Anza-Borrego State Park offers a wide variety of mountain bike trails for all levels of experience. There are over 500 miles of roads and trails that are open to bicycles in the park. Most jeep roads and paved roads are also open to bikers. However, bikes are prohibited on hiking trails unless they are specifically designated for biking. Bikers must also stay on roads and trails at all times. Don’t leave the road seeking your own route. If you are ready to experience some of the most beautiful hiking and cycling the area has to offer, grab your CamelBak, other Hydration Pack or Hydroflask and get out on the trail!
For the beginner and those looking for a flat scenic ride, the Blair Valley area is for you. If you are looking for a physically demanding ride, try the Oriflamme Canyon area. It will give you a steep climb above the desert floor. Grapevine Canyon is popular for those looking for a downhill mountain bike experience.
If you are looking for a fairly level ride the Blair Valley area is for you. It offers a firm road for the most part, with the opportunity to park at some of the trailheads for a short hike if you want. Examples of some of the trailheads you can ride to are the Morteros Trail, and the Pictograph trail. On the Morteros trail you can view native American grinding holes called bedrock mortars (morteros)by archeologists. On the Pictograph trail you will find great examples of rock art or Pictographs which ore are painted or drawn on rock walls.
To get to the Morteros Trail take the Blair Valley turnoff from S-2 then follow dirt road 3.5 miles to the trailhead.
To get to the Pictographs from Palm Springs, take Highway 111 to Coachella, then take Highway 86 south to the Salton Sea. Turn right on Highway 78 about 15 miles past Salton City. Turn Left at S-2, the Great Overland Stagecoach Route of 1849. After approximately 5 mi. turn left on dirt road into Little Blair Valley (just after Anza Borrego SP sign on right), at junction bear right continue down crossing the valley. Turn left at next major intersection, and look for small signage on post. This road will dead end into the parking area. Hike 1.5 mi. to the ancient Indian pictographs (located on a large rock on the right side of the trail).
This is a sandy road with a moderately gentle grade that lets you ride through the split in the mountain and enjoy the view from inside a mountain. To get there park at the mouth of Fish Creek wash along the Split Mountain Road. Get on your bikes and ride about 4 miles to the Wind Caves trailhead. If you can leave your bikes and walk you will be treated to spectacular geologic formations at the Wind Caves.
To get to Split Mountain Road take Highway 78 west from Highway 111 to Ocotillo Wells. Take Split Mountain road for access to the east central area of Anza Borrego; from the small village of Ocotillo Wells it crosses flat, partially irrigated desert and ends at a gypsum mine. Fish Creek Wash crosses the road just before the mine about 2 miles from the end of the narrows.
If you start down the Jasper Trail near Ranchita on the west boundary of the park you will have a long downhill ride ( about 13 miles one way ). You should stay on Grapevine Canyon road to avoid hills and rough riding. Be sure and watch for 4-WD vehicles while on this road. For a good break stop at Yaqui Wells. Here you will find shade and a great place to watch birds and other desert animals. You will need a vehicle shuttle on this one unless you are superman or Lance Armstrong and can ride back up the trail to your car.
The Carrizo Badlands are located in the arid Borrego Badlands due east of the Visitors Center between County Road S-22 and Route 78. This is one of my favorite areas of the Anza-Borrego park. It offers a wide variety of unique looking geologic formations composed of conglomerates, sandstones, claystones and mudstones. It chronicles a variety of landscapes, fossil life forms and climates that no longer exist at Anza-Borrego. There are sunken mesas and corrugated hills of dry mud that have been altered by wind, rain and generations of flash flooding. There are thousands of acres of unique sedimentary rock formations, side canyons and dry washes for a lifetime of exploring.
Cycling Safety In Anza-Borrego State Park
Cycling in the desert requires that you always carry lots of water. One gallon or more should be the minimum you should carry per person (for information on your water needs click here). Temperatures in the area can reach 125 degrees during the hot summer months.
Make sure and use sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.
Make sure you have maps with you. You can get topographic maps of the entire park at the Visitors Center and at many outdoor stores. You can also find them online if you wish. It is also a good idea to have A GPS with you to help you find your way.
Be sure to bring along tools, a pump, and spare tubes. There are lots of thorny plants in the desert, so you also might want to use a tire sealant in your tubes.
You should also tell someone where you are going, and don’t ride alone. A charged up cell phone is also a good idea to have with you.
Cycling Rules In Anza-Borrego State Park
Complete rules can be found at the Visitors Center, but be aware of the following:
- Never ride off established roads or trails. The park is a fragile area, please respect nature and stay on the road.
- Helmets are required for riders 18 years old and younger, and of course they are also strongly recommended for all cyclists.
- Obey all traffic laws. Keep to the right on paved roads, obey all signs, and don’t obstruct traffic.
The way we ride today shapes mountain bike trail access tomorrow. Do your part to preserve and enhance our sport’s access and image by observing the following rules of the trail, formulated by IMBA, the International Mountain Bicycling Association. These rules are recognized around the world as the standard code of conduct for mountain bikers. IMBA’s mission is to promote mountain bicycling that is environmentally sound and socially responsible.
Ride On Open Trails Only.
Respect trail and road closures (ask if uncertain); avoid trespassing on private land; obtain permits or other authorization as may be required. Federal and state Wilderness areas are closed to cycling. The way you ride will influence trail management decisions and policies.
Leave No Trace.
Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Recognize different types of soils and trail construction; practice low-impact cycling. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage. When the trailbed is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
Control Your Bicycle!
Inattention for even a second can cause problems. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations.
Always Yield Trail.
Let your fellow trail users know you’re coming. A friendly greeting or bell is considerate and works well; don’t startle others. Show your respect when passing by slowing to a walking pace or even stopping. Anticipate other trail users around corners or in blind spots. Yielding means slow down, establish communication, be prepared to stop if necessary and pass safely.
Never Scare Animals.
All animals are startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise. This can be dangerous for you, others, and the animals. Give animals extra room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife is a serious offense. Leave gates as you found them, or as marked.
Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in which you are riding — and prepare accordingly. Be self-sufficient at all times, keep your equipment in good repair, and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. A well-executed trip is a satisfaction to you and not a burden to others. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.