Friday, March 07, 2014

Cactus Monday- Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

Anza Borrego Desert State Park, San Diego County, CA
The hike:
     from the visitor center: 5.5 miles round trip, 600 ft elevation gain (no fee to park at visitor center)
     from Borrego Palm Campgrond: 3 miles round trip, 600 ft elevation gain ( there is $8.00 day use fee to enter campground )
This is the most popular trail probably in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and is also good for beginners because the ascent is very gradual, and the trail is well maintained. Though some parts of the trail would require some boulder hopping, because of the big rocks that litter the ground. Most parts of the trails are rocky, but very manageable. 
Desert Nature Trail, Visitor Center
The peak visitation to this park is during winter and spring when the temperature is cooler. In the summer, because of the intense desert heat, the trail is more isolated. Though at other times of the year, the hike here can be drab for some, because there is nothing but sun-blasted vegetation. But during spring, March and April, this park can turn into a rainbow of colors.
Blooming Beavertail and Brittlebush
Though the cactus themselves are already very interesting for me even without the blossoms, but then, seeing them bloom makes it all the more special. Some of the cacti in the nature trail at visitor center are quite huge and seeing them in their full glory in the desert is just amazing for me.

The trail to Borrego Palm Canyon from the Visitor Center starts at the pupfish pond, and walking up the canyon past many desert plants allow us to take a glimpse of how the Indians made used of these plants for their food and shelter.
Start of Trail from Visitor Center towards Borrego Palm Canyon
The willow was used for home building and bow making; the brittlebush and creosote were used for healing qualities; honey, mesquite and beavertail cactus were food staples. 
Brittlebush in Bloom and Cholla
From the nature trail at the visitor center to Borrego Palm Campground, the trail is mostly flat passing through thorny vegetation, most of them chollas. The chollas are adorned with the blooming brittlebush, and low on the ground are some desert dandelions and chicory.
Desert Dandelion
Desert Chicory
Chicory and Phacelia
There are still a lot more other wildflowers in this trail, but maybe I will have to save them for later so that this post will not be overloaded with pictures. After reaching the campground, the trail starts to be more rocky.
Trail Past Campground
There were a lot of tall ocotillos that line up the trail.
A Very Tall Ocotillo (or vine cactus)
The ocotillos have brilliant tubular red blooms, you can try clicking on the above picture if the enlarge one will show the bright red bloom clearly. I will save the up close pictures of ocotillo's bloom and more information about ocotillos in later Cactus Monday posts. 
Evidence of Life in the Dark Lining of the Rock
 ( bacterial action on minerals produce the dark/almost black coloration)
Aside from the ocotillos, one can observe the darkening of the rocks' edges, which are evidence of bacterial action. The walls of the canyons may look brown and sparse of vegetation, yet, on closer look, you will see a lot of barrel cacti and some bushes.
Barrel Cacuts, Grass on Canyon Walls
It is at this slopes where the desert bighorn sheep can be commonly observed. Though we have spotted several big horn sheep in our hike, but they were too far for me to take good pictures. It is hard to spot them, since they camouflage very well with the color of the canyon walls. 
Borrego Palm Canyon
After rounding a bend, an iridescent green that is cradled in the canyon is a pleasant surprise, when the early part of the trail were mostly thorny and sun-blasted vegetation. As one gets closer to the palm oasis, the trail becomes more rocky and there is a need to scramble on some rock surfaces to proceed. 
Rock and Boulder Strewn Trail
At this part, one will now observe and hear the running creek on between the canyon floor.
Creek at Borrego Palm Canyon
In some parts, water splashes over boulders, and in some, water drops over boulders creating a waterfall. 
Getting Closer to the Palm Oasis
Due to massive flooding in 2003 and 2004, about 80% of the palms in the first grove were washed out. The destruction, though widespread, but was not necessarily total. There are still some palm trees left, which provides shade for animals to cool down when the desert gets hot, and also is a beautiful destination of the hike. 
Borrego Palms @ Borrego Palm Canyon
This grove of desert palms is the end point of the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail. Some people spend time here to have some picnic, and take some splash in the nearby waterfall that cascades over huge boulders.
Waterfall @ Borerego Palm Canyon (there are many small waterfalls in the trail)
- desert spring oasis -

After this, one can either return to the trailhead using the same route, or take the alternate trail to South Fork , which will add 3.5 miles and 800 ft more elevation to the hike.

For more information on Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, please visit Anza Borrego Desert State Park site.
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  1. Wow! amazing photos and cactuses, thanks for the tour.

