Exploring Anza Borrego

Discussion in 'Ride Reports' started by evdog, Apr 4, 2019.

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  1. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    With all the rain we've had this winter heading out to the desert has been a great way to keep pedaling. I've been meaning to spend more time out there for years so this along with this year's superbloom were all the excuse I needed.

    I'm way behind on pics but figured these trips were worthy of a thread since a lot of people only know the main rides like Pinyon Mtn to Fish Creek for biking.

    I wanted to see what else there was that could be good for MTB, and also explore some connections for future bikepacking routes.

    First trip this year was back in January

    I'd ridden part of this route before but wanted to check out some side canyons off Arroyo Tapadio. The route was Canyon Sin Nombre to Seco del Diablo to Arroyo Tapadio to South Carrizo Creek with a couple miles on pavement to close the loop. Very cool scenery and lots of stuff to explore on foot as well.

    Pedaled the highway first as a warmup and to get it out of the way


    Canyon Sin Nombre starts with a fast sandy descent into the canyon before mellowing out


    Scenery is best at the top, after that it just winds through some generic canyons until you get dumped out in a flat wash area.


    The climb up Seco del Diablo is similar. It's a mellow 1-3% grade for about 9 miles up a meandering canyon. Kinda cool but not spectacular. Pic below is from the flat land at the head of the canyon, about to drop into Arroyo Tapadio


    Looking north over Arroyo Tapadio toward the Vallecito Mtns


    I dropped into Arroyo Tapadio and headed south. Didn't take long to come to the first side canyon.


    This one wasn't very long but I rode the bike up til I hit a blockage and then continued on foot


    Time to get off


    Lots of small blockages to climb over or under, but very cool.


    It kept getting narrower and narrower til it eventually got to a spot where I'd have to climb up 5-6 feet and squeeze around a tight corner to continue. So I retraced steps and continued on.


    The next side canyon started off wider and was much longer, close to 2/3 mi where I turned around









    This one was never as narrow as the first but still very cool. This was where I had ditched the bike, the wash continued up the narrow cave and around a sharp corner.



    The Arroyo eventually dumped me back out into a flat wash area a couple miles from the bottom of Seco del Diablo



    Happy birthday to someone....


    Ended the ride back to beers with a short pedal up/down South Carrizo Creek which was more of a double track than a wash. Lots of greenery with the recent rains. Its going to be a great wildflower season.


    This one was pretty long at 35mi with the sand. I might take the moto up there next time to allow more time for exploring side canyons and other points of interest.
    Mikie, ~JB~, doublewide and 21 others like this.
  2. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Very cool scenery! Looks like a good time; thanks for the share :thumbsup:
    Mikie, evdog, Tom the Bomb and 2 others like this.
  3. Tom the Bomb

    Tom the Bomb Well-Known Member

    Alta Loma, Ca.
    Thomas Cosgrove
    Current Bike:
    Niner rip 9
    Another world!
    Mikie, Cyclotourist and evdog like this.
  4. Redman

    Redman Well-Known Member

    Cypress, Ca
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Nomad CC 27.5
  5. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S

    Went out for a day in February following some big storms in SD. A bunch of highways were closed due to snow so I had to go the long way around to get out there. Water flowing as a result...


    I decided to check out a short trail first that might be good to include in a bikepacking route to cut out some pavement. The trail, which is really an old dirt road, is good. But the sign says no bikes. Makes sense - look at all the damage my tire did!


    I have never seen snow that low before. Guessing snow line is around 2,500ft


    Not my drawing


    Next up I pulled out the moto to cruise up Grapevine Canyon and check out a couple other routes nearby


    Found a section of California Hiking and Riding Trail, to be explored another day


    It had grown overcast despite a clear forecast, and then the skies opened up and it started puking snow




    The road I was on started getting slick so I got the hell out of there, cruising up to the highway and taking it down into Borrego Springs. Had about 30 mi to go to get back to the truck. Snow turned to rain as I dropped down. I had brought a few layers including for my hands but even with those my hands were pretty numb by the time I got back. Had to sit in the truck for half hour with the heater cranked, to warm up again.
    My own personal storm cell, still throwing down up on the mountain


    After that I drove over to Borrego and cruised around town. Someone has placed metal sculptures all over which are pretty cool



    Skies looked like they wouldn't open again so I headed over to Borrego Badlands and rode out to Font's Point


    The maze out there is mezmerizing...




