Anza-Borrego Desert: Bitter Creek Loop

Rating *****
length 8.7 Mile, 5 hour, 15 minutes (Return trip). Moderate, but a lot of scrubs.
Elevation 1950 - 3400 feet
Access At Hwy 78, mile 74.1, exit into the Grapevine canyon.

An interesting loop into Bitter Creek Forks.

The climate in this creek is different from other parts of the park.
Mesquite is found in the middle part of most washes.

Hike up Bitter creek, the wash starts in the left of the canyon.
A bit over a mile, take the rocky canyon/wash to the right (west).
Not too far and you encounter the first Mesquite barrier.
Mesquite is not that bad as cat claw, but there are enough of them.

After bypassing about 3 Mesquite barriers, the otherwise sandy wash is easy to hike up on.
In April 2012 the wash was spectacular, filled wither never ending fields of yellow. (Mimulus brevipes, Wide-throated Yellow Monkeyflower, in the small canyon and in the main canyon below the fork)

This is also the only wash we ever found them in the park.

The wash gets steeper, followed by longer dry falls, nothing difficult.
As the hiking in the wash is no longer an option, go right up the wall.
The hike up is sandy with some rocks, and steep. It's more strenuous than difficult.
Don't get to far from the small canyon wash on the left.

Once up, at point "easy" it's an easy stroll to the saddle.
A fence, go over or underneath.
Follow the fence to the right, look for the PCT below, continue until you see a saddle.
Over the saddle, follow the ridge down towards the PCT. (Easy)

Follow the PCT left (south).
The PCT stays level.
Around the bend, where the trail goes north/east, at a crossing with wash, turn left, up that rocky wash.

Once on the saddle, you can see the canyon/wash below. Hike down on the grass, on an easy descend.
As you encounter the fence, only go over it when you need to.
The fence blocks the wash a couple of times.
The easy parts to cross the fence are mostly when the wash crosses the fence.

Some more dry water falls, and Mesquite.
In the main canyon the Mesquite problem is more severe.

At point "Bypass Begin" keep out of the wash, up to point "Bypass End", not much of a problem to hike out of the wash, only lots of plants/cacti that want to sting.

Watch out for a lone Cotton tree on the right, that marks a mostly dry spring.
There is also a bad tub closer to the main wash.

The hike is marked difficult, so you think twice before hiking this trail.
It's actually more a moderate hike, with a scramble up the last part up to the top.

In 2012 a fire destroyed much of the vegetation, but it's growing back and the wild flowers are even better.

How to get here:

At Hwy 78, mile 74.1, exit into the Grapevine canyon, drive for 1.9 mile, disregard a branch to the left to a small parking (Grapevine Summit Parking).
The road is a sand road, but good, you need some ground clearance.
Park just before the crossing, Grapevine / Yaqui Well.

Disclaimer: Read this first before you start your hike. Contact: info/at/borregohiking/./com (leave out the /)
Hiking the Borrego Springs Area (Anza-Borrego Desert SP, Cuyamaca Rancho SP, Imperial Sand Dunes (Algodones Dunes), Laguna Mountain, Warner Springs) California, Hike with gps, gpx and kml (Google Earth).

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