Plum Canyon - Anza Borrego State Park

This is a past event

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Plum Canyon parking

Mile marker 74 on State Route 78 · San Felipe Valley, CA

How to find us

From Julian, take 78 East past Banner Grade and Shelter Valley into Anza Borrego State Park. Continuing over the Grapevine Mtn Pass, watch for the mile markers (74) and a bulletin kiosk that denotes the parking area. 33.128512°, -116.425368°


MODERATE - 5.0 miles round trip, moderate ascent, Terrain: sand, boulders & cholla cactus

PLANT KNOWLEDGE: Beginner to Advanced (Professionals always certainly welcome!)

We finally have confirmation and a location for great winter hike into Anza Borrego State Park, this one at Plum Canyon lead by Larry Hendrickson, Colorado Desert District Botanist for the State Park. Larry has been an extraordinary influence for the preservation of the natural beauty and diversity of the many parks and reserves in the area, including Anza Borrego SP, Rancho Cuyamaca SP, and Palomar Mtn SP and the recreation areas of the Colorado River (Picacho area in particular) and the Salton Sea. He is part of the Botany Society and heads many volunteer excursions to remove invasive species from our fragile desert ecosystems. Plum Canyon is the old trail used by Native Americans, pioneers and travelers before the 78 was created. Named after the Desert apricot (Prunus fremontii) this hike boasts a wide variety of desert and transitional species. Keeping in mind that January is quite early for annual species, the recent rain (~1.2"!) will help along the early flowering perennials and shrubs. This trail is famous for its coverage of red and also orange Chuparosa (Justicia californica) and barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) among many other beautiful cacti. A full checklist of Plum Canyon is available HERE: Anza Borrego trips are always interesting at different times of year and in different areas because something is always unique and surprising, from flora flowering out of season, to superblooms, to the iconic wildlife that survives here. At the very least, this trip promises to provide a great day in bearable temperatures in the desert.

This hike is about 5.7 miles, so take plenty of water and snacks in a lightweight backpack to pack in our cameras and fresh socks and what not. The difficulty is MODERATE so be prepared to climb a steep trail and perhaps do a bit of rock hopping, especially to examine pockets and slots along the way. Rattlesnakes are present, though they should be in winter dormancy. The forecast has a possibility for the next rain that weekend, so check in here with updates - too much rain will cancel this trip. CARPOOLING: At the Fashion Valley transit center (West end of mall near Fashion Valley Rd) in Mission Valley, I will have four seats available from 8 AM, leaving promptly at 8:15 AM. I encourage using carpools set up amongst yourselves, but bring trucks and 4x4 vehicles if possible. We will meet at the parking location and then use trucks to get to the entrance of Plum Canyon along dirt roads, some parts with sand. IF YOU HAVE A TRUCK WITH 4 WHEEL DRIVE, PLEASE VOLUNTEER FOR CARPOOLING. ALSO, IF YOU RSVP - PLEASE COME TO THE TRIP OR REMOVE YOUR ATTENDANCE. Thank You all and see you on that Sunday!