Anza-Borrego Desert: Palo Verde - Smoke Tree - Loop

Rating *****
length 8.5 mile (the loop) - 4 hour, 15 minutes (the loop). Moderate.
Elevation 770 - 1950 feet
Access Park roadside, S22, Mile 32.5.

The best of two canyons, up the Palo Verde Wash and back in the Smoke Tree Wash.

Hike North.
The first part is more cross country, following some rocky washes.
After about 1000 yards, you will find the main wash, follow the more sandy part of the wash.
As the hiking trail is on the east side of the wash, try to hike on the right (east) side of the wash.

The trail, is not that easy to find. It starts at a rocky ridge, see picture.


If you can't find it, search for the second trail.
Hike further into the main canyon, past the white rocks on the left.
On the right side (east) of the canyon, you may have to look back in order to see it, is the trail.
This trail leads directly along the Moly Mine, cross over to the other side of the canyon to pick up the trail.

Alternative End.

On your left you see the Moly Mine entrance.
The trail leads over the ridge in the middle of the canyon.
The trail should be easy to follow up to the saddle.

The topo map calls this the Coach Whip Canyon Road.
But it doesn't end up in the Coach Whip Canyon.

Down the saddle, you see the rugged Smoke Tree canyon.
Suddenly, you are in front of the Smoke Tree canyon.
The trail leads left (north/east), along the canyon wall.
If you have problems with heights, it looks a bit scary.
But it isn't that steep and the trail is surprisingly good.
Some granite rocks, keep everything in place.
The scary part is only short, after that the trail leads gradually into the Smoke Tree Canyon.

At this point you are very close to the Natural Rock Tanks.
So go right down the wash (south) and almost immediately go left (east)

The hike up to the Natural Rock Tanks, is more tricky, remember the way you came up.
Because going up is easier, than coming back down.
Climbing up some dry falls.
Even though the tanks are quite deep, there normally isn't any water over here.

Go back into the Smoke Tree Canyon and hike down the wash (south/west).
The Smoke Tree Canyon is less tame, dry falls and boulders.

The only serious obstacle is at point "fall".
A fall with a crack on the left side, that makes coming down almost easy.
A couple of boulders, there is a passage more to the middle.

A narrow, really scenic with some boulders, but never really difficult.

Gradually the wash enters the badlands, so more sand, less boulders.

Cross the asphalt and continue in the Smoke Tree Wash.
All of a sudden the Palo Verde Trees are there again, blooming end of March, April.

Turn right into the Palo Verde Wash (north/west) and keep a bit to the left.
There is also a dirt road in the wash.

Where the dirt road meets the S22, keep on going towards the car (left, north/west), a bit away from the asphalt. for another 0.4 mile.

A shorter alternative.

How to get here:

Where the Palo Verde wash crosses the road (Signed at the south side), drive back 0.4 mile towards Borrego Springs (West).

Look for the ditch to the North, you have to hike just west of that ditch.
Park roadside, S22, Mile 32.5

Why start here? Because following the Palo Verde wash, you may, just as well end up in another wash.
Two canyons along this route are more obvious than the Palo Verde Canyon.

About the Mine: Mollie Mine, Moly Mine, Molly Mine.

Worked 1927 to 1932. It was owned by Mollie and Frank Clark (not related to the cattle men Clark at Clark Dry Lake) who had a home on a ledge W of the Palo Verde Wash.
The workings consisted of 2 adits, each about 50 ft long, following 2 promising quartz veins.
Data from

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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