Scheduled Hikes for 2009

   Mountain Palm Springs - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Date:   January 18, 2009  09:00 AM -  05:00 PM
Hike Group:   San Diego Trail Tramps
Info. URL:   None
Location:   Anza Borrego Desert State Park

 Description:  See Area D-11: Bow Willow/In-Ko-Pah Mountains, Trip 3, Mountain Palm Springs, in Schad's book "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" (c '98, pp. 330-331, map on p. 327) for hike details. * degree of difficulty out of a possible *****. 2.5-3.5 miles roundtrip hike. Elevation gain/loss is about 350'. Check our maps section for directions and a map to the area.

The Mountain Palm Springs area (not to be confused with Palm Springs, CA), in the southern part of the Anza Borrego Desert, has a unique and wonderful collection of 5 oases: Pygmy Grove, Southwest Grove, Palm Bowl Grove, Surprise Grove and North Grove. The palms here grow in dense clusters, often with pools of water at their feet. Many of them still hold full skirts of dead fronds around their trunks, which serve the local population of rodents and snakes. In late fall and early winter, the sticky, sweet fruit of the palms hangs in great swaying clusters, sought after by birds and coyotes that prowl up and down the washes. Water lies close to the surface in several of the ravines and a primitive camping area sits on the alluvial fan just below the point where the washes come together. A short dirt road leads to this campground from mile 47.1 on Highway S-2.

To begin the hike, we'll walk up the small canyon southwest of the primitive campground. Just past where water seeps up through the ground, we'll arrive at Pygmy Grove. From there we'll head up the trail to Southwest Grove, a good sized palm grove with a rock-lined catch basin beneath the trees, created for the benefit of the local wildlife.

After a brief break there, we'll pick up a well-worn, but obscure trail that leads north over a rock-strewn ridge to Surprise Canyon Grove in Surprise Canyon. Up the canyon from this small grove lies Palm Bowl, filled with tangled patches of mesquite and fringed on its western edge by more than a hundred palms. This is a great place to take a lunch break and soak in the ambiance of the palm grove amid huge boulders.

To conclude the loop hike, we'll return to Surprise Canyon Grove and continue down-canyon to the campground. On the way back, see if you can spot North Grove, hidden in a side drainage on the left.

Directions from San Diego to Mt. Palm Springs:

Drive time is about 1.5 - 2 hrs. from San Diego. Take I-8 East out to Ocotillo, then head north on Highway S-2 into the Anza Borrego Desert State Park. Go past the Carrizo Badlands/Canyon Sin Nombre turnout on the right at mile 51.3 (Highway S-2 mileposts count UP from north to south.)

Take the turnoff to the West at mile 47.1 and follow the short dirt road to the Mt. Palm Springs primitive camping area/parking lot. For those of you driving out there on your own to meet us, we'll meet there about 10:30-11 am and start the hike about 11 am.

It's a 2.5 - 3 mile roundtrip loop hike to four separate natural palm groves, with an elevation gain/loss of about 350'/350' and will take about 2 hrs. PLUS water and lunch breaks, for a total of about 4-4.5 hrs. More hike info. and maps can be found in Jerry Schad's book "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County" on pp. 330-341, c. 1998.

Click HERE for a photo gallery from our 2004 hike thru this unique area.

Palm Bowl Grove