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April 07, 2019

Maidenhair Falls–Hellhole Canyon, Borrego Springs

With the recent rains in San Diego made this a good weekend to visit another of the seasonal waterfalls.

I've visited the waterfalls in Los Penasquitos Canyon and on the Piedras Pintadas before.  These are the 2 easiest waterfalls to reach.  The largest and most spectacular waterfall in San Diego County is Ceder Creek Falls.  There are other ideas for local 'after it rains' hikes on my blog HERE.

At only 20' in height Maidenhair Falls is the tallest waterfall in Anza Borrego.  The trailhead is from the Hellhole Canyon parking area just before Borrego Springs on S-22.
Although the trail is  less than 6 miles RT it is not to be underestimated, the boulder scramble is not for the novice.  It is a bit of a challenge, more so for this experienced geriatric hiker.  I'd still rate this trail as moderate.
The trail begins along wide sandy wash, where we viewed the wildflowers a few weeks with friends Doug and Marilyn. There are still a large number of flowers in bloom, although mostly past their peak, the Painted Ladies were taking advantage of what was left.  Painted Ladies by the thousands - tens-of-thousands!
There is no shade on the first mile of the trail. I'm carrying a couple extra bottles that I can stash in the shade for the return trip.
The first palm grove provides some welcome shade.

The mortero is a sign of the Kumeyaay, and is that a yani? 

There are lots of polliwogs in the seasonal stream, not many will survive the summer. 
A waterfall!  Would be nice to say this is the Maidenhair, but alas there are more rocks to scramble

The second palm grove makes for a nice long break and my first PB&J burrito.

In the shade of the sycamore trees I take my final break and contemplate how I'll get back down this being the steepest section of the trail, just behind the branches on the right in this photo.
Whew! The final reward is a flowing waterfall. This is my first time to the base of Maidenhair Falls. The top of the falls can be reached following the wash from Pena Spring. That is also a nasty rock scramble to a viewpoint.

Little Surprise Canyon is accessed from the same parking area, with its trailhead behind the restrooms.  Sunrise comes late to this narrow steep walled canyon.  At 8 AM the sun has not yet begun to warm the southern hillsides
This is a short canyon with a couple side canyons.  In all it might total 1 mile RT, but filled with 'little surprises' as the north and south walls of the canyon vastly differ in their diversity.
The suncups curl up for the night, and are just opening as the sun begins to warm them
Only the purplemat is thriving on the bare desert floor.
The purpose of this trip was Maidenhair Falls, the continued wildflowers were a very pleasant bonus.  I had thought of doing both canyons as a day trip. I certainly overestimated the time it would take. Having Rufus allowed for a good night and the ability to catch Little Surprise Canyon just waking up.
There were No Bad Days this weekend!

March 31, 2019

Dust Devil Nature Trail - Urban Hiking Del Mar

We woke up to a postcard perfect morning, under blue skies and low 70s.  It’s also Spring Break and the beaches are packed with a line of cars a mile in all directions to pick a spot on the sand to show off the latest in spandex or thong wear.

Last week I enjoyed the Piedras Pintadas Trail, which is part of the San Dieguito River Park and the Coast to Crest trail system.

I was looking for a short hike this week that would not be heavily traveled.  While looking over the offerings of the San Dieguito River Park trails I decided the Dust Devil Nature Trail would fit the requirements.  It is within the San Dieguito park, but not part of the Coast to Crest trails.

Fran and I set out to do the 3 loops, from looking at the map it we decided to do the north loop first and take the trail to the right at every intersection.

The three loops of the trail are all short and dog (on leash) friendly.  We follow my plan of right turns, doing the north loop first.  Right at the trail head there is a sign describing the Dust Devils.  They are a group of volunteers who help establish and maintain the trails within the San Dieguito Park system.

The small picnic area could use a bit of attention of the Dust Devils as it is getting a bit overgrown.

Cirque du Soleil is under the big top at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  Tickets start at $49 … a bit out of our range.

There are several benches spaced throughout all three loops.  I suspect this one is to watch the wildlife in the meadow, or to count the passing trucks on I-5.

Not much in wildlife, besides the lone caterpillar Fran spotted, there are quite a few waterfowl in the marsh.

The next right turn (I took this picture from the other side to avoid the sun shadows) leads to the center loop and a view point. 

This section of the trail forks, but either way leads to a view point, to be consistent we took the right fork.

Not as many flowers as I had expected, especially after the abundance of blooms along Piedras Pintadas.

The view point is a bit closer to the waterfowl.  If you come out here bring a spotting scope or binoculars to get a better view.

The backseat of my dad’s Oldsmobile would have gotten me just about as close :)

Certainly this was a good day, but do not expect to return, unless the north or south loop is extended to connect to the Coast to Crest trail system.  I hope you too have No Bad Days!

March 22, 2019

Piedras Pintadas - Urban Hiking Escondido

A few weeks ago I spent the morning in Piedras Grandes (Big Rocks) of Anza Borrego.  Today I wandered the Piedras Pintadas (Painted Rocks).  Which is now part of the Coast to Crest trail system there is now ample parking near the trailhead, trail maintenance and signage.

 The wide trail straight ahead is the Bernardo Bay trail.  Both trails are easy and with time permitting can easily be combined.  But I need to be home by 3 PM and will see how well I manage my time.
Piedras Pintadas trail head
The hillsides are full of color
The trails are well marked
Bernardo Bay trail soon has a small fork
Easy to miss this turn
Bridge over Green Valley Creek
A lot of water in the creek
In memorial for Chelsea King

17 year old Chelsea King was raped and murdered at this spot in 2010. 
Chelsea’s Light is a foundation to ensure this does not happen again
First view of the White Pelicans
Lots of water after all the rain
The City of San Diego maintains this area of the park
These two young were busted by Ranger Paul.  I was detained as a witness to their crime of 'being boys'.  Ranger Paul was great explaining the situation, sacred rocks, etc.  He did not want their last names so it could be left out of his report, I was not that fortunate – he also wanted my phone number! I guess insurance against some parent calling the park later. 

Most of the rock art is near the falls.  The right light and a pair of binoculars are needed to see more of them.
A few Pictographs on the center rock

Morteros under the large Coastal Oak
Trail continues down to lake
Heron, Osprey, White Pelicans
A bit of a rock scramble
A rabbit!
Wildflowers seen along the trail, there were way more than I would have expected. 


This little hummer was singing happily above the trail on the return.  Certainly No Bad Days for either of us!, Although I did miss my deadline getting home :)