spanish word borrego, or Bighorn Sheep.

500 miles (804 km) of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and miles of hiking trails provide visitors with an opportunity to experience the wonders of the Colorado Desert. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti, ocotillo and sweeping vistas. Visitors may also have the chance to see greater roadrunner, 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.

Most visitors approach from the east via California Highways S22, S2, or 78. Visitors from San Diego via Highways 79 and 78 have the added pleasure of driving through the mountainous Cuyamaca Rancho State Park... quite a different experience from Anza-Borrego. The highways from the east climb to 2,400 feet (731 m) or so and then descend about 2,000 feet (609 m) 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 highest are to the north... the Santa Rosa Mountains. The mountains are a 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 the Desert Bighorn. Few park visitors ever see them; the sheep are justly wary. A patient few observers each year see and count them, to learn how this endangered species is coping with human encroachment.

There are 500 miles of off-road trails in the state park, and 110 miles of bike and hiking trails.
Source: Wikipedia

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Name: gummo

    Mood: happy with a sideways smile

    Itinerary: Cibola NWR to look at birds :next:  Anza Borrego Desert State Park to look at bighorns, frogs, and to practice my kung fu on metal statues :next:  Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR to look at more birds :next:  Watch the Broncos defeat the Steelers in a cheap motel ($30.03/night) :next:  Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR for more birding :next:  Drive Home

    Weather: sunny and high of 70F, lows in the 40s (jacket-less weather)

    Song: Creepy Jackalope Eye by The Supersuckers ( ... BrPM)

    Audiobook: Why Gender Matters by Leonard Sax

    Gallon Of Gas: $1.87/Gallon ($1.99/Gallon in 2014)

    Weight: 188lbs (same as last year)

    Best Outings in 2015: 1) Exploring Central PA in June. 2) Seeing Snake Road in October. 3) SoCal trip - Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree NP, and San Diego in mid-March. 4) Joshua Tree NP on 5/11/15. 5) Florida trip in January.

    Highlights of 2015: 1) hanging out with bighorns in Anza Borrego in March, 2) hanging out with cottonmouths in Illinois, 3) seeing a lyre snake at Goldfield Oven Loop in November, 4) saw my 7th bobcat in December, 5) swimming with manatees in Florida.

    # of Coyotes seen in 2015: 33

    Recycling Income in 2015: $81.45 ($73.64 in 2014)

    # of New Species in 2015: 66 (26 species in 2014)

    Animals That I’ve Seen In Abundance Last Year: Blue Gray Gnatcatchers, Rosy-faced Lovebirds, Coyotes, Gila Woodpeckers, Coachwhips, Verdins.

    Usual Sightings in 2015: 1) One yellow and one blue mating pair of Rosy-faced Lovebirds (they’re usually green), 2) Two bucks fighting, 3) Red-Shouldered Hawk in Cibola, 4) Lyre Snake in November, 5) Otters catching a fish.

    Mission of 2016: To teach you all how to photograph snakes.

    Confessions: 1) I don’t like people taking my photo because they normally don’t do it right, 2) I once ate a whole large pizza and 25 wings and was still hungry, 3) I don’t call pets by their names.


    I took advantage of a 4-day weekend and went on a mini-road trip to Cibola, Anza Borrego, and Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR for a little getaway. I was supposed to go Xmas weekend but I met a girl and got sick (the two are not related :stop:). Anyway, I wanted to start the new year off right and get back to my old stomping grounds.

    I got to Cibola late, around 1pm, and didn’t see much of anything besides snow geese, which numbered in the thousands. The sandhills were not where they should be, so I had to work a little hard to find them and most everything else.

    The next day, I found the sandhill cranes and a plethora of other birds, including my first flock of white-faced ibises. I also found out why there were fewer birds out yesterday. There were a lot of hunters out after ducks and geese and were blastin’ away all Saturday morning. I’m not against hunting but hunting and photography don’t mix. I didn’t manage to see enough to satisfy me, but I left earlier than expected and headed toward Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

    I hit the park around 1pm PST on a Saturday. I managed to spot the bighorns within 2 hours, but I was a little late and the bighorns were getting up the mountain to retire for the night. I didn’t get those Disney moments and close-ups, but I did manage to get a few good shots. I also scrambled around to look for other stuff but came up empty.

    I searched for some frog by the ponds and only saw 3. Usually, I’ll see dozens. One California treefrog was white and looked more like one from the San Diego area. They have a lot of different looks to them. I also discovered where they rest during the day. They were coming out of the palm trees. I always thought they were in the pond grass. Maybe they are in the warmer months.

    That evening and the next day, which would be Sunday, I drove around like a typical tourist looking at the metal statues. I saw my arch nemesis, the giant sloth, and gave it a major karate kick with a little extra UMFPH! : rambo : I ventured to the south side of Borrego Spring to visit the prehistoric statues and the horses. I got metal splinters climbing the large dinosaur and got cut up on the bighorn statue. I showed the photo of me on the large dinosaur statue. She thought that I photoshopped myself on the statue. She didn’t believe me when I told her that I had to set the camera on a 10-second timer and climbed it. I actually messed that photo up because I wanted to be standing on it but I did not have time. I only tried that one once because I was took hard to climb.

    I had some time to kill before the Broncos game and went to Sonny Bono’s NWR. It was okay. A lot of hard-core birders were there looking like they were on safari and taken themselves too seriously. I watched the football game and decided to stay put for the night and go birding the next morning.

    I didn’t wake up as crisp and as early as I planned. I was going to plan to go to Mittry Lake near Yuma, but I went back to Sonny’s because of the time. I only saw a few tweetie birds, and just called it quits and headed home.

    That’s all folks…
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Huntington Beach CA - March 2015
    Huntington Beach CA - March 2015

    388 miles, 5hrs 48min per Google Maps
    Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel, Huntington Beach CA

    Dogs are allowed at Huntington Dog Beach :next: ... html located about a mile northwest up the beach from the pier and our Kimpton Shorebreak Hotel base camp.

