The Spine of Desert Trails

At the V-shaped junction where California S-3 swings north toward Borrego Valley from California 78, are a tumble of low ridges and canyons, a campground and a trio of nature trials that make up a scenic section of Anza-Borrego State Park.

One path begins atop Yaqui Pass; the other two begin opposite Tamarisk Grove Campground, a pleasant place to stay or to picnic.

From Yaqui Pass, Kenyon Overlook (1 1/4 mile round trip) leads a quarter-mile to a viewpoint. Below sprawls the Mescal Bajada, one of the largest bajadas (delta-like fans of gravel and silt) in the state park. Mescal, or desert agave, is the dominant plant.

The trail continues to a second overlook, then weaves three-quarters of a mile through low desert flora of creosote bush, cacti and jojoba to undeveloped Yaqui Pass Campground and the trail's end. Walk 200 yards along California S-3 back to the trail head.

Cactus Loop Trail (one mile round trip) ascends a rocky slope past a diversity of cacti--beaver tail, barrel, fishhook and cholla. Most spectacular are the large six-foot-high teddy-bear cholla.

Yaqui Well Trail (two miles round trip) leads to a narrow waterfall that attracts birds and bird-watchers.

Ironwood, willow and mesquite thrive around Yaqui Well, which attracts abundant wildlife. From nearby Yaqui Well Primitive Camp, you can join dirt Grapevine Canyon Road, which follows ironwood- and mesquite-lined San Felipe Creek. The road meets California S-3 just short of the trial head.

Directions to trial head: Kenyon Overlook begins at a signed trail head atop Yaqui Pass on California S-3, 12 1/2 miles from the park visitors center. Drive 1 1/2 miles over the pass on S-3 to reach Tamarisk Grove Campground and the signed trail heads for Cactus Loop Trail and Yaqui Well Trail.


Kenyon Overlook, Cactus Loop, Yaqui Well Trails

* Where: Tamarisk Grove

Campground/Yaqui Pass area of state park

* Distance: 1 to 2 miles each round trip

* Terrain: Cactus-covered slopes

* Highlights: Rich desert flora, excellent bird-watching at Yaqui Well

* Degree of Difficulty: Easy

* For More Information: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, Calif., 92004; tel. (619) 767-5311 or visitors center (619) 767-4205.

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