Riding Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by OffWheelin, Apr 2, 2015.

  1. OffWheelin

    OffWheelin Adventurer

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    I spent a few days riding around Anza-Borrego with a friend. We stayed at the main campground near park headquarters in Borrego Springs and did loop rides from there. For those who don’t know, it is the largest state park in California with 500 miles of roads, most of them unpaved jeep trails. Majority are not difficult, except for the soft sand, but there are a few challenging sections particularly for the jeep crowd or larger ADV bikes. The park is in Southern California, in eastern San Diego County. Vehicles must be street legal on park trails. Adjacent Ocotillo Wells SRVA is an OHV area for the other off-roaders.

    FYI
    Anza = Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spanish explorer who traveled through this region in the 1770’s.
    Borrego = the Bighorn sheep that live in the park’s mountains and canyons.

    I never saw de Anza, but I saw this Bighorn while hiking in Borrego Palm Canyon
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    I highly recommend the area; it has a lot of interesting geological formations, plants and scenery. You can camp out or get a room in town. There are just enough services in Borrego Springs to find things you may have forgot at home. Besides the park, the Salton Sea is interesting to visit. Just be sure to follow the rules and stay on the marked trails so we can maintain the privilege of riding in this nice area.

    Near the visitor center looking east towards Borrego Springs and Fonts Point.
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    We did a few rides, but I will use one loop to illustrate.
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    Park Map
    http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/638/files/ABDSPmap.pdf

    We did this loop in a counterclockwise direction, leaving camp and heading up the hill on S22 to get to Culp Valley and the trailhead. Dave is on a KTM350, I ride a XR400. There are a few sections of pavement to connect the dirt sections. We rode through Culp Valley to Jasper trail, down the hill to Grapevine Canyon and then to 78.
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    Mountain lion tracks. I think I would rather ride than hike here.
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    Then a few paved miles to get to Pinion Mountain Trail.
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    Pinion Mountain trail is good fun and quite scenic as it drops in altitude down to Fish Creek
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    It is one of the difficult routes for jeeps, with rocky climbs and a narrow squeeze
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    Jeeps have more of a challenge than us
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    But we have our moments as well
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    Then there is a steep hill known as Heart Attack Hill.
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    I have been down Heart Attack a few times in 4x4s as well. It looks scary but is not that bad going down the left side. Motorcycles have an easier time. The rangers say it is dangerous, and I see it can be. Here is what can happen with a bad driver and bad spotter.

    not my photo:
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    Eventually you get to Fish Creek Wash which takes you out to the valley. There are several side canyons that can be explored.
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    Lunch break
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    Sandstone Canyon is a dead end but worth seeing
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    The Wind Caves, with Fish Creek Wash in the background, are a short hike
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    Hills of the Moon Wash is a legal trail, but it doesn't get much traffic. It is located in the badlands below Fonts Point.
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    The only fuel stations are in town. The loop was about a hundred miles, so it helps if you know the range of your bike in sand and hills. Dave thought he did but ran out near the end. Fuel injection is good, but not that good. I was able to get some fuel for him in town and return. He said it was pretty lonely waiting alone.
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    Back in town this 350’ long serpent is one of many odd metal sculptures that Dennis Avery (Avery Label family) put up around Borrego Springs.
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    Here are some more photos of the area.

    Fonts Point - looking west towards Borrego Springs
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    Dave pointing down at Rainbow Wash. He always wants to be riding.
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    Morning stretching in Inspiration Wash
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    Inspiration Point
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    Truckhaven Trail
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    Ocotillo Wells; a rare time with no people
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    San Felipe Wash runs through the park and through Ocotillo Wells
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    Rainbow Wash - another dead end trail below Fonts Point
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    Cacti
    Fish hook
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    Cholla and Ocotillo
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    Cholla - don't bump into these
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    There are a couple slot canyons in the area, this is in Palm Wash
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    17 Palms Oasis; There is also a 5 Palms and Una Palma
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    Pumpkin Patch - this is in Ocotillo Wells area
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    Controversial new wind farm at the south border of the park
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    One reminder, if you plan to ride there be ready for sand
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    When half the trail names contain the word "wash" it is going to be sandy.

    Well, that should give an idea of what there is to see in the desert at Anza-Borrego. I will submit this now and see if the post works right. Going through this exercise gives me more appreciation for all the others who post ride reports.
    Cheers,
    Kurtis
    #1
  2. Molonlabemike

    Molonlabemike Been here awhile

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    Great photos, i want to make a ride out there in the fall. Last time I was there in a 4x4 and can vouch for heart attack hill...you need a good spotter and a better driver.

    You would have the GPS file for your ride would you?
    #2
  3. outlaws

    outlaws Been here awhile

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    Nice RR. Lovely photo of the bighorn sheep up close.
    #3
  4. OffWheelin

    OffWheelin Adventurer

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    Thank you both for your comments.

    Regarding the GPS tracks, I am sorry I don't have any. I've just been using the maps and trail signs they have. It is pretty easy to get around there.

