San Diego Trails: Culp Valley

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape.

Vista of the Anza Borrego desert landscape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you head on over to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and take the entry off Highway S-22, a little to the east of Ranchita (definitely one of the most dramatic ways to enter this amazing place), okay, wind down, down, down until you reach the desert . . . are you still with me? . . . . well, one of the first places you can stop is Culp Valley.

Culp Valley is truly sensational, at around 3,400 feet in elevation you can clearly see the transition from chaparrel to desert, with tell-tale changes in vegetation and geologically as you gradually descend onto the floor of the desert.

Culp Valley really is an amazing place, with an amazing history. It’s one of seven different areas of Anza-Borrego State Park which has been classified as a Cultural Preserve, (ancient people lived there many, many years ago – which is why I said ancient), as well as Little Blair Valley, Coyote Canyon, Vallecito, Angelina Spring, Southern Overland Trail and Piedras Grandes.

The reserve boundary of the Culp Valley Cultural Preserve is actually south of Hwy S-22 in an area known as “Kish Kawish” – brilliant name don’t you think ? Anyway, I digress . . . .

There’s a fantastic hiking trail to explore which is on the north side of Hwy S-22, close to where the primitive camping sites are, plus Pena Spring, a natural water source, anyway, this is a relatively easy hike on your way to the desert, it’s only about a mile, or a 2 mile round trip. To reach the trail head for this hiking trail head east onto S-2 from Highway 79, then east onto Hwy S-22 past Ranchita (like I said already!) Continue on S-22 to mile marker 9.2 then turn north, (left) where there’s a dirt road which is actually marked on maps as Culp Valley. The road forks off to the left to Pena Spring, and to the right to the campsites. Take the left turn to Pena Spring and park up (make sure that you park off the road), and you’ll find the trail at the end of the dirt road, at the north edge of the parking area.

This is a really easy hiking trail, although, if you wanted to, you could wander for miles around Culp Valley – maybe once you set eyes on this fantastic place you’ll want to do just that.

It’s also a great place to practice a little rock climbing.

See, everybody is at it . . . .

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