Anza-Borrego Desert: Box Canyon Dry lake and Playas
||9.8 mile (Round trip) - 5 Hour, 20 minutes (Round trip). Moderate.
||1180 - 2740 feet
||Some ground clearance, park at Third Crossing.
The hike starts on the right hand side of Lower Willows.
Hike along the hiking trail until it meets Box Canyon on the right (North).
Now follow the Box Canyon wash, that's slightly rocky from the start.
Some boulders and a small dry fall up to the second fork heading east.
Soon after entering the fork (500 yards) head out the canyon at point "Out" and hike up the ridge on the right (East).
Once on the ridge the old Native American trail should be easy to find.
The "trail" follows the obvious terrain and is about 20% trail and 80% imagination.
At point "Sand" leave the "trail" and head west. Hiking from this point on is easy, as the terrain is rather flat.
Reaching the second sandy stretch, head north to point "Lake", the only true small dry lake in the area.
Now head north/east to point "Playa 1" a sandy stretch with what might be a small pool but with drainage into Butler Canyon.
Follow a small drainage south/east and as it meets a drainage from the west, go up that drainage heading west.
"Playa 2" is another sandy stretch with drainage into Butler Canyon and Coyote Canyon.
Pick up the "trail" heading west.
The most sensible (easy) thing to do right now, is following this "trail" back towards Box Canyon. So head back on the same trail.
This GPS route heads east down into the most rocky fork of Box Canyon, A.K.A. First Fork.
The more sensible route would be on the west ridge along the canyon, avoiding all the boulders.
Look here for the trail on the ridge.
Make sure to keep on the ridge (west) as the ash wash loop leaves the ridge (south).
Follow the ridge all the way down, ending at the end of Box Canyon.
At the end of the ridge head into the drainage on the east and enter Box Canyon.
But if you are interested in plants and the area got some water, the more difficult rocky canyon is the place to be.
You find a plant list further down this page. Or a more detailed Plant list here.
How to get here:
Drive into the Coyote canyon (Di Gorgio rd)
Cross first crossing (normally dry), second crossing (normally wet) and park just before third crossing.
Generally the road is OK for cars with some ground clearance. Expect some soft sand and small rocks.
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