    We've never been to Huntington Beach before and with fog friendly Kimpton Hotels never letting us down, decided to check it out. Also gives us to meet up with a business associate, Tim Smith, and his family. His “strategy” business is located in Huntington Beach :next: ... .pdf and ... .pdf

    Day 1 - Sunday March 22nd, 2015
    FitBit totals = 5.71 miles, 110 AEG (11 floors)

    On the road by 9am stopped for lunch at the Blythe CA Burger King. Our I-10 route was “challenged” by multiple construction delays leading us to agree that our return home route will be via I-8! Arrived at our "dog friendly" base-camp at the Shorebreak Kimpton Hotel :next: (I'm becoming partial to this eclectic collection of hotels, a nice alternative to my global business choice of Marriott Hotels...) located by the pier and on the waterfront in Huntington Beach CA. After checking into waterfront view room 429 we were joined by the Smith family, Tim, Tricia, and Garrett for dinner in the dog friendly restaurant located in our hotel :next: ... ala/
    Finished up the day with a brisk stroll along the pier - nice! :next: [ description ]

    Day 2 - Monday March 23rd, 2015
    FitBit totals = 9.04 miles, 110 AEG (11 floors)

    Lynn went for a morning jog along Huntington Beach while I took the dogs over to Primo's for a cup of joe :next: ... each
    Headed over to Huntington Dog Beach to spend most of the day :next: [ description ] and Walked back via Huntington City Beach Trail :next: [ description ] and Huntington State Beach Trail :next: [ description ] Watched the sunset from our waterfront balcony...

    Day 3 - Tuesday March 24th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 8.12 miles, 170 AEG (17 floors)

    Lynn went for another morning jog along Huntington Beach. Dogs and I headed to Primo's for coffee and donuts. This time took the F-150 to Huntington Dog Beach so we could have all our beach gear available. Reasonable parking at $1/hr - $7.50 took us to 5pm. Walked north to Bolsa Chica State Beach :next: [ description ] Dinner at the local Burger King before checkingthe Tuesday a Farmers Market :next: huntingtonbeacheven ... html
    Finished the day taking sunset and evening shots down by the pier...

    Day 4 - Wednesday March 25th, 2015
    FitBit totals = 6.25 miles, 100 AEG (10 floors)

    Lynn went for another daybreak run along the waterfront. We took advantage of the noon-time check out before taking a scenic route back along the PCH to Carlsbad and CA78 to Borrego Springs. Thanks to Randy Storm’s tip locating the Borrego Springs Metal Art Sculptures :next: [ photo ] and
    PCH#1 south to Oceanside/Carlsbad
    CA78 east to Santa Ysabel
    CA79 north to S2 (San Filipe Rd)
    S2 east to S22 (Montezuma Valley - Borrego Hwy) to Borrego Springs
    Anza Borrego Desert State Park :next: [ description ]
    Borrego Springs Road north to Big Horn Road for metal art sculptures :next: [ description ]
    Henderson Canyon Road east to Borrego - Salton Seaway to CA86 at Salton City
    CA86 south to Brawley
    CA78 east to Imperial Sand Dunes :next: [ description ]
    CA78 to Ogilvy Road south to join onto I-8 about 15 miles west of Yuma AZ

    29.12 miles, 490 AEG
    164 images on iPhone 5S
    197 images on Canon 6D
    70 images on Canon 7D
    66 images on Canon Rebel XT

    1. Huntington Beach Pier :next: [ description ]
    2. Huntington Central Park :next: [ description ]
    3. Huntington State Beach Trail :next: [ description ]
    4. Huntington City Beach Trail :next: [ description ]
    5. Huntington Dog Beach Trail :next: [ description ]
    6. Bolsa Chica State Beach Trail :next: [ description ]
    7. Borrego Springs (Galleta Meadows) Metal Art Sculptures :next: [ description ]
    8. Imperial Sand Dunes (Osborne Overlook) :next: [ description ]

    Sent from my iPad
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Back to Anza Borrego Desert State Park on my spring break. I took a friend this time to scout out for some wildlife. We hit Joshua Tree NP, then Anza Borrego DSP, and Lake Cuyamaca State Park. Cuyamaca was a disappointment. My friend is from Southern CA, and he told me that he saw more wildlife in 3 days with me than he has all his life in CA.

    We hit Joshua Tree NP for some light hiking and snake hunting. Together we found a sidewinder and a spotted leaf nosed snake, along with a few other critters.

    After Joshua Tree NP, we hit Anza Borrego Desert State Park. My friend went on his own, so I scouted for some bighorn sheep and found a young herd with no adult rams. I was able to get some good face shots. One bighorn stood out and appeared to have loved the camera and made a lot of goofy and smiley faces. He/She enlarged his/her nostrils while posing and making various faces. It was hard to select the ones for this site to showcase. I can see why some people love bighorn sheep.

    I also found a Sonoran Desert Toad (aka Colorado River Toad) at Anza Borrego, which is a huge deal because they are not supposed to be there, according to ( ... html). I would have told the park service, but didn't, because although friendly and meaning well, they're not well educated with their local fauna and seem to only be concerned with bighorn sheep. Even their knowledge of bighorn sheep is not very accurate. I will figure out who I should tell later.

    After Anza Borrego, we drove thru Julian and hit Lake Cuyamca State Park. Not much is going on at Lake Cuyamca, but deer and turkeys were plentiful, and I saw my 15th coyote of the year there.

    So far, my vacation is going well. I'm still on spring break and will return to Anza Borrego and Joshua Tree later this week to look for more wildlife and stuff. Stay tune...
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Mission: Operation Sheepskin

    Location: Anza Borrego Desert State Park near Palm Canyon

    Weather: Sunny, mid-80s

    Goals: 1) to get my bighorn sheep fix for the year, 2) find a new species to add the fauna list, 3) find my first sidewinder of the year, 4) to discover a new species, 5) to explore new terrain to get to learn the park better.

