Mountain Palms Trail

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness, California

Distance1.6mi
Elevation Gain334ft
Trailhead Elevation946ft
Top1,000ft
Elevation Min/Max883/1000ft
Elevation Start/End946/946ft

Mountain Palms Trail

Mountain Palms Trail is a hiking trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 1.6 miles long and begins at 946 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.1 miles with a total elevation gain of 334 feet. The trail ends near the Southwest Grove (palms) conservation. This trail connects with the following: Bow Willow Road.

Mountain Palms Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Sheri McGregor
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"Six palm groves of varying sizes, two within quick access to the trailhead (which itself is easily reached from County Route S2) make Mountain Palm Springs a visitor favorite. Primitive camping here, and close proximity to more developed Bow Willow Campground just over the hill, also contribute to its popularity. It’s a busy location and you’re likely to see others, especially at the large Southwest Grove, which provides access to 1.5 miles of flat trail from the parking area. Outstanding Features: Palm oases, sandy wash, seasonal water, and sweeping views of the desert." Read more
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
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"The Mountain Palm Springs area boasts—with some room for disagreement, perhaps—the most charming palm oases in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The palms here are gregarious and grow in dense clusters, often with pools of water at their feet. Some have never been burned: They still hold full skirts of dead fronds around their trunks, the better to serve the local population of rodents and snakes. In late fall and early winter, the sticky, sweet fruit of the palms hangs in great swaying clusters, sought after by birds and the sleek coyotes that prowl up and down the washes. The palm groves are distributed along several small ravines and washes that drain roughly a square-mile area on the east side of the Tierra Blanca Mountains." Read more
Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides)
Bill & Polly Cunningham
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"The Mountain Palm Springs oasis loop is really two separate hikes from the same trailhead to the end point of both hikes: the extensive Palm Bowl Grove. The two legs described in this eTrail can easily be combined into a wonderful loop to all six of the captivating palm groves in the Mountain Palm Springs complex. Both trails lead up sandy washes, one westward and the other to the north. The native California fan palm derives its name from the shape of its leaves. As the tree produces new leaves at the top of its trunk, skirts of older leaves die and droop over the lower part of the tree, giving it the distinctive full look characteristic of these palms. These groves are remnants of ancient savannahs. Here water and shade attract scores of bird species, such as the hooded oriole, which weaves its nest on the underside of palm fronds. You may also catch a glimpse of a great horned owl, mourning dove, cactus wren, or western bluebird." Read more
101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"If you like the contrast between palm-tree oases and a raw landscape of sand and eroded rock, you’ll love Mountain Palm Springs. The palms here are gregarious, growing in dense clusters, often with pools of water at their feet. Some have never been burned: they still hold full skirts of dead fronds around their trunks, the better to serve the local population of rodents and snakes. In late fall and early winter, the sticky, sweet fruit of the palms hangs in great swaying clusters, sought after by birds and the sleek coyotes that prowl up and down the washes. The palm groves are distributed along several small washes that drain roughly a square-mile area on the east side of the Tierra Blanca Mountains near the south end of AnzaBorrego Desert State Park." Read more

Mountain Palms Trail Reviews

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1/15/2007
One of my all-time favorites, this trail takes you to 6 palm oases if you take all the right trails. From quaint little oases with a cluster of a couple dozen palms to huge dense stands. Fantastic birding and some decent herping here. The trail also takes you through creosote flats (more good birding) and ocotillo ridges. Great diversity. Nearby Rockhouse canyon is another great hike--spectacular views from the ridge above. Bow Willow primitive campground is a great base for exploring the area. There's pit toilets but no drinking water, so bring plenty. The best sites are near the trailhead--less exposed and nestled under the rocky slopes. You get a little shade from the slopes and there's more vegetation here.
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Trail Information

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Nearby City
Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Moderate
Skill Level
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Sweeney Pass
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018