Whale Peak Trail

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness, California

Elevation Gain1,749ft
Trailhead Elevation3,988ft
Elevation Min/Max3988/5351ft
Elevation Start/End3988/3988ft

Whale Peak Trail

Whale Peak Trail is a hiking trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 2.4 miles long and begins at 3,988 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.9 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,749 feet. The trail ends near Whale Peak (elevation 5,328 feet).

Whale Peak 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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"Beginning at an elevation of 3,896 feet in the center of Pinyon Mountain Valley, this hike seems more like a trek through a mountain pine forest than a visit to the desert. Educationally enchanting, the area gives hikers a broader view of what desert land can really be like. A mixture of short but steep ascents and valleys, the trail culminates at the top of Whale Peak, which, at 5,250 feet, is just short of a mile high. The wide, flattish peak top is like an island set in the sky and offers panoramic views. Outstanding Features: A series of rocky ridges lined with piñon pines; hidden valleys; sweeping breezes; panoramic views."
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
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"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."
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
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"An interesting mix of experiences awaits you on this trek: a stroll down an old stagecoach path, meandering passages up and down boulder-strewn canyons, a visit to the view-packed summit of Whale Peak, and even some flat and easy walking in Blair and Little Blair valleys. Parts of the route have room for improvisation, so dust off your navigational skills. Note that there are no permanent sources of water along the route."

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Trail Information

Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Nearby City
Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Whale Peak
Local Maps

Trail Log