    Results: 1) found some bighorns, 2) Added verdin, black widow spider, etc. to the fauna list for Anza Borrego 3) No sidewinders :( , 4) Saw a new species: Baja California Treefrog (27th new species for me of this year!), 5) Explore the mountain tops south of Palm Canyon.

    Mood: content

    Song: I Got Beers by Kenneth Keith Kallenbach ( ... AFV4)

    Highlights: Seeing the bighorns up close, seeing the speckled rattler, and seeing the baja california treefrog

    Lowlights: Losing my lens cap and cracking my lens, higher gas prices, forgetting my sleeping bag.


    I went to Anza Borrego Desert State Park to mainly get my bighorn sheep fix in for the year. Also, I'm taking my friend there next week for Spring Break and decided to scope out the area on the 2-days that I have off work, thus calling this my Pre-Spring Break Trip. The weather was great, but the first night, I camped near Joshua Tree and forgot my sleeping bag and was cold. Temps dropped to 51 degrees there. I also got a sore throat. :(

    Monday morning, I looked for sidewinders hard by combing the flats and flipping everything in sight. I only saw a scorpion. I then started flipping trash near the agricultural areas and found, what appeared to be, a dead desert iguana. It was stiff, but when I took it out of the water, it started to show some life and opened its eyes, thus making it my first caught desert iguana of the year. I later returned to where I placed it and it was gone, so hopefully it was doing well.

    I flipped a few more lizards and found a very skinny iguana that did not run from me at all. I don't think this one was going to make it. I assume that it did not eat well prior to hibernation.

    I hit Anza Borrego and combed the desert looking for more sidewinders and found nothing and ended up cracking my camera lens. I went to the mountain tops to look for boas and rattlers and later ran into my bighorn sheep near Palm Canyon. These bighorn looked younger than the ones that I saw last year.

    On Day 2: I combed the terrain and found a speckled rattler. I was pressed for time and had to hit the road soon. I did a little birding as well and took many wildflower pics, but only because I was not finding any snakes or lizards at the time. I normally don't care about photographing flowers, but they are cool to see in person.

    Anyway, I'll return to Anza Borrego with my friend next week and will hopefully see some sidewinders and other stuff. Hopefully, more snakes will be moving about. So far, it's bee a slow year for me looking for snakes, but a great year for me finding other animals. The wildflower show, if you into that, was fantastic at Anza Borrego. I'm sure it'll be at its peak soon.
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    La Jolla CA - Nov2014
    La Jolla CA - November 2014

    Kimpton Hotel, La Jolla CA

    Dogs are allowed at La Jolla Shores beach outside the hours of 9am to 4pm (winter hours Nov 1st thru Mar 31st) and outside 9am to 6pm otherwise. Confirmed by Kimpton Hotels. This is a redux visit after our March 2014 trek :next: , this time for 4 days and 3 nights.

    Day 1 - Sunday November 23rd, 2014
    FitBit totals = 5.29 miles, 80 AEG (8 floors)

    On the road by 8am and stopped for an early lunch at the Yuma Burger King. Arrived at our "dog friendly" base-camp at the La Jolla Shores Kimpton Hotel :next: (I'm becoming partial to this eclectic collection of hotels, a nice alternative to my global business choice of Marriott Hotels...). This is a nice alternative to our usual La Jolla "base-camp" at the historic Grande Colonial Hotel :next: and After checking into room 908 and enjoying some of the ocean views from our hotel room balcony, we decided to take in the setting sun from our balcony view...

    Day 2 - Monday November 24th, 2014
    FitBit totals = 5.50 miles, 40 AEG (4 floors)

    Lynn went for a dawn jog along La Jolla Shores Beach while I took the dogs. Headed over to La Jolla Village and Cove waterfront and poked around the tide pools with low tide peaking at about 3:30pm. Sundown/evening walk along La Jolla Shores Beach...

    Day 3 - Tuesday November 25th, 2014
    FitBit totals = 5.67 miles, 80 AEG (8 floors)

    Lynn went for another dawn jog along La Jolla Shores Beach. I met up with Navin Govind, CEO of Aventyn, at the local Starbucks for a lunch time discussion :next: Burger King run to the Mission Beach district followed by a stroll along the Mission Beach walk/bike way. Waited until "dog time on beach" (that would be 4pm) to take in the sunset along La Jolla Shores Beach. Must have seen about half a dozen pro photographers out taking portraits of clients in the golden hour while using the surf and Scripps Pier as backdrop.

    Day 4 - Wednesday November 26th, 2014
    FitBit totals = 4.15 miles, 120 AEG (12 floors)

    Lynn went for another daybreak run along the waterfront. Took advantage of the noon-time check out before taking a scenic route back via Anza-Borrego Springs.
    Backroad route :next:
    CA52 east to Santee
    CA67 north to Lakeside and further north to Ramona
    CA78 east to Santa Ysabel
    CA79 north to S2 (San Filipe Rd)
    S2 east to S22 (Montezuma Valley - Borrego Hwy) to Borrego Springs Anza Borrego Desert State Park :next:
    S22 from Borrego Springs (Borrego - Salton Seaway) to CA86 at Salton City
    CA86 south to Brawley
    CA76 and CA111 south to join onto I-8 at El Centro
    Hiked a bit of the CRHT/Jasper Trail where it crosses S22 (Montezuma Valley Road). This area has had a burn in recent years. Interesting views of the Imperial Valley and distant Salton Sea from this trail as it follows a ridgeline. Dropped by the ABDSP Head Quarters in Borrego Springs gathering some beta for a future trek…

    20.61 miles, 320 AEG
    135 images on iPhone 5S
    86 images on Canon 6D
    0 images on Canon 7D
    0 images on Canon Rebel XT

    1. La Jolla Shores to Torrey Pines Beach Trail :next:
    2. La Jolla Coast Walk Trail :next:
    3. La Jolla Bay to Nicholson Point Walk :next:
    4. Mission Beach Walk :next:
    5. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park :next:
    6. California Riding & Hiking Trail (CRHT) :next: ... 2/crht.htm (not the Joshua Tree NP hike :next: ) and ... rings.html
    7. Jasper Trail :next:

    Sent from my iPad
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Dana Point Whale Watching Trek - Feb2013
    Dana Point CA Whale Watching Feb2013

    Dana Point CA makes the claim of being "the whale watching capital of the west" (check out => ) and plays host to an annual "Festival of Whales" the first two weekends of March => . For my wife's birthday present, we decided to select a 4-day weekend and cash in a bunch of my Marriott Rewards points to go whale watching...

