Palm Canyon Trail

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness, California

Distance2.7mi
Elevation Gain745ft
Trailhead Elevation824ft
Top1,294ft
Elevation Min/Max759/1294ft
Elevation Start/End824/824ft

Palm Canyon Trail

Palm Canyon Trail is a hiking trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 2.7 miles long and begins at 824 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 5.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 745 feet. The Drinking fountain drinking water and the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitors Center public building are near the trailhead. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitors Center information can be seen along the trail. There are also parking, a water, a picnic site, and a theatre along the trail. The trail ends near the California fan palm, Washingtonia filifera wood. This trail connects with the following: Panoramic Overlook Trail and Borrego Palm Canyon - Alternative Path.

Palm Canyon Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

101 Hikes in Southern California: Exploring Mountains, Seashore and Desert (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad and David Money Harris
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"Borrego Palm Canyon has long been famous for harboring many hundreds of native palm trees in an otherwise austere setting of rock and sun-blasted vegetation. Perhaps 80% of these palms, which have surprised and delighted thousands of visitors over several decades, were summarily evicted from the canyon at 4:45 p.m. on September 10, 2004. On that afternoon an isolated, intense summer thunderstorm dumped buckets of rain over a relatively small area of the San Ysidro Mountains above. Sheets of water falling down the steep slopes gathered strength and speed as they joined forces in the narrow constriction of the canyon." Read more
Hiking Southern California (Falcon Guides)
Ron Adkison
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"This hike, part of it cross-country, leads into California’s Sonoran Desert via a deep, palm-dotted canyon in the San Ysidro Mountains. Encompassing more than 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the nation. Much of its land is roadless, ranging from remote mountain ranges to low hills and desert plains. The unusual California fan palm, found only in a few canyons and moist areas along the western and northern edge of the Colorado (Sonoran) Desert in California, is well represented in two separate groves in Borrego Palm Canyon. Experienced and adventurous hikers are urged to explore the rugged forks of the canyon beyond the second palm grove. The Middle Fork leads into the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation, where permission is required for entry. Hikers aren’t likely to find campsites in these narrow canyons, which are visited chiefly by day hikers." Read more
Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Sheri McGregor
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"Use the interpretive guide found at the trailhead to identify plants, animals, and other desert phenomena along this easy, well-visited desert-wash nature trail. Outstanding Features: Desert-wash landscape, stream and waterfalls, birds, possible bighorn-sheep sightings, and a shady oasis." Read more
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
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"Borrego Palm Canyon used to be the lushest and most beautiful of the roughly 25 “palm canyons” in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. However, on September 10, 2004, a wall of water at least 20 feet high tore through the narrower parts of the canyon. The rushing water uprooted hundreds of fan palm trees, floating them out past the mouth of the canyon toward Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and beyond. A mudflow hit the campground, causing considerable damage to its lower-lying structures. Dubbed a “hundred-year flash flood” by some and a “thousand-year flash flood” by others, the event was indeed a rare occurrence for that particular location in the Anza-Borrego Desert—but not so rare for the region at large. The rushing water uprooted hundreds of fan palm trees, floating them out past the mouth of the canyon toward Borrego Palm Canyon Campground and beyond. A mudflow hit the campground, causing considerable damage to its lower-lying structures. Dubbed a “hundred-year flash flood” by some and a “thousand-year flash flood” by others, the event was indeed a rare occurrence for that particular location in the Anza-Borrego Desert—but not so rare for the region at large." Read more
Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides)
Bill & Polly Cunningham
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"This trail provides a spectacular introduction to the beauties of the desert. The self-guiding brochure and the clear signs will help you become familiar with the plants and animals, geology, history, and ecology here. Ocotillo abound, as do honey mesquite, cheesebush, and chuparosa— the “hummingbird plant.” Hummingbirds are plentiful, especially in spring. In winter and spring, water flows in the adjacent stream, with small waterfalls. Sharp-eyed hikers can often spot bighorn sheep on the mountain slopes of the canyon, especially in early morning or evening." Read more

Palm Canyon Trail Reviews

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4/10/2010
A beautiful trail ... and especially a delight when the wildflowers and cactus are in bloom, as they were on this date. The springs are beautiful, especially when boulders team up with them to create photo-worthy waterfalls. Suggest starting early to avoid the crowds; very few people on the trail when we started at 7:20 a.m., compared with hundreds by mid-day.
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4/19/2008
We hiked this with a 3 and 5 year old and they had little problem. The trail meanders and there are multiple ways but they all go to the same spot and what a spot it is. The palm oasis is stunning and the small waterfall just before it allows for a nice cool swim, if you are so inclined. The day we went was windy with a lot of blowing sand to sting the bottom of the legs but otherwise the weather was great. There are also three Earthcaches along the trail which we enjoy a lot and add even more education to the journey. Overall, a great hike to a beautiful end.
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3/24/2004
Even though this 2004 spring's rains washed some debris across this trail, it is still a lovely hike up and back to the palm tree oasis. The first mile is very dry, but the desert floor has lots of small white, purple, and yellow flowers. The octillo is blooming and there are some flowers on the barrel cacti. The stream you'll cross (until it dries up soon) is cool and refreshing to splash in, as are the pools at the palm oasis. I saw everyone from 4th grade Girl Scouts to senior citizens hiking this trail, but it does have some hazards that could lead to twisting your ankle or falling. Stop first at the park's information center to look at the cactus displays, pick up brochures, and cool off before heading out. Hike either early morning or late afternoon for best weather; midday is too hot. The roundtrip 3.5 miles can be done in 2 hours, but it took 3 hours with my older mother. Bring plenty of water. Trail is well marked and there's parking at the trailhead for a $3-$5 state park fee (discount for seniors, disabled, etc.).
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Palm Canyon Trail Photos

Trail Information

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Nearby City
Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Parks
Kid-friendly
Accessibility
Easy
Skill Level
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS 7.5-minute Borrego Palm Canyon
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018