    Looking north at the Santa Rosa mountains


    From Font's I turned down Short Wash to go check out Vista del Malpais


    It was a cool view too but being harder to get to, better to just go to Fonts


    Continued down Short Wash, which was now very wide, and then climbed up Ella Wash back to the highway.


    Not a lot of mileage but it was cool to check out some things I've been wanting to for awhile.
    Mikie, mike, doublewide and 6 others like this.
  6. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S

    Headed back to the desert for more exploring. A place that's been on my to-do list for ages is Valley of the Moon. It's just off I-8 before it drops down into the desert, and stretches right down to the border fence (not wall). While most of the "trails" are jeep roads it is popular with hikers and rock climbers. I brought the mountain bike.

    There is a stout climb up over a ridgeline to access Valley of the Moon


    Still some snow on the higher peaks


    Not much here besides cactus and rock


    What takes a modified 4x4 is easy on a bike


    There were a few trees growing out of rock outcrops. This one was dead


    Looking south. Those snow covered mountains are in Mexico


    Same with those ones, along with the wind turbines


    Inspecting Trumps border fence. Looks secure to me!


    On the way out I took a more southern road that followed the border fence for a while. I got to enjoy about a 1/4 mile of some of the steepest hike-a-bike I've ever done to get out of there. The reward was dropping down a different steep, rocky road


    Back to the truck right at sunset


    Headed out for a soak in some local hot springs


    Nice little oasis in the middle of nowhere. Didn't know what to expect on a Saturday night - packed with rowdy assholes? Nope, had it to myself


    Flowers next to my campsite. I camped nearby thinking a sunrise soak would be rad. Didn't feel like getting up when the time came, and soon enough people showed up. Pass. Time to head out anyways


    Had a bit of a drive to get to Anza Borrego. Decided to check out a couple washes I heard were fun to ride. Parked at The Slot trailhead


    Nearby mountains still covered in snow


    I pedaled out Borrego Mountain Wash and over to Rainbow Wash


    End of the line was a head scratcher. It had looked like I should be able to go further on satellite, but I couldn't see an obvious way to continue


    Looking around I found a side slot canyon a couple turns back that continued on. Must be what I saw earlier. It was a better place to ditch the bike as well


    Hiking onwards. This one went on for quite a ways


    Getting super narrow


    Finally couldn't go further but it looked like I could climb up to a ridge top. Walked maybe half a mile up top, and got within 500 feet of Fonts point. Could have easily climbed up there


    Badlands are just as interesting from down low as they are when seen from above


    Looking west toward the dunes


    Retraced my steps and pedaled over to Hills of the Moon wash


    This one was tougher riding with more loose sand


    Caught up to a bunch of jeeps right at the end. Slot canyon there didn't go up very far. Or maybe it did, but was blocked by fallen boulders



    It was getting late at this point. Each of the washes was around 5mi long so out and back was 10mi each. And another 5-6 back to the truck.

    At least the climb back out on Buttes Pass Rd was solid road bed and not sand. It was close to sunset when I got back but still wanted to check out The Slot. Fortunately most people had left for the day so I wouldn't see many down below


    Had considered trying to take my bike through it, but was glad I didn't. Even taking a wheel off it would have been a tight squeeze, and no way to ride any of it


    Such a cool spot


    Last rays


    Rock cairns


    Hmm what just happened? Must have been an earthquake or something


    Walking back, time for one more squeeze




    Another great day of exploring.




    mike, DangerDirtyD, UPSed and 7 others like this.
  7. kingaucho

    kingaucho Member

    South OC
    Current Bike:
    Giant Anthem 29er
    Really cool and thanks for sharing! Hope all of the pics upload. Is this before you drop down towards El Centro?
    Mikie likes this.
  8. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    pearl harbor
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    nice arches
    Mikie likes this.
  9. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Crescenta Valley
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Good stuff Evan, thanks for sharing it.
    Mikie likes this.
  10. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Are you not seeing pictures? They appeared for me on preview now the last couple posts all show as IMG_xxxxxxxxx.jpg. Sometimes its my work computer won't display them. Anyone else having issues seeing them? Still have one more weekend worth of pics to upload. Hopefully its just taking a while for data to be uploaded in the server or something. Or @Mikie is slacking off and asleep at the switch :cautious:

