Carrizo Gorge Railroad: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Who would build a trail in the desert? Nobody, that’s who. Typically, desert parks have few trails and Anza-Borrego is no different. There are, however, many exciting destinations if one knows where to look.

The open landscapes lend themselves to cross-country travel, though if you choose this option please make sure you go prepared with the proper supplies and navigation skills. Other non-trail options include following canyons, dirt roads, and railroads.

As part of our 9 day journey into the Colorado Desert of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park we choose to do a hike which combined all of these options.

The easiest route to our trailhead from route S2 is to take the Mortero Canyon Road Southwest and then follow Dos Cabeza Road until the end. Despite the many warnings that the San Diego and Arizona East Railway, better known as the Carrizo Gorge Railroad, is in use and that “trespassers” have been issued citations, we decided to hike along the tracks anyways. We found many signs of hikers and bikers doing the same, as well as signs that the tracks were not much used by locomotives.

anzaborrego desert state park; california; desert; trees This fan palm oasis provided a nice lunch spot.

This fan palm oasis provided a nice lunch spot.

The original plan was to reach the famed Goat Canyon Trestle, about 6 miles out, but other sights caught our eyes. A native fan palm oasis seemed the perfect spot for lunch on this hot day, so we scrambled downhill to reach one. We lazed around for a bit then followed the wash around back, towards the tracks, and through another oasis. It was here that we found our first Native American artifact of the trip, a mortero just sitting in the middle of the wash.

An unnamed, closed road passing at the base of Indian Hill acted as our route back towards the car. We hoped to find a pictograph site near Indian Hill but our limited time searching yielded no results.

anzaborrego desert state park; california; desert We hoped to find a collection of pictographs somewhere around here. The search was not successful.

We hoped to find a collection of pictographs somewhere around here. The search was not successful.

We didn’t see the Goat Canyon Trestle or the pictographs, but we did travel some beautiful country and enjoyed our hike.

Other blogs on Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

For more information on and adventures in state parks, visit our California State Park Guide.

Download