San Diego Trail Tramps

     Mountain Palm Springs Loop Trail - Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Above: Leaving Southwest Grove

Date:  HIKE: January 17, 2016  08:00 AM -  05:00 PM CAMPOUT: Saturday/Sunday Jan. 16th-17th

Info. URLs:  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Weather Underground Forecast, Hiking Mt. Palm Springs (excellent writeup by Modern Hiker!)

Location: Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Directions: from San Diego to Mt. Palm Springs:

San Diego carpoolers should meet in Hillcrest at our designated site in the Uptown Plaza by 7:45 AM and depart at 8:00 AM. 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. (Rendezvous with those of us who are camping out there.) For those of you driving out there on your own to meet us, we'll meet there about 9:30-10 AM and start the hike about 10:15 AM.

Google Maps directions from Hillcrest out to the S-2 Highway turnoff for Mt. Palm Springs

Check our maps section for directions and a map to the area. More hike info. and maps can be found in Jerry Schad's book "Afoot and Afield in San Diego County"

Background info.:

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.

Hike 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" for hike details. It's a * degree of difficulty out of a possible *****, 2.5-3.5 miles roundtrip hike. Elevation gain/loss is about 350'. This fun and easy hike will take about 2.5 hrs. plus lunch and water breaks. 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 continue up over the mesa trail to Surprise Canyon Grove, then hike up the canyon wash to Palm Bowl Grove where we'll have lunch. After a leisurly lunch break, we'll return down Surprise Canyon past the North Grove and back out to our vehicles.

Palm Bowl Grove Lunch Break


We're planning a campout under the stars at the primative campground near the trailhead. There are 2 vault toilet restrooms and that's it. You bring everything else you need for eating and sleeping arrangements. There are some spots for RV's. Everyone else usually sets up tents. Don't forget to bring binoculars for star gazing! Campfires are allowed, but must be contained in a metal bowl that you bring. Extra firewood is always welcome and appreciated!

Some of us will arrive Friday afternoon, others on Saturday, to have a potluck supper and campout on Sat. night, and possibly on Sunday night for those who don't have to work on Monday's Martin Luther King holiday. For those interested in joining the campout, please email ASAP to SanDiegoTrailTramps @ gmail dot com. Thanks!

Jack and Ennis gettin' closer around the campfire...