    Friday 2/1 - Arrived at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort (check out => ) just before 3pm, beating the dreaded L.A. rush hour traffic. After checking into room 3031, Lynn and I had time to explore Dana Point Harbour (check out => ), Lantern Bay Park (check out => ) and the sun setting into the Pacific Ocean as viewed from Doheny State Beach (check out => ). 5.06 miles logged on iPhone Trimble Outdoors Navigator app.

    Saturday 2/2 - We booked a mid-day whale watching tour aboard the Dana Pride (check out => and ... ching.html ). With the early morning tour unloading at the Dana Harbour Wharf after having registered a big goose egg for whale sightings, Lynn and I boarded the 95 foot vessel with fingers crossed. I remembered my Thursday fortune cookie from P.F.Chang's indicating; "Nature has a gift for you", while staring at a couple of seagulls passing overhead. First destination for the Dana Pride was a large marker buoy laden with about a dozen sea lions. The boat headed north towards Laguna Beach when a radio call indicated there's been a whale sighting near the marker buoy we just left behind. A quick 180 and a full throttle burst back to the marker buoy to capture our first whale sighting - a lazy baleen whale sticking its nose up with some blow-hole action - thought to be a gray whale. With our ship captain getting annoyed at the gathering of boats positioning themselves illegally in the oncoming path of a migrating whale, he moves on towards the mouth of Dana Point Harbour where he thought he saw a "whale footprint". We are soon rewarded with a gray whale putting on a show with multiple breaches (apparently a rare maneuver for a gray whale, but common for humpback whales). I know I captured some images of the breaches - hope something turns out! 3.82 miles logged on iPhone Trimble Outdoors Navigator app.

    Sunday 2/3 - Morning plans to check out the Ocean Institute (check out => and ) and afternoon plans to check out the San Juan Capistrano Mission (check out => and ). The trails from the Ocean Institute take you to some interesting tide pools near the Laguna Cliffs and Dana Point Marine Life Refuge. Took in some stellar views from the top of the bluff at the Dana Point Marine Life Refuge walking trails. We also checked out Heritage Park (see => ) and nearby Bluff Top Trail (see => ) on the walk back to the Laguna Cliffs Resort. 11.64 miles logged on iPhone Trimble Outdoors Navigator app. Sat back at the Laguna Cliffs Resort taking in the sunset, looking out on the water for whales, and downing a couple of Sam Adams while listening to the Super Bowl in the background...

    Monday 2/4 - Morning plans for one last tour around Lantern Bay Park (check out => ) and Doheny State Beach (check out => ). 5.55 miles logged on the iPhone app before checking out of the Laguna Cliffs Resort. Also a San Juan Capistrano Mission (check out => and ) redux prior to hitting the road mid-day for the trek back to Phoenix via CA78 through the Anza Borrego (see => ) and the Salton Sea (see => ).

    Excellent time by the sea! Surprised by the 4-day weekend mileage at 26.07 miles logged (5.06+3.82+11.64+5.55). Photos (360 images to sort through - yikes!) to be posted when I get the chance...
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Sunday Feb 5th - "The REAL Indian Hill Rock Art Site" - Ken whips up a camp morning meal of breakfast burritos. It's soon time to break camp and head over to the rock art sites (armed with some tips courtesy of Hank Luke aka Grasshopper). We meet a couple from the Sierra Club at the REAL Indian Hill that point out the alcove and the cave and the fertility rite area (Yonis). Lunch at the Lazy Lizard in Ocotillo and we're on the road home...

    Check out the rest of the story =>

    Need Rob's SPOT track for our modified route details and still sorting through 250+ images from this weekend trek...

    Also check out => ... ego_IH.htm and and and for some background info.
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Anza Borrego Feb2012 - Goat Canyon Trestle & Indian Hill

    Prelude - From my "boyhood affinity with trains", I've always had an awareness of the Goat Canyon Trestle (just Google "GOAT CANYON TRESTLE" and see what you get). With a recent HAZ Forum thread targeting the nearby Carrizo Gorge (check out => viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6639&start=0&hilit=carrizo ), and a non-HAZ posted hike description (check out => ), my interest was piqued to go explore the "Impossible Railway" in the Anza Borrego. The Goat Canyon trestle was built in 1932 after an earthquake collapsed one of the tunnels of the Carrizo Gorge section of the San Diego and Arizona Railway. At 200 feet tall and 750 feet long, it remains to this day the longest, tallest curved wooden trestle ever built in the United States.

