Anza-Borrego Desert: Dave Mc Cain spring loop

Rating *****
Length 5.6 mile (Round trip) - 3 Hour 40 Minutes (Round trip). Moderate.
Elevation 2450 - 3220 feet
Access High Clearance 4x4, see below.

This loop explores the washes above the dry David Mc Cain Spring.
Explore the rough terrain, with great views of Whale Peak.
The hike starts out real easy, but will gradually become more challenging as the route goes cross country.
We evaded the boulder part, after we tried it, but the boulders are huge and the canyon steep.

The way around is in a smaller drainage, by no means easy, the terrain is rough and rocky with plenty of scrubs.
In the first part Agave pose the greatest obstacle.
Once over the ridge continue in the sandy wash.
A wildlife water gathering spot is worth exploring, there are many of these installations in the Anza-Borrego Desert, mostly in remote areas.
There is another one on the right once you descent steeply back toward the car.

Continue in the sandy wash, eventually as it fades, head west in a small drainage that leads to a rather steep wash.
Doesn't look that inviting, but isn't that bad to follow down, except that the same area is favoured by jumping cholla.
On the left hand is granitic rocks, huge plates and boulders, on the other side loose rock on top of sand.
Loosely following the drainage seems to be the best options, avoiding the jumping cholla.

Warning:
Be prepared to remove jumping cholla, so carry at least a comb and tweezers.

How to get here:

Take Split Mountain Road for about 8 miles.

Follow the wash road towards the Fish Creek campground.
The road may start anywhere in the wash.

Road condition vary a lot from year to year.
The road is sandy with some rocks.

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 North fork, but keep left.
The wash you are entering should be signed South Fork.
Keep left at the two exits towards Loop wash road. So don't enter the Loop road as it's more difficult to drive.

After 5.2 mile from the entrance of the South Fork, you reach the unmarked Diablo exit.
Keep right at all crossings, so stay on the main road, that will get extremely sandy.
From the Diablo exit it's another 8 mile to the signed Dave Mc Cain exit.
This is the most difficult 8 miles in deep sand and a canyon that narrows considerably.
Watch out for hidden rocks and boulders.
On this part you definitely need your ground clearance and 4x4.
We have 8.7 Inch of ground clearance and didn't encounter problems that you can't evade. But things may change rapidly.

At the Dave Mc Cain exit follow the road for another easy mile.

Warning:
Don't even think about trying this without a 4x4, the sand is really soft and deep.
Be prepared for a long drive, just about 19.2 mile on a wash road.
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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