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A trail up a desert canyon to an oasis with towering California fan palms.

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Point to Point

1,280' 390 m


774' 236 m


506' 154 m


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Features River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildflowers


The Palm Canyon Trail starts at a crossroads, about .25 miles up the road after entering Palm Canyon Campground. This is also very close to the north end of the Visitor Center Interpretive Trail.

From its trailhead, the first half mile of Palm Canyon Trail crosses the shrub covered Palm Canyon Campground. The trail then crosses a popular parking area used by hikers of the Palm Canyon Loop.

After crossing the parking area, follow Palm Canyon Trail northwest as it heads towards the mountains of Palm Canyon. Here, the trail crosses a flat, open area. It is a rock strewn, sandy trail with low vegetation. In the spring, the vegetation is green with an abundance of flowers - very pretty. Brittlebush (yellow flowers) is everywhere. There are also several other yellow flowered bushes, desert dandelions, and other low, flowering shrubs.

About a mile from its trailhead, Palm Canyon Trail bends to the right and enters the canyon. A steep, brush covered hillside, the canyon "wall", rises to the right of the trail. Tall stick-like ocotillos join the mix of vegetation. In the spring, the ocotillo stems become dark green, with orange tipped ends - the ocotillo blooms. About 1.5 miles from the trailhead, the trail turns left and crosses the stream that runs down the canyon. If one looks up the stream (to the right), in the distance, one can see the California fan palms of the oasis, about a half mile away.

After crossing the stream, the trail turns right and follows the stream as it heads towards the oasis. The canyon walls rise steeply on both sides of the trail, from here to the oasis. Just after crossing the stream and turning right, the trail enters a short stretch of relatively dense vegetation, made possible in the desert, by the stream waters. The trail soon emerges from the vegetation, and becomes much rockier, with areas of large boulders. In places it is hard to tell where the trail goes. Look for occasional arrows that mark the trail.

For .25 miles after crossing the stream, the stream is to the right of the trail. In other words, look for the trail on this side of the stream. The trail then crosses the stream again, and follows the stream, with the stream now to the left of the trail. After about .15 miles on this other side of the stream, just before the oasis, the trail crosses back over the stream, and enters the shaded oasis. At the oasis, there is a wonderful, cool shaded area in among the towering California fan palms.

Flora & Fauna

Brittlebush (yellow flowers), Parish's poppies (yellow), desert dandelions (light yellow), ocotillos, creosote (yellow flowers), common phacelia (little blue flowers), and other flowering plants. Cholla cacti (green blooms). Towering California fan palms at the oasis. These are the only palms native to California and are relatively rare in the wild.


Shared By:

Joan Pendleton

Trail Ratings

  3.8 from 4 votes


  3.8 from 4 votes
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in California


17 Views Last Month
2,240 Since Apr 3, 2017



California fan palms grow in the Palm Canyon Trail's desert oasis in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Apr 3, 2017 near Borrego…, CA
Early morning is a great time to experience the Palm Canyon Trail.
Apr 14, 2017 near Borrego…, CA
In the cool shade of the Palm Canyon oasis palms, you'll receive a welcome relief from the desert heat.
Apr 7, 2017 near Borrego…, CA
Parish's poppies grow along the Palm Canyon Trail in early April.
Apr 14, 2017 near Borrego…, CA
Look for this shaded pool in the stream that runs down Palm Canyon. With all this greenery, it's hard to believe this is a desert.
Apr 7, 2017 near Borrego…, CA
Expect pools with small, bush-like California fan palms as one approaches the Palm Canyon oasis on the Palm Canyon Trail.
Apr 14, 2017 near Borrego…, CA



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 43 days ago
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Apr 2, 2017
Joan Pendleton