    Friday Feb 3rd - "Establishing Base Camp at Mortero Palms Trail Head" - With our weekend itinerary set (check out => viewtopic.php?f=4&t=6639&hilit=carrizo&start=20#p78510 ), Clark Norgaard and I checked out from work noon-ish. I make the side trek to Casa Grande to pick up Rob Gay while Clark makes a side trek to Ahwatukee to pick up Ken Schopen. We rendezvous at the Gila Bend McDonald's two-ish and our race red F-150 and red Ford Expedition form a convoy heading west along the I-8. We exit the I-8 at the Imperial Highway turn-off in Ocotillo CA (check out => PHOTO #26 link goes here...). About 8 miles along the Imperial Highway, just past the Border Patrol check point; you will find a kiosk and sign indicating "Mortero Wash" (check out => PHOTO #25 link goes here...). It's a 4WD from here to the trail head. About 4 miles from the Imperial Highway you reach the railway tracks and water tower at the Dos Cabezas ghost town. We stop to strategically place some rocks to improvise a rail crossing grade. Onto the Mortero Palms trail head where we set up camp in the glow of our headlights. An almost-full moon rises to supplement our field lighting. I'm on dinner duty - camp dinner menu includes choice beverages, BBQ steaks, corn-on-the-cob, gherkin pickles, grilled mushrooms and onions. We have a cozy camp fire and complete solitude - no evidence of any other campers in our corner of the Anza Borrego tonight. Somebody points out that the time is after midnight...

    Saturday Feb 4th - "Mortero Palms to Goat Canyon Trestle with Return Via the Tracks" - At sun-up Clark prepares a camp breakfast of fresh perked coffee, bacon and scrambled eggs. We organize our packs and consult our maps (check out => PHOTO #24 link goes here...) one last time before tackling our convoluted trail. Any doubt we are at the wrong location is allayed when I find a trail marker labeled "MORTERO PALMS". Paying heed to our trail notes;

    "One of the most critical parts of this hike is getting started up the correct canyon. There is a choice of two main washes each of which split into multiple possible routes. The correct wash is NORTH-WEST with an immediate turn to the WEST. It is tempting to take the South-West wash, which will also get you there, but adds about 0.75 miles to the trek."

    We manage to find multiple cairns along our route giving us some assurance that we are on the right path. As we amble into the palm oasis, we are somewhat awestruck and reassured we're on the correct path. Again, paying heed to our trail notes;

    "It is possible to exit the palm grove to the right or left. To the right is a water chute that can run strong in the spring months. It is climbable and the most direct route up."

    We make this our chosen path. There are plenty of options, all very climbable... The path is fairly obvious and well cairned taking you to the crest. At the crest we once again pay heed to our trail notes;

    "Probably the trickiest part of the hike is route finding along the relatively flat section between Mortero Canyon and Goat Canyon. Mortero Canyon peters out at the 1.5 mile mark and becomes a rolling desert meadow lined with cholla, barrel cactus, agave, ocotillo and cat claw. There are several possible routes to Goat Canyon, but the best one tends to the right and bypasses the beginning of Goat Canyon. Again, the best advice is to find the most well-worn trail and stick to it."

    We listen to this "best advice" and stick to the well-cairned, obvious trail. Soon we are descending into Goat Canyon as the side walls begin to box up. There are multiple pour-offs with work-around on either side. As the trestle comes into view, our jaws drop - it is stunning! The 35 foot dry waterfall is also dropping our jaws - so we consult our trail notes once again;

    "This first glimpse occurs at a particularly steep and tall drop-off, some 300 yards from the trestle. On first inspection, it appears you can't get there from here. However, you can make it by climbing to the left, then dropping into the scree-choked canyon below."

    As we contour over to the left, an obvious path down the scree chute comes into view. A little bum surfing and we're at the trestle! There's a group of about 10 people at the Goat Canyon Trestle on this Saturday about lunch time. We find out that they are all from a San Diego area motorcycle club out on a day trip. They've hiked the 5 or 6 miles along the tracks starting from the I-8 near the town of Jacumba. One of their photographers obliges me and takes a group shot of us with my wide-angle lens camera. We cross the trestle and the tunnel to go check out the earthquake collapsed tunnel (the reason for building the trestle by-pass in the 1932). On our return crossing of the trestle we note that each one of the columns is from a single redwood tree. That's more than 175 feet for some of the column members! The return route north along the tracks starts at about mile marker 102 and ends near mile marker 109 at the Dos Cabezas water tower. The route is filled with eye-candy including train wrecks, smaller trestles, multiple tunnels, palm oases, and railroad artifacts.

    Rob posted his SPOT Track on HAZ =>
    1,735 AEG and 10.62 miles later (check out => PHOTO #01 link goes here...), we bum a ride to our base camp from San Diego Aaron and his dog Tula. They were checking out the water tower at Dos Cabezas when we ambled by. We negotiate a ride in the bed of his F-150 in exchange for a couple of choice beverages back at the Mortero Palms TH. As the sun sets, temperatures plummet from 71degF to 40degF in about 30 minutes! That camp fire keeps our conditions perfect while Ken whips up a camp dinner of BBQ burgers with jalapenos. That night I get a weeks' worth of sleep - nothing like some fresh air and a little bit of exercise to promote some zzz's! SIDE NOTE: We had to perform emergency surgery on Ken to remove an embedded tick at his waist line - WTF? Not something we expected to come across on a desert trek - always associated ticks as long grass residents =>

    Sunday Feb 5th - "The REAL Indian Hill Rock Art Site" - Ken whips up a camp morning meal of breakfast burritos. It's soon time to break camp and head over to the rock art sites (armed with some tips courtesy of Hank Luke aka Grasshopper). We meet a couple from the Sierra Club at the REAL Indian Hill that point out the alcove and the cave and the fertility rite area. Lunch at the Lazy Lizard in Ocotillo and we're on the road home... Check out the rest of the story at =>

