Anza-Borrego Desert: Oyster Shell Wash Loop

Rating *****
Length 3.1 mile (return) - 2 Hour, 15 minutes (return trip). Easy/Moderate.
Elevation 450 - 1190 feet
Access Fish creek, AWD recommended.

A scenic hike up to the east fork of the Oyster Shell Wash.

Start hiking at the sign Oyster Shell Wash.
Hike in the right wash (no cars).

The first wash on the right is our return wash.
At first glance you don't want to hike this one, don't worry the return trip skips this part.
Hike the second wash to the right.
This one looks a bit more promising but it isn't, so hike back and start hiking up the slick rock on the right of the wash.

This is actually pretty easy and you are above the fall in no time.
A real nice slick rock wash. Follow it and soon hike to the right of it.
As you see the Swiss cheese rocks, a bit similar to the wind caves, look over the saddle to the right.
This isn't an option as the canyon walls are way too steep.
Keep on going up along the rocks and keep more or less level as you go to the left.

A bit further on it's not too difficult to go down into the main wash again. (first wash).
Bringing along a hiking stick makes life a lot easier going down.
On your way down on the gravel wall, seek out the small wash, that only has rocks and no gravel.

Start hiking downhill in the slick rock wash.
Here you probably see only animal prints as we did.

The hike is easy until you hit a rather large dry fall.
Turn back and hike up the right wall (easy).
Is't just a short hike as the wall is almost gone at this point.
Hike further and stay level as you cross a small rock ridge.

Turn right and hike down on the slick rock.

The last part is a bit tricky, just about 50 yards down is the wash, but you have to find a good spot to go down.
We hiked back a bit, until we found a spot we liked, just before the first wash.

How to get here:

Take Split Mountain Road for about 8 miles.

Follow the road towards the Fish Creek campground.
Where the road starts is mostly in the middle of the wash. But in other years at the right hand side of the wash as in 2013.

Road condition vary a lot from year to year.
But normally any AWD should do. The road is sandy with some rocks.

[In some years a regular car can make it all the way towards the wind caves. But unless you check at the visitor center, don't even try.]

As soon as you see the wind cave sign on the left side of the wash (after 5 miles), turn right (Fish Creek North Fork).
Follow the wash road until you see the Oyster Shell Wash on the right.
Park here.

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 State Park) California, Hike with gps, gpx and kml (Google Earth).

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