Lower Willows Trail is a hiking and horse trail in San Diego County, California. It is within Santa Rosa Mountains State Wilderness. It is 2.1 miles long and begins at 1,171 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 4.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 376 feet. The Third Crossing parking is near the trailhead. Along the trail there is a parking.
Lower Willows Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"The loop through the willows in this marshy area lures people by the thousands each season. Don’t come here looking for solitude, although you may find such serenity on a weekday or for a few moments within a dense willow patch that blocks the sound and presence of others. The trail on this easy hike alternates between muddy, sandy, and dust-kicking to the point of covering your nose and mouth with a bandana. The route’s qualities depend on weather and water flow, traveling through cool, shaded willow thickets, then out onto the Jeep road and past a historical marker. Typical desert oases make one think of palm trees, but this is an oasis of a different sort. The ever-present water and wooded landscape provide refuge to animals such as the red-spotted toad and such rare birds as the least Bell’s vireo. Outstanding Features: Running water; people on horses; soft, sandy trail alternating with dry, dusty path; and dense willow thickets."
--Sheri McGregor, Day & Overnight Hikes: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (Menasha Ridge Press).
"Soggy Lower Willows, along with its primary source of water—Santa Catarina Spring—together comprise Anza-Borrego’s richest riparian habitat. This hike will introduce you to this surprisingly lush and jungle-like area. Don’t forget your binoculars—the birding is excellent. You’ll be tramping through some muddy areas and probably wading in the stream, so wear old shoes or boots and bring extra footwear to change into when you return to your car."
--Jerry Schad, Afoot & Afield: San Diego County (Wilderness Press).
"The hike up Lower Willows is certain to be a memorable one. In the middle of this arid landscape the trail follows the stream—along it, across it, in it. The well-signed trail is also used by equestrians since it provides access to Collins Valley and upper Coyote Canyon. The use by horses contributes to the muddy quality of the trail. Posted signs remind hikers that this is a fragile area and it is necessary to stay on the trail, which is often the streambed itself."
--Bill & Polly Cunningham, Hiking California's Desert Parks (Falcon Guides).
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