    Anza Borrego is after you drop down on I-8, but before El Centro. It goes all the way from I-8 up to the Santa Rosa mountains south of Palm Springs. Huge area to explore!
    Mikie and kingaucho like this.
  11. konakc

    konakc Well-Known Member

    nice adventures.. thanks for sharing...
  12. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Hey @Mikie welcome back! Can you see the photos in the last couple TR posts above? They're not showing up for me.
    Mikie and doublewide like this.
  13. doublewide

    doublewide iMTB Rockstah

    Current Bike:
    Ride Life Ride Giant
    Me neither...
    Mikie likes this.
  14. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    I am not!
    I'm just as frustrated as some of you may be. Andy will be back from Europe in a week or two and him and i are going to sit down and look at upgrades and fixes for all of this.
    Thanks so much for the patience. We WILL get this.
  15. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Thanks @Mikie. It was just strange that some would show up and some not, and then half way through a post none were showing up. Doesn't seem to affect posts with smaller numbers of photos - for some reason a larger batch like this isn't uploading correctly. Let me know once you've tried some things and I can re-load the posts.
    Mikie and Cyclotourist like this.
  16. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Hooligan

    Current Bike:
    Tallboy Upgrade
    It has to be some sort of memory setting that it maxing out. Don't know if it's just X MB per post, or thread, or???
    Mikie likes this.
  17. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Wierd...pics all load. Then I edit a previous post where some pics show up in duplicate. And now most of them don't load again. Clearing my cache and reloading - they all load again. Including the duplicates I just deleted. :facepalm:

    Gonna go ahead and post the other days. Hopefully everyone will see them...one of these days!
    Mikie and Cyclotourist like this.
  18. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S

    Another trip to the desert trying to knock more things off my to-do list.

    First up was checking out Table Mountain. This is an area across I-8 from Valley of the Moon that has some jeep roads that go west stopping just above the railroad that runs through Carrizo Gorge. It has always looked like a cool area but I've never gotten around to checking it out before. This was a perfect moto mission.

    Easy to see why the call it Table Mtn


    I followed the jeep roads for quite a ways, eventually hitting the end of one where I got a good look down into Carrizo Gorge. You can just make out a glimpse of the railway tracks in the middle of the pic


    The first road I tried to ride down was too steep and I wasn't sure I'd be able to make it back out. I can't just carry the moto up something steep like I can with the mountain bike so I have to make good choices out there. I found an alternate way down and then looped around, coming to the bottom of the steep section. Since I knew I could go back the way I came, I wanted to try and ride up this. Got 2/3 of the way up it and came to a grinding halt when it had a huge step up at a 90* turn. Wheel just sunk in trying to go further so had to roll back down. There was a split with a second road bypassing that steep part.


    Line on the right is what I tried first. Made it up the left line second try. Its steeper than it looks.


    I followed a few different roads to see where they'd go. I was hoping to find a route that connected down into Anza Borrego. A couple roads crossed into Anza Borrego but didn't go through.

    This road wasn't on my map but kept going and going. It was a slow one with lots of rock steps to ride down. Probably the most continuously technical ride I've done on the moto yet.


    Eventually it dropped me right down to I-8. I don't recall ever noticing it while driving. My route out of here can be seen climbing away. Look how steep it gets when it turns uphill


    This was just before it got steep. I should have taken some pics of that stuff but I just wanted to get through it. There were some big rock rolls I had to go up. Made it up a couple I didn't think I'd make and got bucked off the bike on a couple others that had multiple step ups. In one crash I bent my shifter and had to bend it back. I had to get off and "walk" the bike up a couple spots. But made it through. This was one trail I probably shouldn't have tried to ride alone. Beer back at the truck was well-earned.


    A ride up Carrizo Canyon was next on my to-do list. I loaded up the moto and headed down into Anza Borrego. Stopped at an overlook to check out the view.


    There were two things up Carrizo Canyon - deep sand, and flowers. I was glad I rode the moto and not the mountain bike.


    Sand was packed down in some places. It was tough riding where the sand was loose.


    The road went a lot further than this on satellite, but no vehicles allowed past this spot since it crosses into state wilderness.


    Looking back south. Better get going before it gets dark....


    After the ride I headed north to find a campsite closer to my ride for the next day. Ended up at Blair Valley. Tons of #vanlifers camped there but I managed to find a spot away from the crowds.

