In the Anza Borrego desert, one of the most popular spots to hike is Borrego Palm Canyon. This three mile trail climbs into a canyon near the visitor center and ends at a nice palm oasis and a small seasonal waterfall. It’s a great hike, but there is a decent amount of uphill, so don’t do it on a hot day. Here is all the information.
- Cost: if you are camping it’s free to enter the parking area or else it’s $10
- 3 miles
- 150 feet of elevation
- This information is from my visit in 2017 and 2019
- Read more about Anza Borrego here
The trail for Borrego Palm Canyon is at the end of the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. You need to pay the fee to get in here if you are not camping, then you just proceed past the campgrounds to the end of the road. There is a good sized parking lot here that you can use for the hike.
From the parking lot, there are two trails you can head out, the main and the alternate, but both go to the same place. The alternate trail takes you up a little more elevation and is closer to the mountains, so it is harder, but you might see sheep on it (I didn’t).
The main trail just goes along the wash the entire time, so it is pretty easy to follow, and there is not as much elevation gain as the alternate. The trail is not well shaded, and it has some elevation, so make sure you are prepared if it is hot.
As you follow the trail back, you will enter a large canyon.
This canyon bends around, and you head up a little bit. When you get to the top of the tiny hill, you will be able to see the destination, the palms in the distance.
This part of the trail feels more remote than it is. I didn’t see many people on it when I went, so it was kind of crazy being out there by myself.
The trail has plaques on it talking about history and the things you are seeing, so grab a booklet before starting if you are interested in that.
This is also the portion of the trail where I saw a rattlesnake sunning itself.
The rattlesnake was right in the middle of the trail, so I saw it and was able to stop and go around it. Be sure you are paying attention and looking out for snakes, especially when it’s warm.
The last quarter mile is impressive as you go into the palms and begin to see green instead of the desert’s brown.
The trail is a little harder to follow here and feels overgrown in some parts, especially as you get close to the base of the grove. Before heading into the grove, listen for water, and you might see the small trickle of the falls if you’re lucky. Most of the year it is just stagnant water sitting in a small pool.
From there, head under the low-hanging palms and into the oasis.
There is a large flat area here with a small bench tree so you can sit and relax for a few minutes.
I really enjoyed seeing this spot, and it one of the better oasis in Anza Borrego.
If you are looking for a nice hike to introduce you to the desert, then this is a good choice. Let me know what you think in the comments.