    Happy CM!


  2. gotcha, caughtcha! love the brittlebush, and the brittlebush and you, and khai! how've you been, bethsky?

  3. What spectacular shots and vistas...I absolutely loved the flowing water and the grove of primorial looking palms...Lovely post! HCM!

  4. I really enjoyed this tour of Anza Borrego Desert State Park. The mountains and cacti look similar to the ones in my area, but some of the wildflowers look different. I don't think we have any palm trees growing in the wilderness around here, but palms are used in landscaping all over Tucson.

  5. This is an incredible hike that included everything from cacti, to wild flowers, to water stream..So wonderful betchai!

  6. Your area is just beautiful and it made me homesick for Arizona and all its beauty. Your photos are gorgeous!


  7. This is another wonderful place betchai! Looking at those cacti and blooms, the wildflowers and the stream... it's all about nature's beauty! Having known it as a desert, I agree that it's ideal to go there when the temperature is cooler.

  8. What an amazing hike. Thanks for taking us along. All of those plants blooming now. WOW. I love that last photo too. It feels other worldly. HCM.

  9. The beauty of nature expressed in the wild! Lovely flowers, trails and so peaceful just to be with the palms. I have enjoyed the tour. I am training to start my three mile walk. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. I wonder how much time you spend doing all this nature trail,Betchai? I love your pics especially those of the palm trees.You're becoming a pro! =)

  11. You live in a beautiful part of the country. Thanks for stopping by my blog - I'm enjoying meeting all my fellow cactuteers! HCM

  12. I love the palm oasis! So cool! I can imagine as a creature myself, I would love to hang around there :D

  13. when I heard about cactus, I had never imagine it will grow in a place where there is loads of flowers and even there is a little pond (on your picture). Thanks for sharing your adventure again, seems you lived in a perfect place :-) lovely!

  14. I love the first photo of the cactus. Lovely composition. And the desert dandelion's pretty.

  15. these are spectacular shots of cactus.. abt the previous post, image is not everything but still a very important aspect of our being

  16. i think cacti produce beautiful blooms it has different varieties.

    ms beth, now i really want to go on tour with you haha

  17. I love the vine cactus and the creek photos. I have always found cactus to be an exotic and exciting plant. I'm just drawn to them for some reason. These photos as always are amazing Betchai.

  18. Lovely shots of the dandelion, chicory and phacelia! :)

  19. Oh Betchai...this is one of my favorite areas in the whole world! You live in it! Southern California all the way around! This rocky area is just experience I will never forget and hope to return to soon! You are so fortunate to live out there in SD! I am sighing deeply now.....

    Have a wonderful rest of the week!
    Just catching up on Catus Monday posts on Thursday morning! LOL.

  20. I just can't imagine how the park will look like when it's color turned into rainbow colors, probably it's more than mesmerizing. A very lovely photos there. :)

  21. the trail is absolutely flat, and anyone can use the trail indeed and those palm trees are really weird, never seen those kind at all.

  22. I love the flowers Sis....looks so beautiful :-) The falls is breath taking too. I would love to be underneath that falls :-)

  23. Sad to know that 80% of the palms in the first grove were washed out. Still the photos looks beautiful and nothing happen there.

  24. Those cactus reminds me of the zoo we went to in San Antonio Texas.

  25. The flowers alone can make my 'lampa' legs try the trek out there. I'm drawn to colors and nothing can give as much color than flowers. Spring is coming, the rainbow of colors may be starting to proliferate by now.

  26. I always love your waterfalls, though the rest are so good too.

  27. Cactus flower is beautiful to see..I need to make a trip to the Conservatory soon to feast the eyes!

  28. Great pics as always. Love the view and those wildflowers.

  29. I haven't seen so much cactus in one place before! Everything looks lovely there.

  30. Those flowers are so beautiful! How I would love to walk those trails....immerse my feet on the water and even climb boulders! :) Love yah! Now my list of places to visit has another entry! :)

  31. Wow! Another great trail you've had! I am afraid of cactuses because I might prick my fingers. LOL. But look at you! You are so brave to conquer the thorny trails!

  32. The very detailed description of the trail added with superb photographs makes me want to visit this place.

  33. I didn't know that cactus has flowers. I feel so stupid. Lol I thought they only have thorns. Guess I was wrong :D Thanks for sharing all your beautiful photos of the flowers ate. They are all beautiful. Oh, the gift of nature :)