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black Split Mountain Loop

  4.0 ( 1 ) Favorite


13.8 mile 22.2 kilometer loop


Ascent: 1,369' 417 m
Descent: -1,368' -417 m
High: 1,356' 413 m
Low: 224' 68 m


Avg Grade: 4% (2°)
Max Grade: 48% (26°)


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Trail shared by Matthew Kidd

A desert wonder almost up to Southern Utah standards.

Matthew Kidd

Features -none-

This is an off-trail route with few to no signed or defined trails.


Split Mountain is unique geographical region of Anza-Borrego State Park. Explore the split itself including a dramatic anticline, ascend a ridge with great views of Lyceum Wash, drop through sandstone formations, and complete the loop.

Need to Know

This route is best from November to perhaps March when it is reasonably cool.


This is a "strike across the desert" style hike. There are no official trails or signage but many sections have an obvious course of action. You should be able to get any car to the trail start in the route with a bit of care, though you can park just off Split Mountain Rd. (where this route is mapped from) if you have any doubts.

Proceed SSW in the wide Fish Creek Wash which narrows as you approach the split in the mountains. The split itself is very interesting. At 1.8 miles you'll see a prominent anticline on your right which is accompanied by a sign describing the geology. Exit the split and take the North Fish Creek Wash about 4.5 miles along the hike.

At 5.1 miles proceed up Lycium Wash for about a mile and at 6.2 miles leave Lycium Wash and proceed up a narrow wash to gain a spot elevation of ~1100 ft at 7.0 miles and a good lunch spot. This is not an official trail but as mapped is referred to as the Lycium Ridge Route. Traverse the ridge with great view of Lycium Wash to your left. Eventually you must leave the ridge which is a slight scramble. This works best at a saddle in the ridge at 9.7 miles.

This takes you down to the Split Mountain Flats Wash Route, another unnamed, off-trail route. Follow the narrow wash back through Split Mountain. Proceed another 2.5 miles though a series of wide washes. This stretch takes longer than it looks but eventually Split Mountain Rd. will come into view and it is difficult to miss the wide wash where your card is parked.


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Mar 31, 2019
Jenny King Dugan
Highly recommend detailed topo map as the washes are not marked and you are overland from Lycium Wash to No Return Canyon, no visible trail.

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