A short, easy hike to view five tinajas (Spanish for water-filled basins), a rarity in such an arid environment. These pools, which contain water nearly year-round, are important for many different plants and animals and have supported people throughout history.
The hike begins at the trailhead located about a mile and a half west of the Sauceda visitor center, on the north side of the Main Road. A gradual rise to the north takes you to a decision point. Turning right (east) leads you up a small incline to an overview of the five pools. Otherwise, continue north/downhill to the creek. Upon reaching the creek take a right up the wash. Follow the wash until you reach the bottom pool.
On our outing we first went to the bottom pools, then back-tracked to the "decision point". From there we took a left (headed east) to see the upper pools from the overlook. From there we back-tracked about half-way to the "decision point" and then took a hard left and went in a southeast direction to arrive beside the top pool. From there we followed the wash (that leads to the pools) back to the parking area. Along the way back to the vehicle there are stone and cement walls and dams that previous ranchers had built.
While not a spectacular hike, it's a good place to have a quick stretch of the legs after driving hours (and hours!) to the park. It would also be a fun place to let youngsters explore (note that swimming is not allowed). I should also note that you can combine this hike with the Leyva Escondido Loop Trail. The Leyva trail, so the brochure says, is moderate-to-difficult due to deep sand and steep climbs. However, the Leyva trail takes you past an archaeological site with prehistoric pictographs.
Check out the Official Route.
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.