Mountain Palm Springs Trail
Want an easy hike with beautiful desert photo ops? I do, because I am more of the “will hike for photos” mindset than “hiking for my health.” I also want to be able to focus on the solitude of the moment rather than trying not to die in the wilderness.
Hence, the Mountain Palm Springs trail in the southern part of the Anza Borrego State Park is perfect! It is a 2.5 to 3 mile loop, with a few optional short out-and-back side trails that could lengthen the hike. Elevation change is 350 to 500 feet, depending on source. The trailhead is about a half-mile from California County Road S2, on a well-packed one-lane sandy road that presented no problems for my modest little Beetle. All in all, the perfect conditions for city slickers visiting the desert.
I headed east from San Diego on Interstate 8 on a rainy Sunday morning in late February, but once I started descending into the desert valley, blue skies and even a rainbow appeared! At Ocotillo, I exited the interstate and headed north on S2, named Imperial Highway at that point (its name later changes to Sweeny Pass Road when it crosses into San Diego County). Approximately 17 miles down the road, an unmarked sandy road on the left leads to the trailhead. Alternatively, you can enter “Mountain Palm Springs Campground” into Google Maps and follow the wisdom of technology.
You should never follow my blog as your sole hiking guide + advice, mostly because you do not want to die in the desert. Here are some other resources and descriptions of this trail so you can be fully informed and prepared for nature: