Pictograph Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

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 190 feet over 0.55 miles. Behind you, there is a grand view over Little Blair Valley and Granite Mountain to the west.

Pictograph Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Looking back over Little Blair Valley
Pictograph Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
The pictograph

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: 33.01965, -116.3598 (33° 01′ 10.7″N 116° 21′ 35″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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Pictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego DesertPictograph Trail Anza-Borrego Desert

These photos were taken in March of 2011. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Morteros Trail
This 0.6-mile hike visits a village of boulders once occupied by Kumeyaay Indians who left behind Morteros, grinding bowls carved into the rock.
Marshal South Cabin Trail 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.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Rainbow Canyon Trail
This 2.2-mile adventure follows an undeveloped trail up a colorful canyon full of vibrant rock formations and desert plants.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail Narrows Earth Trail
This 0.5-mile self-guided hike explores the geology of the park.
Anza-Borrego Desert Trail 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.
Anza-Borrego Desert California Trails Hikes in the California Desert
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California Desert Camping Anza-Borrego Desert Campgrounds
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Tagged with · California State Parks · Free Trails · Julian · Pictographs
Distance: 1.8 miles · Elevation change: 190 feet

2 Comments on Pictograph Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

  1. Jim Whitelock wrote:

    I did this hike yesterday. The pictographs are worth the hike out. Too bad there is not much known about them, as a little knowledge would make them so much more interesting.

  2. […] Anza-Borrego Desert in California. These people drew pictographs on a large boulder seen from the Pictograph Trail in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Ancient rock art can be seen in a number of places in […]

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