Yaqui Well Trail (Anza Borrego State Park)

A variety of cacti can be found along the Yaqui Well nature trailThe Yaqui Well Nature Trail is an easy self-guided interpretive trail that leads to a natural spring. The spring supports abundant plant and animal life in the otherwise harsh and arid desert. In the late 1800’s, a well was built at the site of the spring to improve access to water for mule-driven freight wagon teams transporting goods through the area. Later, cattle ranchers took advantage of the water source for their herds. Today, it is frequented by squirrels, rabbits, coyotes, bobcats, birds, and the occasional hiker.

The trailhead is located across the road from the Tamarisk Grove Campground, about 500 feet southwest from the Cactus Loop trail. From the campground, we headed left down the road and found the trailhead just on the far side of the Ranger’s property. Just like on the Cactus Loop trail, we found a box of pamphlets at the trailhead, and numbered exhibits along the trail were described in the pamphlet. Trailhead for the Yaqui Well trail

The trail headed west, roughly paralleling the course of the road. Ever-present Creosote bushes dotted the hillside to our right, accompanied by fuzzy cholla cacti and the tall, dry tendrils of ocotillo.20141110Yaqui-3978

We started up a somewhat rocky ascent, headed toward a row of power lines.Climbing the rocky hill

Around .25 miles the trail crossed a narrow wash. We picked up the trail again just a bit uphill from where we entered the wash and continued on.The trail crosses a dry wash

The trail continued its rocky ascent. We took our time on the wobbly stones, admiring the variety of cacti lining the trail and the colorful rocks all around us.Colorful rocks add to the beauty of the Yaqui Well trail

Before long, we crested the hill. In the distance we could see a lush green patch which marked the presence of water at our destination.Cresting the hill and climbing down the other side

By .5 mile, we had descended into a sandy wash. The trail began to veer away from the power lines and followed the contour of the hillside to our right. Rocks outlined the path for much of this section of trail.Sections of the trail are outlined in rocks to make it easy to stay on track

We passed the marker for exhibit 12, which according to the trail pamphlet, was a former Kumeyaay seasonal camp where artifacts such as pottery shards and obsidian flakes can be found. After an exhaustive two minute search, however, we hadn’t found anything notable, and continued on our way.Site of a seasonal Kumeyaay camp

The trail began to turn away from the hillside, headed for the dense green swath that surrounded Yaqui Well.The dense green brush denotes the location of the Yaqui Well spring

We briefly found ourselves following the course of a deep rut in the ground before we reached the deep, dense green growth.Soft sand and abundant growth

We followed a narrow path through a dense cluster of Honey mesquite. Buried deep in the greenery we noted a trail branch on the left, which appeared to lead off towards the Yaqui Well primitive campground area. We continued straight until we came upon a thick carpet of green grass and trail exhibit 14, which marked the location of Yaqui Well.The seep itself is closed off, but green grass announces the presence of water

While the immediate area was closed off, we could tell that there was little to no water on the surface. We continued along the trail to the right to do a little more exploring. We saw some Phainopepla – crested black birds with white patches on their wings – in the bushes and trees around us. Yaqui Well is considered one of the premier birding spots in San Diego County, with over 80 different species of birds having been spotted here.20141111Yaqui-4289

We wandered around the area for a little while, then retraced our path back to the road.

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From Julian, take 78 east approximately 18 miles to Yaqui Pass Road (S3). Turn left onto Yaqui Pass road and proceed approximately .4 mile to Tamarisk Grove Campground on the right. Park on the side of the road in front of the Campground.

From Borrego Springs, take S3 (Borrego Springs Road and Yaqui Pass Road) south for approximately 12 miles to Tamarisk Grove Campground on the left. Park on the side of the road in front of the Campground.

map (Note: this map points you to the trail head – park across the street in front of the campground.)

Total Distance: 1.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Total Ascent: 243 feet
Dog Friendly?: No dogs allowed
Bike Friendly?: No bikes allowed
Facilities: Port-a-potties at Tamarisk Grove Campground. There’s no potable water on tap, but you can buy water for $2/gallon from the campground kiosk when they’re open.
Fees/Permits: None

For more information, visit:
California State parks: Anza-Borrego State Park
San Diego History Center – Yaqui Well

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