    Denouement - It's almost unimaginable to think that this rail line was re-opened in 2004 and trains actually ran until 2007 (check out => and and ... ata_player ). Also need to get a portable metal camp fire set-up for future back country adventures. Photos and Hike Description to follow...
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Last time I was here, I hiked this Panaramic Overlook trail but was curious how difficult a full ascent of San Ysidro Mt was. :-k I picked up that book "Afoot & Afield in San Diego County' and now here I am back armed with better hiking beta & maps and plenty of Gu. :sweat: The route is pretty much straight up that ridge from the Borrego Springs campground up to the eastern peak of the San Ysidro ridgeline. Loads of cactus & rocks to dodge while ascending a 45* slope but nothing too difficult. : rambo : The views were absolutely amazing the whole way up with the Borrego Valley below, Salton Sea in the distance, Borrego Canyon off to the side, and snowy San Jacinto & Santa Rosa Mt off to the north. One of the 'easiest' 4000ft climbs I've yet to do and I barely touched my water probably due to the cool temps & gently breeze. 8) Once on the very top, the wind picked up a bit and I had to throw on more layers on and there was actually a fair amount of snow & ice above 5000ft esp on the northside. Running back down the sandy/rocky ridge was much quicker and before I knew it I was back in town grabbing a burger at the local pub. Not a bad way to finish off another amazing year of hiking! :D
    Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Just 300 miles SW of Phoenix,AZ, in Southeastern CA is this largest state park in the continental USA! Before moving to AZ in 2004, I lived in North Inland San Diego County for 12 years, just a 1 hour and 30 minute drive from this most diverse desert state park. I explored this vast 600,000 acre park over this 12 year period, enjoying endless remote camping, hiking, and 4x4ing opportunities.

    Last August'07 I was asked by some of my AZ friends who were interested in visiting ABDSP for the first time, if I would plan and lead a trip back. In Sept'07, I decided that it would be a great idea to revisit and "relive great memories" of many of my favorite spots and also have an opportunity to introduce others in a 10 day trip to what it took me 12 years to discover in this huge CA desert state park.

    Camping: 2/26 to 3/4 at Borrego Palm Canyon Campground in Borrego Springs, CA;
    Camping: 3/4 to 3/6 at Agua Caliente County Park off Hwy S-2(21mls South of Scissors Crossing & 26mls North of I-8 from Ocotillo,CA);

    Here is what I planned and what five of us enjoyed on our 10 day stay at ABDSP:
    (from 2/26/08 thru 3/6/08..with the 1st & last day being driving & camp set-up/down days);

    Just a little background & some comments before details of our 8 full day outings:
    Due to the sheer size of this huge park(600,000 acres extending into three CA counties- San Diego, Riverside, & Imperial), once you complete seeing all the "lookie-lou" things that one should plan to see on a first trip here, it then takes a while to drive from point A to point B and back to do some of the many enjoyable & more remote day trips. For this reason & to get your money's worth, I would suggest planning at least 4-5 full days here. For this period, a reliable, high-clearance vehicle(truck/SUV) is recommended with 4-wheel drive preferred. For my 10 day trip I underestimated our vehicle capability needs but it all worked out fine in the end (Last year in ABDSP they measured a total of .75inches of rain for the entire year period. For this measured year period through Feb'08, they measured 4.75inches of rain..this additional rain amount did a real number on some of the more dicey off road areas which made for a few "white knuckle moments" for some of my less experienced off-road drivers). Our main base camp at Borrego Springs,CA, was at an altitude of 780ft & our day trips ranged from an altitude of close to sea level to not higher than 3500ft. Regarding the weather for our trip, it could not have been better. The days were all sunny, with little wind, no rain, and day temps ranging from highs in the 70's to low 80's and low night temps between 47F to 41F. We used two 4-wheel drive vehicles for our day outings: My highly modified '92YJ Wrangler & a stock 2007 Nissan Xterra. Also, I want to apologize now for not taking a camera to capture in pics what I can only express here in words. There were a million "Kodak moments" on this trip, and there were many pics taken by my trip friends, but none to post on HAZ by me.

    Day#2(2/27)- This was "get acquainted with the local area day": First we hiked the .6ml path from our campground to the ABDSP Headquarters & Visitor Center where we then walked the .5ml path(the Indian Nature Tr) around the Visitor Center to view labeled examples of many local ABDSP flora which included nice wildflower viewing too!; then we went inside to view a 20 minute video on the origin/history of the park; then of course we had to buy books, maps, DVD's, and tee-shirts, etc..; then we hiked the .6ml path back to the campground which include another nice area for wildflower viewing; then after lunch, we hiked the scenic 3ml R/T Borrego Palm Canyon to the popular stopping point at a perennial oasis with numerous Washington Palm Groves; then about half-way back to the TH, we were the lucky ones to see not just 1 but 6 male Rams- Big Horn Sheep perched on a rock ledge outcropping just above us posing for pics!!! First time in my years of hiking in this park that I had ever seen a live, BIG HORN SHEEP, and here were 6 large horned, 5-6yr old Rams not more than 30 yards away from us..a very special moment indeed!(we talked to a park ranger who was hiking this trail with us who noted that the month of late Feb into March is the birthing season for the females, so she was hiking the area to try to locate some of the females up this vast canyon; I asked her how many total Big Horn Sheep they now estimated were in the extended park and she said approx 300); We ended this day with a wonderful group dinner out at an excellent restaurant-Assaggio Ristorante Italiano located next to the local Borrego Springs airport; Not a bad start for our first full day out!

