PHOTO: Before all of the blooms are gone, hike through this colorful region. (photo via Flickr/Anza-Borrego State Park)
It was another year of a “super bloom” in California, as the rain-drenched desert put on a spectacle of color this spring. The carpets of wildflowers may be gone already but there’s still plenty of blooms lighting up the desert in a technicolor display.
Anza-Borrego State Park remains alive with color as it celebrates the foundation’s 50-year anniversary this month. In honor of the milestone, the park launched a "5 Hikes for 50 Years" campaign in hopes raising awareness of what it has to offer.
For those with a love of flowers and a passion for hiking, you’ll earn a signed certificate from the park, a commemorative sticker and some pretty colorful memories.
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Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail
This trench descends down the San Isidro Mountains and at the heart of Anza-Borrego's creation in the 1930s. It is located north of the visitor center, and the trailhead is accessible through the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground.
The single-track trail passes through cacti and an active stream, taking hikers to a grand oasis in the desert. Make sure to pick up a pamphlet at the trailhead to look into options for the trek.
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This is one of the more exciting hikes in the area and it’s also pretty short at merely 0.8 miles long. It also has just a 100-foot elevation gain. However, what it may lack in length and height, it delivers in terms of fun.
The narrow canyon doesn’t have a trail marker. You find the beginning of the hike by following the footsteps into the ravine. (You know you are on the correct path if you are following a narrow, steep trail that is straight ahead from the parking lot.)
While it’s brief and adventurous, this hike has another advantage: shade. The canyon provides a respite from the elements of the desert and can make the heat bearable.
This trail is pretty much just what it says, a trail to see pictographs that date back more than 2,000 years. The route is another short one—just 1.8 miles long—out and back with views of Little Blair Valley and Granite Mountain.
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This is a longer hike at four miles and follows an old mining road. It's now a 4x4 path to a mine where you weave your way through rock formations and climb over boulders. After passing a tall rock formation, you’ve reached your destination.
Mountain Palm Springs Loop
To finish off your certificate, visitors will need to complete the Mountain Palm Springs Loop hike. The 5.8 miles takes you along a river and climbs more than 350 feet.