Pinyon Wash and Coyote Canyon in Anza Borrego

By Forrest Smith -

I have a strong desire to propel myself through a landscape, which usually takes the form of hiking or backpacking in the wilderness. In southern California, where fewer opportunities exist for such activity, I’ve had to find other ways. My main goal currently is to explore the many dirt roads and paths through the desert areas by bike. I want to find cool canyons, interesting rock formations, and hidden oases. 

This past weekend was my first foray into the desert with my bike. I had a few ideas in mind, but no real plan. I just knew I wanted to do the first bits of exploration and to find some old roads that could lead to promising exploration at some point in the future. 

Pinyon Wash

I actually started with a quick ride out Quartz Vein Wash, which really didn’t go anywhere. I hit the end of that road within 5 minutes, climbed up a few boulders at the end of the canyon, looked up at the hill and saw a bighorn sheep staring back down at me.  

My first real ride was up Pinyon wash. I knew the road didn’t go too far (11 miles round trip), but after driving, I was just really ready to get out on my bike. The ride was pleasant enough and it ended with some large granite boulder where I had a quick lunch. Looking at my map afterwards, I’m wondering how easy it is to connect over the ridge to another road. Perhaps there is actually more exploration to be done up this canyon.

Desert Landscape up Pinyon Wash - Anza Borrego

Coyote Canyon

After returning to the car, I definitely wanted to explore more. I headed up north of Borrego Springs since I wanted to check out Coyote Canyon. This dirt road, which is popular with off-road trucks, was a pretty cool. Coyote Creek was running, which made for a nice break listening to the sounds of water running through the desert. 

I only intended to head out this road a few miles to check it out, and save it for later, but for some reason I kept going. There were literally five times where I planned on turning back to save the rest of it for later, but I kept finding reasons to continue. Eventually I climbed to a high point, just to see the view, which I thought made for a good turn-around point, but then I noticed the palm trees a bit in the distance, so of course I was going to have to check those out.

Anza Borrego

I really like the mountains that rise out of Borrego Springs.

I spotted the palms and of course had to check this little oasis out.

Palm trees in Anza Borrego 

Palm Oasis in Anza Borrego

It’s quite peaceful within a palm oasis. 

Anza Borrego Mountains

The mountains look fairly rugged in the distance, with canyons and more palm oases to explore. I definitely will come back at some point and push deeper into the landscape.

Afternoon in Anza Borrego

Late afternoon light — I love being out in late afternoon and early evening. 

Light in Anza Borrego Desert

I wanted to make the most of the day — I arrived back at the car right at sundown (which currently is shortly after 5:00). I did quite a bit of riding, but I was definitely ready for more. I guess I’ll have to return and check out some new areas. 

Coyote Valley - Anza Borrego