This short gradual 0.6-mile round trip hike ascends to an area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park that was once inhabited by Kumeyaay Indians. The Kumeyaay left behind morteros, grinding bowls carved into large boulders along the trail. These Native Americans used the circular morteros over 2,000 years ago to grind local nuts and seeds into meal.
From the well-marked trailhead above Blair Valley, begin hiking southwest toward a gap in the hillside. In no time, the single track reaches a city of boulders on the right side of the pass. Several footpaths explore these boulders.
The main trail ends at a prominent obelisk-shaped rock. Morteros are carved into the flat boulder on the far side of the rock. Trace your way back amongst the boulders and hunt out other grinding bowls. When you have seen enough, return down the trail, enjoying a nice view over Little Blair Valley. To learn more about Native American life in the Anza-Borrego Desert, visit the nearby Pictograph Trail. No fee or permit is required to hike Morteros Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, so get out and enjoy.
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.
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 one mile ahead on the right.
Trailhead address: Blair Valley, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Julian, CA 92036
Trailhead coordinates: 33.00895, -116.3784 (33° 00′ 32.2″N 116° 22′ 42.2″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.
|Pictograph Trail |
This 1.8-mile hike visits rock paintings drawn by Kumeyaay Indians who lived in the Anza-Borrego Desert thousands of years ago.
|Marshal South Home Trail |
This 1.3-mile hike ascends to the ruins of an adobe cabin on Ghost Mountain (Yaquitepec) with great views above Blair Valley.
|Rainbow Canyon Trail |
This 2.2-mile adventure follows an undeveloped trail up a colorful canyon full of vibrant rock formations and desert plants.
|Narrows Earth Trail |
This 0.5-mile self-guided hike explores the geology of the park.
|The Slot |
This short hike descends through a narrow canyon beneath a natural rock span that is among the most photographed landmarks in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
|Hikes in the California Desert |
Explore more trails in Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and Mojave National Preserve.
|Anza-Borrego Desert Campgrounds |
Four developed campgrounds, eight primitive campgrounds, and extensive roadside camping accommodate your visit to California's largest state park.
|Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers |
The desert bloom brings bursts of color to barrel cactus, beavertail cactus, ocotillo, and more.