On my bucket list this year (and last) was to take the kids out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park during wildflower season, which is generally between April and May. Unfortunately I missed it last year, it's tough trying to co-ordinate schedules with wildflowers, they don't tend to tell you when they are going to bloom, especially in the quantities that one sees in photographs from that area, which is really quite annoying. So, we decided to just try our luck during Archaeology Weekend.
Unfortunately there hasn't been a lot of rain this season so there weren't masses of flowers just begging to be photographed, but we did manage to come across a few wildflowers, particularly on our 3 mile hike.
There are a number of hikes you can take throughout Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the visitor's center is a wealth of information. We were supposed to take a guided hike to Bailey Cabin in the Hawi-Vallecito Cultural Preserve, however it was cancelled due to the guide being ill. So, while the kids made paddle and anvil pottery outside, I popped into the visitor center to chat to a volunteer who gave me information and maps for a couple of great hikes that kids would love.
The hike we settled on was the Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail which is approximately a 3 mile round trip.
Before I share photographs and more information about the hike, I want to share a few photographs of the pottery, which was a special hands-on project for Archaeology Weekend.
Now, onto the hike.
The starting point for the hike is located a short distance from the visitor's center at the back of the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground. You can walk there, but with the heat, I decided it was better to pay the day-use fee at the camping ground and stick to our 3 mile plan instead of adding a couple of extra miles on and risk the kids being exhausted.
Here is the map of where we hiked:
map and route via Runkeeper
For the first mile (or .96 to be axact), it was rocky and hot and there were quite a lot of people on the trail. The kids did see birds and lizards which kept them somewhat occupied, but there were not a lot of wildflowers. However, once you get to that point in the hike, you come upon a log bridge running over a narrow creek. From that spot, and for the next half a mile, it's a beautiful hike. Either side of the creek in the canyon is green, there are wildflowers, a small waterfall, butterflies, dragonflies, birds, the kids spotted frogs and tadpoles in the creek, they played with a ladybug, and we spotted Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. The turn-around point of the hike is when you reach an oasis of palm trees. They provided much needed shade where we were able to sit up on rocks with a magnificent view, enjoy snacks before heading back along the trail again.
Even though my kids have hiked up to 7 miles during some of our previous weekend hikes, they were pretty exhausted after this trip, mainly due to the heat. Make sure you take plenty of water and snacks.
What you will need:
- 2-3 water bottles per person (we also took a few Gatorade bottles too)
- Medical kit
- Long pants (these protect the kids legs when they are climbing over rocks)
- Camera (of course)
There are bathrooms at the visitor center, and I spotted a sign to more at the very beginning of the trail, but there are no more on the trail.
You can find out more about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on the California State Parks website.