Anza-Borrego Desert: Jigsaw Wash loop
||5.4 Mile - 3 hour, 15 minutes (Loop), Moderate (Steep terrain).
||700 - 1360 feet
||4x4 only, see below.
Wow another fine canyon in the Lycium wash area.
Right at the start a couple of challenging dry falls, the first one is easy to bypass taking the ridge on the right (East).
A couple more rocky, very scenic falls and at point "easy" the falls end, for the time being.
Notice the many natural tanks, that may have given this wash the name jigsaw.
One bigger obstacle is "Fall 1", hike back and scramble up the West canyon wall when you can safely do so.
There is an actual trail up there, but do not follow and head back into the canyon below.
The canyon forks a couple of times, keep in the main fork, but that may be hard without a GPS.
Follow the canyon wash all the way up to a saddle and descend into the upper part of the No Return canyon.
A sandy canyon at first but be aware of the sudden staggering drop, wow what a drop.
Head back and go over the ridge, picking up speed, this is going 3-4 times as fast on faint sheep/Indian trails.
The wash to the right was like a magnet, but watch out where you end up.
Hiking mainly above the wash, takes you back to the Lycium wash close to the car.
GPS provides you with an approximation of the actual route, the real route may be off by at least 100 yards.
At some points along this route, there are abrupt drops of several hundred feet.
The terrain may be challenging and slippery at times, a couple of dry falls are rather steep and dangerous if you follow the wrong route.
That said for an experience hiker this hike is rated moderate.
For extra safety good boots are essential and a hiking stick is a must.
How to get there:
From Ocotillo Wells take the split mountain road.
Turn right at the sign Fish Creek Campground.
The road should be close to the middle of the wash.
Follow the wash road. At the Wind Caves (signed) keep right in the wash and turn right into the Fish Creek North Fork (signed).
Disregard, the Oyster "road" to the right.
So take the second wash "road" to the right, signed Lycium wash.
Drive the wash "road" all the way to the end.
The North Fork is at least one notch more difficult to drive than the South fork, a high clearance 4x4 is essential.
This wash road will challenge the clearance of a regular SUV, we drive a Subaru Forester and we come close to it's ground clearance at times.
Road conditions in the North Fork can change in a week.
Be prepared, we carry a couple of sand plates, to raise our ground clearance in case we get stuck and in this fork we had to use them a couple of times.
At days, even in "high" season, traffic may be low and you may be the only one travelling this fork for the day.
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