Sandstone Canyon—East Approach Trail

Julian, California

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Sandstone Canyon has been called the most spectacular small wash in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. After exploring the main canyon and any of its many tributaries, it would be hard to argue with that assertion. The walls of Sandstone Canyon consist of horizontally stacked layers of tan and dark brown sandstone. In some places where the sheer walls soar almost 200 feet, there’s not much room at the bottom for a vehicle to get through. The canyon bottom is filled with granitic sand and boulders, washed down from the south slopes of the Vallecito Mountains (a largely granitic body). A few large smoke trees inhabit the canyon, along with catclaw, desert lavender, locoweed, and other small shrubs.

Sandstone Canyon—East Approach Trail Professional Review and Guide

"Sandstone Canyon has been called the most spectacular small wash in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. After exploring the main canyon and any of its many tributaries, it would be hard to argue with that assertion. The walls of Sandstone Canyon consist of horizontally stacked layers of tan and dark brown sandstone. In some places where the sheer walls soar almost 200 feet, there’s not much room at the bottom for a vehicle to get through. The canyon bottom is filled with granitic sand and boulders, washed down from the south slopes of the Vallecito Mountains (a largely granitic body). A few large smoke trees inhabit the canyon, along with catclaw, desert lavender, locoweed, and other small shrubs."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Julian
Distance: 7
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Season: November through April
Local Contacts: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Local Maps: USGS Arroyo Tapiado, Harper Canyon
Driving Directions: Directions to Sandstone Canyon—East Approach Trail

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May 2018