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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!

8 comments:

  1. The wildflowers are so beautiful this year. We can't get enough of them. We've never been to Maidenhair for more than a trickle. What luck to see a real fall!!

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    1. I recall your post on this hike and know you are aware of the pesky rock scramble. It was not 'luck' to see the falls - I knew there was water or I would not have gone!

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  2. What a wonderful hike and a good workout, love your pictures, nice there is still some wildflowers there.

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    1. It was for sure a good workout! The flowers were a bonus, I did not expect them in such abundance, nor the massive numbers of Painted Ladies

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  3. will have to add that hike to my list

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    1. It's definitely a challenge, so check first to be sure there is water in the falls. As just a hike it's really not worth the effort.

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  4. Would be awesome to see a waterfall in AB. Does look like a challenging hike.

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    1. The old saying 'it's the journey not the destination', well this is achalling hike and it's all about the destination!

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Your comments are always appreciated!