Bow Willow Road

Carrizo Gorge Wilderness Area, California

Elevation Gain262ft
Trailhead Elevation706ft
Elevation Min/Max706/954ft
Elevation Start/End706/706ft

Bow Willow Road

Bow Willow Road is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Carrizo Gorge Wilderness Area and Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness. It is 4.6 miles long and begins at 706 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.5 miles with a total elevation gain of 262 feet. The Bow Willow Campground camp site can be seen along the trail. Near the end of the trail are restrooms and drinking water. This trail connects with the following: Mountain Palms Trail and Carrizo Gorge Road.

Bow Willow Road Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
View more trails from this guide book
"A simple shack fashioned of rock, cement, and corrugated metal might be unremarkable anywhere else, but in the midst of thousands of acres of wild desert, it becomes a significant point of interest. The old cattlemen’s line shack in Rockhouse Canyon is a case in point: Hikers routinely travel miles overland to visit it. This rather popular if somewhat rugged hike includes some stretches of well-worn but poorly marked trails. Ducks and wooden stake markers are of some help in following the route. Topo maps are very handy if you do go off course."
Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press)
Jerry Schad
View more trails from this guide book
"The intriguing name “Bow Willow” is associated with the supple wood of the desert willow, supposedly used by American Indians to fashion hunting bows. Hundreds of these fragrant, bushy trees are scattered along Bow Willow Canyon’s lower end. Vehicles were allowed on the sandy bed of Bow Willow Canyon until the early 1980s, when flash flooding obliterated the road and half the campground. Thereafter, park officials decided to keep the canyon vehicle-free. In 1985, new campsites, replacing those that had washed away, were built on a gentle slope out of reach of floodwaters. The silent lower canyon is perfect for cool-weather hiking. Its white ribbon of sand winds, fjord-like, some 3 miles between steep walls heaped with desert-varnished boulders."
Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press)
Sheri McGregor
View more trails from this guide book
"This trail takes you from the semiprimitive setting of the Bow Willow Campground south into Rockhouse Canyon to glimpse Depression-era relics. You’ll travel from people to solitude and see unusual rock formations as well as a variety of desert vegetation. Brief climbs and descents over varying terrain are interspersed with long, flat treks across sandy washes and open desert. After spring rains, refreshing water gushes through Bow Willow Valley. Outstanding Features: Sandy wash, seasonal water, and a historic cattleman’s rock shelter."

Bow Willow Road Trip Reports

With no trip reports, your opinion of this trail could be huge! Help other outdoor enthusiasts today.

Bow Willow Road Photos

Show off your photography skills ... post your pics of this trail!

Trail Information

Carrizo Gorge Wilderness Area
Nearby City
Anza-Borrego Desert State Wilderness
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Contacts
USGS Sweeney Pass, Sombrero Peak
Local Maps

Trail Log