Anza-Borrego Desert: Elephant knees West Loop
|7.3 mile (return) - 3 Hour (return trip). Easy/Moderate.
|500 - 750 feet
|High clearance, 4x4 advised, see below.
The area is dominated by the elephant knees, the knees are eroded mud stone and the top brown layer is an ancient reef.
Head South past the foot travel only sign and take the first wash on the right. (South/West).
We follow mud washes and cross the reef layer.
You find shells in the reef layer, but they are seen in the mud.
Basically we go around the main butte, pass the second one and hike back down in between the second and last butte.
The hike is mostly easy, with some small rocks, what might make the hike a bit more difficult is the scramble up and down the ridge (Point "Ridge").
The hill is mud with a soft top layer and some water tunnelling.
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 centre, don't even try.]
As soon as you see the wind cave sign on the left side of the wash (after 5 miles), keep in the same wash, by keeping a bit to the left.
Don't go into the first right fork, but keep left.
Watch out for deep sand in this part, it's sometimes there, sometimes it's not.
On the left hand side look for a small wash going to the left. As of recently it's marked foot travel only.
This is the wash to start the hike.
Some mud hills may be unstable or tunnelled by water.
The Carrizo Impact Area has been in use until 1959. it is an closed off area with unexploded ordnance. Sometimes buried deep in the sand.
The hike is well outside the impact area.
Make sure you don't head further South and stay inside San Diego county.
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