    Pre-sunrise from my sleeping bag


    I figured I should head up into Borrego Springs and check out how the super bloom was coming along. Not spectacular yet, but not bad.


    I headed up Coyote Canyon next. Definitely more color up there, with thick beds of yellow flowers


    Some ocotillos were in bloom too. Crowds were steady but it wasn't bad. Turned around at the second stream crossing.


    I headed across County Rd S-22 next planning to check out the Calcite Mine. A bit of history at the trailhead. Its very cool to have all these historic routes. No way would bikes or motorized traffic be allowed here if not for them.


    Cool canyons below the Calcite mine


    I believe there is a hiking route through them from the mine. Something to check out another time….


    Before WW2 someone caught a glint up in these hills and investigated. This became the only US site where optical grade calcite crystals could be sourced. The area was trench-mined and the crystals used in gunsights for the war.


    I hiked up above the mine for some great views of Anza Borrego and even the Salton Sea. There’s a couple trenches just in front of me here


    Rode down to another rock formation. This is looking back up at the mine


    Dropping back from the mine I rode a quick loop around North and South Palm Wash and then crossed the highway, planning to loop some more washes down there.

    If I didn’t mention it already there were butterflies everywhere. A lot of them were splattered on the front of my truck. A cloud of these ones ended up in my face (not splattered, I’m not that fast!)


    About to drop into the Carrizo Badlands


    Exploring. Water was seeping a bit higher up so I turned around when it got mucky


    Unusual sight


    Another unusual sight. Ancient giant underground worm?


    More exploring


    I followed Salado Arroyo around to Tule Wash which had the best riding surface and best scenery of the day. Late afternoon light helped with that.


    I was going to loop around on Basin Wash but it appeared to be all deep sand, so I retreated on Tule Wash and retraced my route, racing the sun back to my truck.


    Made it back just before last light. Another great weekend of exploring in the books

    Mikie, mike, scan and 8 others like this.
  19. Cyclotourist

    Cyclotourist iMTB Hooligan

    Current Bike:
    Tallboy Upgrade
    Love the multiple modes of transportation you're using... well thought out ways to see the most, while being close to the ground!
    Mikie and Tom the Bomb like this.
  20. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Weekend of 3/23

    Superbloom was still peaking. temps looked great, and trails in SD were still soggy, so I headed back out to Anza Borrego for another weekend of exploring.

    At home I can sleep in all morning. Camping, I often wake up at first light. It was super damp out so I got up and headed down the mountain to dry out


    Stopped to take in the sunrise and views on the way down



    Drove down into Borrego Springs and checked out some more of the sculptures before the crowds arrived





    Then headed over to the flower fields, found a quiet spot to eat breakfast and dry my stuff out


    Unloaded the moto and went for a ride up Coyote Canyon. It used to be possible to ride moto all the way up Coyote Canyon to the town of Anza which is what I planned to do, then loop around. But apparently state parks has shut that down and you can only ride up to the lower Willows now. There is still a route through the willows, used mostly by mountain bikers and occasionally by hikers but it is getting hard to follow since motos used to maintain it. I decided to hike through the lower willows to see what it was like.


    First part was hiking up a stream bed. A hundred yards up I came to a point where new stream flow was coming down the wash.


    A couple hundred yards up water was flowing freely. Then the willows closed in and it became overgrown. Ran into two bikers who said it had been a tough push through. They'd had a hard time finding the route from the far end.




    Managed to keep my feet somewhat dry, surprisingly


    Far end of the willows had a couple big palm trees as a landmark. Coming north I was able to find my way through OK but I could see how it was hard starting there. The whole section was around a mile long.


    Back on the moto I retraced track down Coyote canyon and headed back over to Carrizo Badlands to do a loop.


    Checked out a few side trails. A large tunnel went under the highway here but with a 2 ft step up I could only walk through today.


    Rode down the route I tried to MTB on a previous trip but turned back due to sand. Continued on today and finished the loop. Would have taken me hours longer on MTB.


    Ended up with close to 90mi total on the moto and was pretty sore by the end of it all. Fun day exploring though. Need to go back and ride the rest of Coyote Canyon on MTB.

    Mikie, ~JB~, mike and 5 others like this.
  21. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    I'd brought my mountain bike along but was still feeling too sore from the moto riding to pedal. Decided instead to head over to Three Sisters falls and do a hike. Not in Anza borrego but it was cool and part of the weekend, so I'm still stickin' it here.

