Anza-Borrego Desert: Fages monument to Banner
||11.8 mile - 5-8 hour (one way). Easy/Moderate.
||4720 - 2560 feet
||All cars, see below.
This hike starts at the Fages monument on the Sunrise Highway ends close to Banner.
Start following the California Riding and Hiking trail, (CRH) in a beautiful meadow.
The CRH than follows he Mason Valley Truck Trail and shortly thereafter the PCT joins the road.
Next leave the CRH and follow the marked PCT.
The PCT now winds down the hill and meets the Chariot Canyon Road.
Now leave the PCT that heads in the opposite direction and head left (north) once again on the CRH.
This is a scenic dirt road following Chariot canyon, as the road leaves ABDSP and head into private property of the old Julian mining district.
Dirt roads go left and right towards the many abandoned mines and prospects.
Option 1: 6-8 hours:
At point "Xing 1" turn right on the dirt road and follow it a while and turn left on the not maintained CRH, that's impossible to follow without a GPS.
The last part enters the San Felipe Valley Wildlife Area, that is open to the public, at the marked point there is a gate.
This last part op the hike is without any trace of the CRH, so just go cross country.
This is a very long one way hike, the last part of the California Riding and Hiking trail is no longer maintained, so expect a bush walk in a chemise forest.
The road and trails are only very faintly visible at times, expect no signs at all.
Chemise isn't too bad, so it's certainly still doable (2016).
Don't even try this last part without a GPS you will surely get lost.
Again expect crawling over a fence, scrambling and find a way in a sometimes dense chemise bush, on unmaintained dirt roads and trails.
Option 2: 5-6 hours:
This is the easy sane route, keep left at point "Xing 1" and just follow the road to Banner.
Close to Banner there is a closed gate, but it should never be locked.
Make sure to park at mile marker 69.9 in Banner.
As the CRH trail is badly maintained on some parts of this hike, or may change its route, you may cross into private land following this GPS route, where it's no longer permitted.
How to get here:
This is a car shuttle hike.
Park one car at the Fages monument on the S1 (Sunrise Highway), mile marker 36.
Park the other car just east off Banner on the 78, make sure to park at the right spot.
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