Desert View Nature Trail

The Desert View Nature Trail is a short interpretive trail that begins and ends at the Burnt Rancheria Campground in Mount Laguna. The trail overlaps a small segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, and as it name implies, provides some nice views of the Anza-Borrego Desert. In addition to the views, a printed trail guide is available that provides educational descriptions about numbered exhibits that can be found along the trail.

Since this was a rather short trail, we made a day of hitting several of the shorter interpretive trails in the area. After hiking the Wooded Hill Nature Trail and the Kwaaymii Trail, we headed over to the Burnt Rancheria Campground to finish up with the Desert View Nature Trail. From the Day Use parking lot, we set off east along a paved walkway through a canopy of Black Oaks.2016desertview-dsc_0823-edit

We quickly came upon the campground amphitheater.2016desertview-dsc_0826-edit

We followed the path as it wrapped around to the right. As we approached some bathrooms, we spotted a wooden sign that read “Desert View Trail” pointing us to the left, and we dutifully followed.2016desertview-dsc_0827-edit

We made our way along the trail through the campground, admiring the golden orange leaves of the transitioning Black Oak trees.2016desertview-dsc_0832-edit-2

We crossed a couple of roads and finally came to the outer edge of the campground, where we found a “Y” junction and a “Desert View Trail” sign in the middle of the two paths. Having absolutely no indication of whether we should turn right or left, we decided to head down the path on the right and see what happened. We later came to find that both paths eventually connect, so pick whichever route you like.2016desertview-dsc_0836-edit

We followed the right fork for a short ways before it bent to the left, taking us towards the PCT. We came upon a pair of benches, strategically placed to enjoy the beautiful scenery.2016desertview-dsc_0841-edit

Around .45 miles our trail converged with the PCT, and we started up a small hill.2016desertview-dsc_0844-edit

It was perfect hiking weather, sunny, but not too hot, and a gentle breeze kept us comfortable.2016desertview-dsc_0848-edit

To the right, we had a fantastic view of La Posta Creek Valley.2016desertview-dsc_0853-pano-edit

The surrounding foliage was a beautiful mix of chaparral, oaks, and pine trees.2016desertview-dsc_0864-edit

As we continued away from the sloping canyonside, the density of the trees increased.2016desertview-dsc_0873-edit

At 1.1 miles we came upon a working drinking fountain, or “water drinker” as the accompanying plaque called it. Nearby, an unmarked path on the left appeared to lead back towards the campground. We continued straight.2016desertview-dsc_0875-edit

As we started climbing uphill again, we spotted a small gopher snake hanging out on the trail ahead of us. He posed nicely for some photographs, and we then gently encouraged him off the trail so he’d have the safety of better camouflage in the surrounding grass.2016desertview-dsc_0177-edit

As we continued up the hill, we began to get some of the promised desert views.2016desertview-dsc_0894-pano-edit

We were also able to spot the white orb of the Laguna Observatory in the north.2016desertview-dsc_0900-pano

Around 1.4 miles, we came upon a “Y” junction where the Desert View Trail split off from the PCT. We turned left to start making our way back towards the campground.2016desertview-dsc_0903-edit

We found a lovely log bench under a shady oak tree. This would be a great out of the way spot to relax for a little while.2016desertview-dsc_0908-edit

The trail wound through more oak and pine forest.2016desertview-dsc_0912-edit

Before long we met a paved road in the campground, and the end of the trail.2016desertview-dsc_0202

The trail ended a fair distance from our starting point, with no real indication of how to get back to the campground entrance. We basically just kept going right until we found ourselves back at the day use parking area. Based on the map it looks like it would be quicker to turn left at the end of the trail and from there follow the road the entrance. It’s a beautiful campground though, so whichever way you go it will be an enjoyable walk.

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From I-8 east take the Sunrise Highway exit and turn left onto Sunrise Highway (S1). Follow Sunrise Highway for approximately 9.5 miles to the Burnt Rancheria Campground on your right. Turn left at the fee station and follow the road a short ways to the day use parking area on your right. Park in one of the marked “Adventure Pass” parking spots. map

Total Distance: 1.7 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 222 feet
Dog Friendly?: Leashed dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: Bikes not allowed
Facilities: Water and restrooms at campground
Fees/Permits: Adventure Pass required

For more information, visit:
Laguna Mountain Recreation Area Map
View route or download GPX from CalTopo

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