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
 Description:  See Area D-11: Bow Willow/In-Ko-Pah Mountains, Trip 3, Mountain Palm Springs, in Schad's book (c '99, p.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 climb the trail to the southwest, up to Torote Bowl (where groups of elephant trees grow) for a lunch break and a great view of the desert to the east.

After lunch, we'll head back down the trail to Southwest Grove, then 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 another great place to take a break and soak in the ambiance of the palm grove amid huge boulders.

From there, if time permits, we may take an old Indian pathway that leads over a low pass into Indian Gorge and explore that area a bit. 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.

Palm Bowl Grove