Pictograph Trail provides a 1.8-mile out and back hike to an elephant-sized canvas, otherwise known as a boulder, that was used by Kumeyaay Indian painters who lived in the Anza-Borrego Desert over two thousand years ago.
From the trailhead, hike east up a shallow draw in the ridgeline, gaining 150 feet over 0.55 miles. Behind you, there is a grand view over Little Blair Valley and Granite Mountain to the west.
Looking back over Little Blair Valley
The trail curves slightly to the right along the edge of a small elevated valley, arriving at a large isolated boulder. On the north face, there is a collection of red symbols painted on the rock. The meaning of the pictograph is not completely known. Invent your own story, or simply stand and wonder what life was like in the Anza-Borrego Desert two thousand years ago.
These days, it is less than a mile walk back to your automobile at the trailhead. To extend the hike, continue half a mile past the pictograph up to a knob-like rise in the ridge to the east. Backpackers may also set out northward on an off trail ascent of Whale Peak, the 5,350-foot mountain towering over the pictograph. To learn more about Native American life in the Anza-Borrego Desert, hike the nearby Morteros Trail. And of course, please keep the pictograph free of graffiti.
To get to the trailhead: From Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, drive 5 miles southwest on Borrego Springs Road. Turn right on Route S3 (Yaqui Pass Road) and drive 7 miles south over the ridge to Tamarisk Grove. Turn right on Route 78, heading west for another seven miles to Route S2. Turn left and drive six miles southeast to Blair Valley. Turn left off the pavement and head east through Blair Valley Campground. From here, it is 3.7 miles over well-maintained dirt roads to the trailhead. There are campsites along the road, as well as a few side roads, so stick to the main channel. Drive 2.7 miles around the north edge of Blair Valley to a T-junction. Turn left, following the sign for Morteros and Pictograph Trail. The trailhead is 2.3 miles ahead at road’s end.
Trailhead address: Blair Valley, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Julian, CA 92036
Trailhead coordinates: 33.019574, -116.359625 (33° 01′ 10.46″N 116° 21′ 34.64″W)
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