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Anza Borrego SP - Elephant Trees

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Desert flora and fauna, wash and alluvial fan, strange elephant trees
Near:Borrego Springs, CA
Distance:2.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain:300 ft
Hike Time:1.5 hours
Trail Condition:Poorly maintained trail

Summary: This is a short interpretive trail through a desert wash. You can make this into a larger hike, but there really isn't much here for your effort.

I have read that the elephant trees are bizarre and wonderful when in bloom. However, when they are not in bloom, they look pretty much dead like all the other larger plants/trees in the area.

One good thing on this hike is that you get to observe a wide variety of tracks in the sand. Not a bad hike, but definitely not a great one.

Trailhead: From the town of Borrego Springs (don't blink) - Stay South on Borrego Springs Road through Christmas Circle. Follow it to the 78. If you get on S3, that works too, you just want to make your way to the 78 East. Follow the 78 to Split Mountain Road, where you make a right. Follow it for 5 or 6 miles to the turnoff for Elephant Trees. Take the dirt road to the parking area.

From here there is an interpretive trail, although there weren't any guides when we went. You can follow the wash as far as you like. (Lat:33.05747 Lon:-116.12524)

Trail Guides for Anza Borrego SP - Elephant Trees:
California Hiking
by Tom Sinestra and Ann Marie Brown (Avalon Travel)

Day Hikers Guide to Southern California
by John McKinney (Olympus Press)

Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers,
Ranger Contact: Anza Borrego State Park (760)767-4205
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Allen Riedel, who has posted  123 other hikes on this site. To visit this reporters web site, click here.
Trail Reviews  Submit your own review
Reviewed by Chris V. on 6/27/2009
This hike is a nice, easy hike and can be completed by just about anyone. The Elephant Trees are interesting, as well as the surrounding flora.

Reviewed by gary on 12/29/2008
it would be great of there were locations of these areas in your webs sites. I was unable to locate the locations in order that I could take my family to see these site.

Reviewed by Reena on 10/11/2008
The photo of the "elephant trees" is really of "smoke trees." The smoke trees are common in washes and have spectacular little purple flowers in late spring, early summer. There is only one "elephant tree" left on the described hike. It is common in Baja but rare in the US. The nza-Borrego desert is the northern range of them. The trunk and branches are typically reddish-grey with very small, deciduous, alternatively arranged leaves. It is a scratch & smell tree, as the bark smells like turpentine (but in a nice way) if you scratch it a bit then take a whiff.

Reviewed by mtm on 2/25/2007
This is a nice hike if you want to check out some cool trees and experience the desert wash without too much effort. I have been on it several times and its always interetsing, especially when the bloom is ON. It can get very windy here so be prepared.

Notice: Traveling in the backcountry can be hazardous. You are responsible for informing yourself about these hazards and taking necessary precautions. Information on this web site comes from volunteer reporters and may contain errors or omissions. A current guidebook and proper equipment are essential for safe enjoyment of the hikes posted on this site.
Keys: California Hiking, California Trails, California Hikes, San Diego County Hiking, San Diego County Trails, San Diego County Hikes

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