The Hike: Hellhole Canyon Trail to Maidenhair Falls
Vague Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Better Location: There is a parking lot next to the trailhead on HWY S-22 near mile marker 16.5 in Borrego Springs, California.
Distance: 6 Miles Total – Out & Back
Elevation Gain/Loss: 900′
The hike starts on the desert floor passing beautiful blooming ocotillos, pink beavertail cactus, pink barrel cactus and more. The flowers are typically in bloom around March, depending on the winter rainfall.
I have seen a variety of lizards, jackrabbits, colorful birds with lovely singing voices, and even a “baby” rattlesnake on this trail. (The photo is a tad blurry, but I wasn’t getting too close.) I am still waiting to encounter bighorn sheep at Anza-Borrego. Hopefully, I will never run into a mountain lion; although they have been reported on this trail.
The trail eventually leads to an oasis filled with palm trees and large boulders. Further up the trail you will find a waterfall (or two), which is a great place to cool off from the high desert temperatures. Maidenhair Falls were not the easiest to find. There appeared to be very little, or even no trail, leading past the palm oasis. There was boulder scrambling and small stream crossings involved in order to reach the falls.
The twenty-foot falls are tucked away and the surrounding rock is lined with maidenhair ferns and moss. The water was cold and refreshing as it fell into a shallow pool. (The wet rocks are slippery!) The palms and waterfall are inviting and the experience feels like you are a world away from hiking in a (very hot) desert.
The photos shown are from hikes taken on March 26, 2010 and April 28, 2012.