Anza-Borrego Desert: Bighorn Canyon - Blue Spring - Nolina Canyon Loop
||10 mile (the loop) - 5 hour (Return trip). Easy (1: same way return)/moderate (2: the loop).
||1500 - 3000 feet
||On HWY 78 close to MP 81, turn in the dirt road signposted Pinyon Wash. You need some ground clearance.
A hike in a stunning canyon to a spring. You can make a loop, by hiking to the Nolina canyon.
Option 1: To the spring and return:
On HWY 78 close to MP 81, turn in the dirt road signposted Pinyon Wash.
This is a nice dirt road, but you need a bit of clearance.
Follow the road up to the first fork.
Take the right fork and park.
Start hiking west, for about 200 yards, until you come in the sandy wash out of the Bighorn Canyon.
The Bighorn Canyon is hard to spot, because it's at the wrong angle.
Hiking up the canyon (no cars allowed), you will see the canyon entrance to the left.
The hike up to the canyon entrance and in the canyon is mostly firm sand.
Probably due to the fact that it's not reachable by car and less hiked.
Follow the main wash, but it's sometimes hard to tell if you follow the right one.
Follow the foot and hoof prints.
First you will spot the water tanks, at this point there is a drinking box.
Unfortunately this is also a dead trap for bees and insects.
You can see the pipes running up into the canyon. The pipes end in a small dry waterfall.
This ends the easy part of the hike.
Further on there are some more falls, but when you can cross this one to the left, you can cross the others as well.
In spring the soil may be moist and insects will drink the water.
In February 2011, there was no water, but the ground was moist enough for the bees.
In February 2014, it was completely dry.
Further up the wash there is an even higher fall and it looks pretty steep further on.
Turn back the way you came. But you must turn right at the next wash and take a short look into this spectacular canyon.
Wind and rain formed holes and sand pillars.
This is also the way to go, when you decide to loop into the next Nolina canyon.
Hiking time: 4 Hour, 30 Minutes (return the same way.)
Option 2: A loop to the Nolina Canyon and back to the car:
Coming back from the spring, turn right into the next canyon.
This is the canyon with the spectacular hole rocks.
There are two ways to get across. One is to the left where you see the brown boulders and another one to the right.
The left one is the easiest way to go. Sandstone and the boulders are helpful getting up.
Once at the top hike left and follow the ridge, it's easy to get down into the small sandy wash below.
Follow this wash downhill until is forks again and again into the Nolina Canyon.
This stretch is mostly sand with some boulders and small drops.
At the end of the canyon you find a parking.
This is the dirt road towards the car.
But try to go more in a straight line toward the car, into the wash. Following the road more or less.
Hiking time: 5 Hour for the complete loop.
A nice side trip: Bighorn Canyon First Fork.
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