24 August 2013

Hiking on Anza-Borrego Desert

June 2013

Never been to desert, not to mention hiking on there. As there's a desert near by, decided to give a try, i.e what's it like to hike on a desert on a hot day.  Bit a of crazy idea though.

Less than two hours drive from San Diego, there's an Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. A short study of its map revealed there were multiple hiking paths on there. Even the Pacific Crest Trail crossed it.  On the edge of its boundaries there was something interesting, a palm oasis. A trail to it seemed to be short enough. Even the park Visitor Center was near by it. Target was set.

A road ascended via Julian, crossed mountains and started to descend on a plain of the desert. There were villages here and there. Wasn't so easy to imagine people used to live there.

Temperature showed +43C, like a hairdryer blowing towards your face from 30cm distance. There was no shade. Nowhere. Took the road towards Borrego Springs, a small census on the desert. There were some palm trees, a shopping mall, a golf course, hotels. Internet search told the city to be art oriented. Could come there at winter time. I bet night sky on there would be spectacular.

Arrived at the State Park Visitor Center. Stepping out from a car was already an experience. Noticed that the idea hiking there was more than crazy, even life dangerous.

Went quickly into a cool showroom. Chatted a while with really friendly staff and watched an introduction film about the desert state park around the year. Amazingly there used to snow at winter time. Staff told me it wasn't the hottest season yet, so more was to come. The film was very interesting, showing such a versatile life of animals and nature there through all seasons.

From the Visitor Center took a short drive to a Camping area, where the trail started. The trail was called Palm Canyon Trail.  It was a short loop to an oasis of palm trees with a small waterfall. At least so a brochure explain it.  The trail was not on a desert plain but started to ascend to the canyon within near naked and rocky mountains. Heat was evident, you couldn't escape it.

Brochure explained bighorn sheep used to live there. Disappointingly didn't see any of them, though 'believed' they were watching you all the time.

After an hour and a half hike started to see palm trees, like a small forest down in the canyon. Green colour and even some traces of water felt strange. Wondered the palm oasis a while. Pretty impressive trees, a small waterfall looked really nice in a naked and rocky canyon.

Drank more and more water. Exhausted feeling after such a short hike. Now it was descending trail back. Absolutely maximum distance to do in such a heat.

Surprisingly there were many species of birds flying around you. Possibly something to eat then, too.

After arriving back to the car, felt really tired.  A short hike on a desert was done.


Anza-Borrego desert

Straight on


Visitor Center

Starting point of the Palm Oasis Trail

A massive flood few years ago destroyed most of the palm trees 


Odd view, some green

More green, what on earth?

Palm oasis, in the middle of a naked canyon


A closer look at a palm tree

Fur of the palm trees

An odd view

There might be water, sometimes

Many plants on a desert looked nice

Camping ground, anyone wants to setup a fire on a grill?


  1. I think I would melt in 43C, but I would also give it a try if it was easily possible.

    1. Heavy rain there today. Fascinating place if one could ignore temperature.