Pictograph Trail

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness, California

Distance1.3mi
Elevation Gain255ft
Trailhead Elevation3,119ft
Top3,316ft
Elevation Min/Max3119/3316ft
Elevation Start/End3119/3119ft

Pictograph Trail

Pictograph Trail is a hiking trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 1.3 miles long and begins at 3,119 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 1.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 255 feet.

Pictograph Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"The Kumeyaay Indians who made camp around Blair Valley before the 20th century left more than bedrock morteros (grinding holes) and potsherds. They also left impressive pictographs—red- and yellow-painted designs—on the face of a large boulder in Smuggler Canyon. Generations of archaeologists have puzzled over the meaning of these and other pictographs and petroglyphs (etched designs), which appear not only in the Anza-Borrego region but throughout the Southwest. The diamond-chain motif at the Smuggler Canyon site has been linked to puberty rites, but the complete meaning of these rock inscriptions may never be known."

"Blair Valley has attracted human visitors for centuries. High above the desert, its temperatures are more moderate than those of its surroundings. Early inhabitants evidently found it comfortable, as do present-day hikers and campers. Hikers can pause to contemplate the meaning of pictographs along the way, which still puzzle archeologists. Left by the ancient Dieguena Indian Tribe, the red and yellow pictographs painted on the rocks may have relayed messages to travelers, or have some religious significance. Prehistoric graffiti represents a large investment of time and labor, so it is not to be taken lightly. Your view of Little Blair Valley on the hike back to the parking area shows the value of this location to early desert dwellers. Residents enjoyed excellent visibility from this slope at the end of the valley. There is a sacred feeling about being in an area that was inhabited so many centuries ago."

"This is a nice short, easy trail that even a three-year-old should be able to handle, except for maybe a few rough and difficult spots. The trail is a bit steep at first, but the gain only lasts for a short while as the route climbs and eventually arrives at a beautiful plateau at about 0.5 mile. From there the trail is level all the way to the boulder outcropping, about 0.5 mile farther, that contains the pictographs. The rock and pictographs are easy to spot, and virtually impossible to miss, but pay careful attention to the right side of the trail, as there are several smaller offshoots that lead around the rock and to other sites indicative of the earlier Native American Kumeyaay inhabitants."

"This flat, easy trail travels straight over sandy wash and passes next to a display of native Indian rock art (pictographs). The path then leads to a sudden drop-off overlook into the Vallecitos Valley. The up close view of the rock art symbols at 0.8 miles and the easy hiking make this a good choice for school-age children, but be careful if you hike the remaining 0.6 miles to the overlook. The drop-off is abrupt, so don’t let children run ahead. Outstanding Features: Sandy wash, Native American rock art, and a valley view."

"Blair Valley has attracted human visitors for centuries. High above the desert, its temperatures are more moderate than those of its surroundings. Early inhabitants evidently found it comfortable, as do present-day hikers and campers. A wide, sandy trail leads from the parking lot up a gradual slope to a saddle 160 feet higher than the parking area. The trail becomes more rocky as it climbs through pinyon-juniper vegetation. Over the saddle, at 0.4 mile on your right, is a large boulder with the mysterious pictographs (identified as petroglyphs on the topographic map) left by prehistoric residents of this high valley. These striking artifacts of an ancient culture have been well-preserved in spite of their remote, wild location. Hikers can pause to contemplate the meaning of these signs, which still puzzle archeologists.."

Pictograph Trail Reviews

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4/12/2009
The trail to Pictographs and Smuggler’s Canyon is one of the shorter hikes in Anza Borrego State Park, but if you tie it together with the Morteros and/or Yaqui Well Nature Trail, it is well worth the side trip. Interesting prehistoric Indian Pictographs and a great viewpoint over Smuggler’s Canyon and one of Anza Borrego’s scenic valleys. (Date hiked: April 12, 2009.) Read the full write-up at: http://www.greeneadventures.com/2011/05/11/pictograph-trail-to-smugglers-canyon-a-cool-and-easy-anza-borrego-hike/
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6/3/2006
Although the drive was a little rough, if you don't have an SUV, it was still manageable in a car. When we arrived at the trail head, there was a marker with a good description and the trail was an easy hike and well marked the entire distance. I wouldn't recommend waiting until June for this hike, but the pictographs were great.
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10/1/2005
Good ride, about 6 hours total up and back. Steady climb up and around to a pretty valley then on up again to the pictographs. Have to walk in 1 mile to see the pictographs so if on horse back like us you have to be prepared to leave your horse or just not go in to see them. Weather was alittle hot.
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Pictograph 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
Earthwalk Press Anza-Borrego Region Recreation Map; USGS Whale Peak
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018