We choose the South Coyote Canyon Trail which follows a portion of the historic Juan Bautista de Anza overland trail that passed through Borrego Springs in 1774 and 1775. The drive is about 13 miles from the south end near Di Giorgio Rd. to the north closure at Middle Willow. It winds through sandy washes to the Desert Gardens area where there are a couple of picnic tables set among ocotillo, cholla, and prickly pear. We stopped to look around and chat with a nice fella who had loads of information. In springs past, the ocotillo here have been in wild bloom.
|Ocotillo blooming in past springs...|
|Meeting others and exchanging stories..No blossoms yet!|
We passed campsites and lots of hiking and horse trails leading off to remote areas of the desert and mountains, and historic markers commemorating De Anza's amazing journey.
This campsite, now occupied by day-trippers, was used by the De Anza party on their 2nd journey in 1775, because of its proximity to water. Though I doubt the water and other amenities were supplied in quite this fashion.
|Marker placed near campsite|
|Santa Catarina Springs campsite on March 14, 1774, on their 1st trip & feast day of St. Catherine|
There are 3 crossings of Coyote Creek. The 1st crossing is approx. 5 miles from the entrance at Di Giorgio Rd., and is usually dry. The other 2 have year-round water that can be up to 24 in. deep. Conventional vehicles can usually make it as far as the 2nd crossing. We were amazed to find the first signs of greenery...and flowers!
The difficult stretch of the trail occurs just after the 3rd crossing with a steep ascent of a half mile or so on large, loose rocks and embedded boulders. This section is rated 6 out of 10 for difficulty. We were leery and pulled over to the side to watch others navigate. Our jeep is pretty much stock, and I trust Howard's judgement as to its capabilities. He said let's do it, and that was good enough for me! These photos were taken on the drive back when I decided to get out of the car, and ended up getting left behind...well not quite!
|Hey, wait for me!|
Arriving at the saddle, we are looking north into Collins Valley, named for an early homesteader at the turn of the 20th century. We pulled over for photos and met this young family. The dad points us in the right direction, way down there!
|See the tiny ribbon of track?|