    Day#3(2/28)- "Slot Canyon hike & visit to historic World War II Calcite Mines" in the NE part of ABDSP-East on Hwy S-22(at MP38.2) not far from the Salton Sea:
    During the early 1940's, a very high quality grade of Calcite was discovered here, mined for only a couple of years during World War II. The "high grade optics & clarity" of this mined mineral was such that it could be used in the bombing site mechanisms on our U.S. Airforce bombers like the B-29. This 2nd day we took a 4x4 drive into this more desolate(little vegetation, mostly mud hills & rock slot canyons) area of ABDSP. Because of the rough, very narrow, & up hill climb on this old mining road that ends 2.5mls in at this Calcite mining area, I decided that we would only drive about 1ml in, park, then hike the rest of the way to this mining area and back. Also, about 1.5mls up this same road from S-22, is truly one of the best ~.5ml in/out "slot canyon" hikes in this entire park(kind-of a much shorter version of our AZ Antelope Canyon, but not quite!). We first hiked this enjoyable & much cooler slot canyon, then headed up the road on foot to its end at a high point where the old calcite mine holes were trenched-into the mud hills. Here we had lunch with a nice 180 degree view of near and distant sections of ABDSP & the Salton Sea, and for those of you who are familiar with this area, we had a good pic opportunity just above us of Locomotive Rock(looks like a chu-chu train engine) and the surrounding Wind Caves. On our drive back out on this mining road, we took a more scenic loop route by going down into Palm Wash & after a few miles then looping right & back around an unnamed spur wash to the Calcite Mine Road. This little loop trip turned-out to be a real winner for Spring Wildflower pics!! On our way back to Borrego Springs on Hwy S22, we took both the off road trips to "Fonts Point" 3mls in & to "Inspiration Point" 4.5mls in for excellent near & distant views of what is called the Anza-Borrego BAD LANDS(mile after mile of mud hills ranging in age from 800,000 to 40 million years old(so the sign says!). We met some local residents at "Inspiration Point"(trying to get away from tourists like us) who were very nice to next direct us to "Henderson Canyon Road" (just outside of Borrego Springs) where all the Spring wildflowers were in full bloom! I had to leave my group here due to their need for an extended picture taking session as I just could not get them to leave! Later, we all shared a huge Trader Joe's quality ordure's dinner together at our campground with a nice cozy campfire and a bright starry night sky for entertainment..

    Day#4(2/29)- "Coyote Canyon 4x4 up the Turkey Tracks then thru Collins Valley to hike into Cougar & Sheep Canyons": This lush, scenic, & very remote canyon area of ABDSP is without a doubt, my favorite spot for primitive camping, hiking, and for sheer mystical solitude! It has it all: thick desert vegetation, rugged & scenic Cougar, Indian, & Sheep Canyons all with perennial creeks running, waterfalls, big horn sheep habitat, sycamores, cottonwoods, numerous Washington Palm Oasis', and much Native American history. All three of these mostly off-trail popular but very rugged hiking canyons have their upper source at Los Coyotes Indian Reservation and their lower ending source here. When I was an active backpacker, I use to hike to these canyons from what is called Lower Willows water crossing(on the maps this is called the 3rd water crossing). This was as far up Coyote Canyon as one sane person with a stock vehicle could safely drive. From here it was another 3.75ml one way hike to the entrance for Sheep Canyon, and an additional 1.25ml hike to the mouths of Cougar & Indian Canyons. In 1995 while still living in CA, I was finally able to purchase my present '92Jeep Wrangler, but I had to spend some serious 4x4 modification money on it to be able to safely negotiate what is known above as the "Turkey Tracks" which is a serious to very serious(changes fm year to year) three-tiered .75mi large rocky, rutted road with step sections to negotiate, starting just past the Lower Willows water crossing area & continuing to the beginning of the 3mi drive through sandy Collins Valley. For this 2/29 trip, we parked the Nissan Xterra at Lower Willows (which to this point is a ~5.5ml off road drive into Coyote Canyon), and everone but me started hiking at this point. I had never seen the "Turkey Tracks" so technical to drive as it was this trip(probably due to the 4.75" of rain this winter), but I needed ALL I had on my '92YJ to safely make it over & later back down this 4x4 w/front & back lockers, 35"x12.50 tires(for you mechanical types, my low range 1st gear is "118 to 1" and if I had had it, I could have used lower for some parts of this .75ml section!). After I topped out, my four hikers hopped in my 2 seater Jeep, and we headed out across the 3ml stretch of Collins Valley, first for a lunch hike into the mouth of Cougar Canyon where we stopped at a waterfall area with a nice grove of Washington Palms as our backdrop, then we hiked out and over to the mouth of Sheep Canyon for a nice view up this canyon of some large groves of Washington Palms. It took us a while to drive out, but needless to say, there was not another vehicle in sight during our entire stay here on this busy Friday-Spring Wildflower Viewing Day until we arrived back at the Lower Willows water crossing...SWEET IT WAS having so much privacy in this very special spot of ABDSP!

    Note: See HAZ- Hoffmaster's ABDSP pic album, dated 12/22/07: ... 8&TNI=1304

    Day#5(3/1)- "Rockhouse Canyon off road trip with Hikes up Rockhouse Canyon to Hidden Springs, then up to Jackass Flats, & a hike over to an Ancient Native American Winter Home Site": This 15 mile off-road day trip up Rockhouse Canyon proved to be another wonderful Spring Wildflower tour as well as a very scenic, but slow and tricky 4x4 drive to the Canyon's road end with great views along the drive of Clark Dry Lake, Villager Peak, Rabbit Peak, and dominant Toro Peak to the North in the Santa Rosa Mtn Range. On this drive, we "broke-in" my friend Kevin from Canada with his new '07 Nissan Xterra 4x4. Once we arrived at the road intersection with Butler Canyon/Rockhouse Canyon(about 12mls in), the high-clearance only changed to 4x4 & high clearance only! The next 3mls were fun, but a slow process, with me stopping to need to "spot" Kevin over numerous rough, rocky areas, but he later felt good that he had learned a lot on his first real 4x4 trip with his new Xterra. Our short .5ml hike to Hidden Springs was pretty uneventful as the Springs really isn't anymore. During the time when the Native American's inhabited this area, I am sure this Hidden Springs was a sure source of reliable water, but now it is simply overgrown with high grass with no obvious wetness and only a sign indicating its location. From Hidden Springs is a very faint hiking trail(probably used by the NA's) that goes up the West Ridgeline about 250ft & .35ml to a huge Flats know as Jackass Flats. Within the perimeters of this large flats are a number of Ancient Native American Winter Home Sites. I have previously located two sites in Jackass Flats(one published and one unpublished). I took the group along the North Ridgeline for .25ml to the closer published Site. In this area, we saw numerous Morteros, Rock Slicks, and Pottery Shards. There were no visible signs of any ancient resident dwelling in this site area. After having a lunch break in this area with what I do believe was the highest concentraction of Ocotillo I have ever seen in one area, we reversed our route and headed back to our Borrego Springs basecamp to relax and regroup for our upcoming Day Outing#6!

