California’s largest state park is a favorite getaway for local hikers. For bird’s-eye views of sprawling desert and neighboring ranges, tackle the 4.1-mile (one-way) route that gains 1,500 feet of elevation and tops out on Whale Peak’s rocky, 5,349-foot summit. On cloud-free days, views extend to the Salton Sea and across the Laguna Mountains.
Note: This route travels off-trail. Route-finding skills and map and compass skills are required.
Info: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- Distance: 13.2
Location: 33.019603, -116.359726
From the parking area, hike east.
Location: 33.017287, -116.348063
Turn left and hike north to Smuggler Canyon.
Location: 33.020242, -116.347715
Turn left in the wash and head north-northwest.
Location: 33.023121, -116.349978
Keep right, heading north.
Location: 33.02532, -116.34971
Bear right, heading northeast.
Location: 33.028852, -116.344323
Pick the best route up the canyon.
Location: 33.035561, -116.328864
Turn right and leave the wash.
Location: 33.03557, -116.327707
The route winds southeast up the slopes of Whale Peak.
Location: 33.029426, -116.319187
Crest the ridge just west of the summit. Climb east to reach the peak.
Location: 33.029318, -116.316204
Whale Peak (5,349 ft.): On cloud-free days, views extend to the Salton Sea and across the Laguna Mountains. Retrace your route to the parking area.