    However, I recently purchased an appropriate GPS and have been learning to create tracks in BaseCamp and to download my actual tracks. Next report should have GPS tracks.
    #4
  5. flei

    flei cycletherapist

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    Nice ride report and great pictures! I grew up in So. Cal. and love the desert. I really enjoyed spending time riding and hiking in the Anzo-Borrego Desert. It's an amazing place, and your report really does it justice.
    #5
  6. larryboy

    larryboy Stable genius.

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    Nice pics!! Reminds me that I need to get down there.
    #6
  7. Molonlabemike

    Molonlabemike Been here awhile

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    No worries, never hurts to ask. Looking forward to see more ride reports in the future. :freaky
    #7
  8. eaglescan

    eaglescan Borrego rocks

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    Thanks for the report. I spend Jan. & Feb. there. Rode everything you did, not all the same day though. Last trip, I rode with Kurt Roll from San Diego, an Expert trails rider. We went down & up Jasper , he was wearing shorts, and had his dog in a pouch on his chest!!!
    #8
  9. kickstandsup

    kickstandsup Devout Atheist Supporter

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    Nice post…we rode thru last weekend, pavement only tho… :freaky
    #9
  10. Gadjeep

    Gadjeep Adventurer

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    Great report man! I'm heading down with two friends on monday and we're going to do 7 days there. We go at this time every year but normally only for 3 days so we are going to get some serious riding in!

    If you want to get a real kick, try climbing Pinyon drop (Heartattack hill). We rode out there from split mountain road and were bingo on fuel so we went up it rather than turn back. It's a scary one but very satisfying! I'll try to get some decent pics and such for a report of my own in a couple weeks.

    Has anyone ridden out to Superstition mtn south east of Anza? We are going to do a loop that way as well.
    #10
  11. Scubalong

    Scubalong Long timer

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    Thanks for sharing RR, some of those trail look :eek1
    Great photos :thumb
    I miss San Diego :cry
    #11
  12. txplants

    txplants Pastafarian

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    Well done and your photos really capture the sights magnificently. Just a fantastic report all the way around. :clap
    #12
  13. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    One of the many beautiful natural wonders available to witness in the Southern California region. Terrific bighorn photo. Those views from the peaks look incredible. This is a perfect adventure ride destination.

    Maybe this will help motivate my friends to go ride it with me.
    #13
  14. Ryno041

    Ryno041 racer -> adventurer

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    Loved reading your report! How many miles you guys ride total? How far is that loop u posted? And what's the elevation? I'm thinking of taking dad out for a weekend ride there!
    #14
  15. OffWheelin

    OffWheelin Adventurer

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    The loop I showed was about 110 miles. Elevation in most of the area is low, even below sea level. The higher areas, like Jasper Trail, are 3-4,000 ft. If you go, I'm sure you will like it.
    #15
  16. OffWheelin

    OffWheelin Adventurer

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    I have ridden to and around Superstition many times. There is a lot to see in that area. The mountain itself is interesting, very rocky in some areas but covered in blow sand in others. On busy weekends lots of quads are there to climb the dunes. Usually it is empty. Most people get there from Plaster City. We always go there from the north.

    There are several routes, but this is the most direct way: There is a narrow gauge railroad from the south end of Split Mountain road that goes all the way to Plaster City on Interstate 8. It starts here 33.037159, -116.096653 The railroad takes gypsum from the mine to the drywall factory at Plaster City on I8. Hence the name.

    Eventually you get to the large trestle at Carrizo Wash 32.986516, -115.953435

    After a couple more miles you should start to see trails heading east to the mountain.

    There are two peaks you can get to that have structures. One has active communications towers, the other has an abandoned military radar station. Both have good views. The mountain is open riding, so have at it.

    Further south is Painted Gorge which is pretty cool. I think there is a seasonal closure for sheep though.

    Back to the trestle at Carrizo Wash. You can take the wash north and eventually get to Ocotillo Wells. You will see several trails crossing the wash as you go.

    You can take the wash south-west until it stops at the keep out signs for Carrizo Impact Area. At that point you can find the faint trail that climbs out of the wash and heads directly south following the border of the Impact Area. It ends up being a fun trail that takes you all the way to Painted Gorge and eventually Ocotillo (on I8). There is fuel and food there.
    Here is where the trail leaves the wash 32.900037, -115.968424

    You can make a good loop by continuing from Ocotillo north on S2 taking various trails (like Dos Cabezas and Mortero Canyon) to get to Canyon Sin Nombre. Take that trail to Arroyo Seco Del Diablo, down the Diablo Drop Off, and into Fish Creek which takes you back to pavement at the start of the railroad. The gas station at Ocotillo makes this all possible. It is probably a 100 mile loop without any side trips.

    That's a lot of words, but if you look at a map it should make sense.
    #16
  17. AllBlak

    AllBlak Been here awhile

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    Nice photos.
    I did Fish Creek, Sandstone, and Hills of the moon in an old SR-5 years ago.
    It was a lot of fun.
    There were some pretty cool descents in there as well.
    Thanks for the memory spur..
    #17