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Hike Culp Valley Loop in Anza-Borrego

Hike Culp Valley Loop in Anza-Borrego

We love camping in Anza-Borrego State Park, and one of the best camping spots we've found is at Culp Valley. This great, free, spacious, primitive campground also has a loop trail on it's list of amenities. The Culp Valley Loop trail is a great option if you are camping in the area, or even if you're just passing by and want to stretch your legs a bit. It's a fairly short hike, under 3 miles if you cover the entire thing. 

Although the trail is a loop, it can be easily accessed from a couple of places. If you're staying at a campsite, there is an easy access point on the back side of the camping area. Alternatively, there is a trailhead on the western side, just after entering the Culp Valley area off of Montezuma Highway (S22). We've accessed from both sides, and enjoyed the hike each time. 

We have done a poor job of tracking our paths on this hike, so we don't have very clear instructions... but it's a clearly marked trail, with good signs and foot paths. This would be a hard trail not to follow. 

Coming from the campground entrance, there is small wooden footpath and rocks laid out alongside the trail to keep your feet where they belong. Coming from the parking area on the other side, the trail splits to the left to visit Pena Spring, or you can continue right (straight) on the California Riding Trail, and you'll end up where you belong. 

Either access point will take you towards some amazing views. There are a couple of places where you can tell the trail wants you to stop and look around, and if you do, you'll be amazed at how far you can see on a clear day. You'll be met with views of Borrego Valley, the Santa Rosa Mountains, and even an overlook of the Hellhole Canyon area. The views are amazing from this high place in the park, and worth this very short and not strenuous hike. 

Be prepared to see cacti at nearly every step, and towards the back of the loop, an abundance of yucca plants reaching for the sky. Even though this hike is in a desert park, it's worth noting that the elevation of 3,375 feet is somewhat higher than most desert hikes. This makes this trail a bit more comfortable than most in the valley as the summer temperatures start to heat up. Still, pack a bag with plenty of water and sunscreen, but enjoy the breezy spots and the higher elevation temperatures. 

There is one section of the trail that is accessible - wooden foot paths, smooth dirt, and a paved portion make one of the outlooks easily accessible. The rest of the path is mostly smooth, depending on recent weather. After a rain, the trail can have deep ruts from wash out. Otherwise, this is a very easy hike, with an accessible option, and worth a short bit of time to get some amazing views. 

  • Length: 2.2 miles, loop
  • Gain: 400 feet
  • Duration: 1-2 hours, depending on photo taking and lunch on a big rock!

Have you hiked this area? Camped here? Let us know what you love in Anza-Borrego or if you have any tips about the area! This is a spot we like to go back and visit somewhat frequently for weekend getaways.

Cameras Used: Nikon D750, Canon AE-1
Film: Kodak Ektar, Ilford FP4, Lomography Redscale

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