    Day#6(3/2)- AM: "Alcholic Pass Trail Hike; PM: Road Trip to the historic & popular mountain town of Julian,CA": This morning we planned a short(2 hr), but fun exercise hike on the "Alcoholic Pass Trail" which is located about 2.5mls up Coyote Canyon Rd. This ~1.5ml one way hike with a 500' gain to the pass high point would help to set us up for our afternoon trip to Julian, CA, for a planned dinner-out with fresh apple pie for desert(one thing that Julian is most known for). Some history of the Alcoholic Pass TR:
    "it was originally a Cahuilla Indian trail. The route offers access from villages along Coyote Creek to sheep country, particularly in the high ground south of the pass. There are places beside the pass where hunting parties could have camped. It is possible to see sheep tracks or even sheep here. The Alcoholic Pass route also offered the Cahuilla quick access to the mesquite that grew (and grows) so abundantly around what today is Clark Dry Lake(on the other side of the pass). Mesquite was a vital food source and mesquite beans could have been taken to the Cahuilla near the Salton Sea and traded for fish". Hiking up this trail, there are some great views looking back (south) along Coyote Canyon at all the large & numerous citrus groves(orange and grapefruit) that are grown in this Borrego Springs area. After our hike, heading back into town, I stopped at a local grove-fruit stand and I purchased a huge bag of fresh oranges for $3.00 only...they were very sweet & juicy and lasted me the rest of the trip.
    After cleaning up, early afternoon we departed from our Borrego Palm Canyon Campground for Julian, CA. We took the scenic loop route by first going up the switch-back climb on Montezuma Grade(Hwy S-22) to Hwy S-2 down Grapevine Valley to Sissors Crossing(at 2k') on Hwy 78 then up the switch-back Banner Grade to the beautiful & historic mountain town of Julian, CA at 4800' in the pine and oak trees. Some history of Julian,CA: Julian was founded in the mid 1800's as a very active gold mining town and apple orchard growing area. When the gold rush ended, the apple orchards continued and prospered. Today, Julian is still famous for growing apples and for its fresh apple pies which are sold locally and shipped all over southern CA. Also, today Julian is known as the "Bed and Breakfast" capital of Southern CA. With its higher elevation at 4800', it is a nice weekend escape from hotter summer temps and/or a nice retreat for those who enjoy a little winter fun with snow during the colder months. The one main street in Julian is always busy with many local merchant gift shops selling everything imaginable, which of course includes fresh apple pies and fresh apple cider too! After roaming in and out of numerous gift shops we bought a fresh Julian Apple Pie for desert to have back at our campsite later that evening. We decided on a local Bar-B-Que Restaurant for dinner in Julian before heading back to Borrego Springs. Another fun and enjoyable day we had and topped it off that evening with a slice of fresh Julian apple pie and vanilla ice cream around a roaring campfire.. SWEET IT WAS!

    Day#7(3/3)- "Day outing to BLAIR VALLEY(2500'elev)- Hike to the old Marshall South Homestead at Yaquitepec(Indian for Ghost Mtn.); Hike on Morteros Tr to view Ancient Kumeyaay Indian Winter Campsite with numerous MORTEROS; Hike down Pictograph Tr; Hike to 50ft dry waterfall drop-off to view into Smuggler Canyon": For all these areas we visited, the above caption descriptions kind-of speak for themselves as to what we did except for the old Marshall South Homestead at Ghost Mountain. In my opinion, this is really the "highlight" reason to visit Blair Valley- Back in the time of the Great Depression of 1932, this eccentric & rugged idealist named Marshall South convinced his wife(Tanya) to move to this remote desert mountain top(3200')to persue a simple back-to-nature lifestyle. His plan was to be completely self-sufficient by growing vegetables and the such to truck via Model-T Ford to the local markets in Julian, CA, to make enough money to continue to maintain the old homestead for the long term. The hiking path from the bottom to the large rocky mountain top is about 1.3mls one way and 700' elevation gain. Once they trucked their needed store bought goods to the bottom, they had to hoof-it-up to the mountain top. The family consisted of Marshall South, this wife, one dauthter, and two sons. They build an abobe style home, a pretty ingenious water collection system, and utilized the few flat areas for vegetable gardens. The Old Homestead is now almost completely down to the foundation with only one partial wall standing, an old metal bed, a partially intact sun dial, and some parts of the old brick fireplace & cooking area. A lot of the old water collection system is still there to observe. He did use cement to seal this water collection system. It must have been a real exercise to haul that cement up the hiking trail to the top, but I suppose they might have had a mule or horse on the property to help. His wife Tanya lasted up there with him for sixteen years where they raised their four kids, after which having had enough of that lifestyle, Tanya took the kids and bid ado! History has it that soon after, Marshall South finally gave up and headed South :lol:..leaving their years of hard labor & home at Ghost Mountain to the sun and the wind.

    Day#8(3/4)- Goodbye breakfast at wonderful "Kendall's Cafe" in Borrego Springs for my four guests who needed to head back home to AZ this day; I am now headed for my 2nd campground at "Agua Caliente County Park" for an evening in their wonderful "hot mineral-spring fed" indoor therapy pool before my final and very special day outing #8 on day #9!

    Day#9(3/5)- "Indian Hill" cross-country day hike, then to the "Old WW-I Railroad Camp" via cross-country, then to the "Old WW-I San Diego & Arizona RR" via cross-country; then shame :-$ shame I did an illegal "hike down these San Diego & Arizona RR Tracks"(through two original Carrizo Gorge-RR wooden tunnels), to hike a loop back to my vehicle at the TH parking area; then a "drive & short hike into Mortero Palms Canyon"; then a final drive and short hike at the end of Piedras Grandes Wash"

    Day#10(3/6)- "Time to departed Agua Caliente County Park Campground for home" :( ..

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