    Camped not too far away in a nice oak/grassland area.


    View of San Diego backcountry from the high point (and beginning) of the hike.


    First view of the falls. Three sisters is one of a couple local waterfalls that have become crazy popular in recent years, and infamous due to city "hikers" who head out unprepared, in flip flops, and/or in scorching temps and then need to be rescued.


    The trail used to head down a steep fall line slope that required scrambling to get down and was a miserable grunt to climb back up in the heat of the day. But the forest service recently build a nice manicured contouring trail to make the falls easier and safer to access.


    I timed the hike perfectly. The early early risers were already headed out as I headed down, and the hoardes were still a ways behind me. Only 4-5 of us at the falls when I got there.



    And here they come! Could almost hear the backpack speakers from across the valley. Time to get the F out of here.


    Free entertainment was watching people trying to slip-slide their way down this steep section. Pink flags suggest one more re-route is in the works.


    With streams still flowing strong I decided to check out another waterfall I found a couple years back. It is not on any maps and I've never found any reference to it, anywhere. Requires bushwack to get there.


    At 60ft drop it's a good one and worth the effort to get to. Don't bother asking where!


    Bonus was it had warmed by afternoon so I could get in a nice skinny dip.


    Last visitor to the falls didn't fare so well. Like him I might take the location of these falls to the grave.

    Mikie, Tom the Bomb, ~JB~ and 9 others like this.
  22. knucklebuster

    knucklebuster Well-Known Member

    34.2295° N, 117.2257° W
    Current Bike:
    Guerrilla Gravity Megatrail
    Great stuff, love exploring the desert. Back in the 90's before they closed Coyote to vehicles at lower willows, I did the route up to Anza. Even then it got confusing at times, crossing the wash a number of times (which was still running with water in early summer) and super sandy. Turkey Track grade was the steep climb out of the canyon to Anza, and quite rough. I realized the benefit of the Cherokee's unibody construction, the whole body would flex when you got off kilter, allowing a wheel get to the ground for some traction.
    Would be cool to ride a bike down from Anza, but getting back up??
  23. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    Point to point shuttle! Would be cool to start up on Thomas Mtn and ride all the way down there. Or bike pack all or part of the Stagecoach route.
    Mikie, Tom the Bomb, ~JB~ and 2 others like this.
  24. jimbowho

    jimbowho Member

    james jim jimmy
    Current Bike:
    GT sensor 29r
    Wow. I'm up drinking coffee and get to enjoy all the photos. My budds that live in Diego would drag me out there. No mtn biking, just 2-strokes. I'm impressed you know all the trail names and places, we just called it Ocotilla or Borrego and we never saw it all. That place is GODS playground. I'm assuming the statue's are fairly recent or I missed out? Thanks Evdog
  25. mike

    mike iMTB Hooligan

    Western US
    Mike O
    Current Bike:
    GG Smash
    Fabulous, ev! Thanks for the mind vacation, and way to get after it. As usual, crushing :thumbsup:
    Mikie, Tom the Bomb and Cyclotourist like this.
  26. evdog

    evdog Well-Known Member

    San diego
    Evan S
    @jimbowho I have a couple good maps to help me navigate. Then just pick lines that look interesting and go explore! There is usually stuff you can hike beyond where the lines end as well. Some areas best explored on foot, some best on MTB, some best on moto. I don't know how recent the statues are but they are a very cool distraction in an already rad area.

  27. Mikie

    Mikie Admin/iMTB Hooligan

    Lebec, California
    Mikie Watson
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower/Yeti 5C
    Picture Slot Machine...
    I encourage you to take the time to re-read and experience the effort Evan takes to assemble his ride reports. I love the fact that every ride report on this site is awesome in it's content and scope.
    From the "I Rode My Bike" Thread to tales of journey and adventure we sometimes can only imagine... we get it all here at imtbtrails. Believe it or not, my first passion was graphics and creativity, I started out as a college graphic illustrator as my first real passion. So seeing the write ups and especially the time Evan puts into his photography I can really relate... This one totally moves me...
    Enjoy... again...
  28. siata94

    siata94 Member

    lake forest
    Current Bike:
    lazy goat
    Incredible pics!!! evdog and levity must be the same person... never seen them on a ride together...

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