4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Hike through the dry confines of Anza-Borrego's Harper Canyon and emerge in spacious Harper Flat.

A long and leisurely ramble up the sinuous course of Harper Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park leads hikers to Harper Flat, a four-square-mile valley hidden from casual view by rock-strewn ridges and peaks. The reward for the trek, which takes about three hours for each direction, is the sense of splendid isolation you get all along the way, and at the destination itself.

Barrel cactus

You'll need an Anza-Borrego parking pass before starting this or any other off-road trek within the state park. Call 760-767-4205 or 760-767-5311 for more information. To get to where you can start hiking, drive east on Highway 78 to a dirt road intersecting at mile 87.2. Go 1.6 miles south to a T-intersection with the old Kane Springs Road. Turn right, drive 0.2 mile west, then veer left on a dirt road trending southwest. Park there, or drive farther on if your vehicle allows.

The road skirts an area known as the Cactus Garden, where barrel cacti, especially, grow thick and as tall as seven feet. When the roadbed ends, the walls of Harper Canyon narrow, then widen again as tributary canyons split off on both sides. A better name for the canyon would perhaps be "Ironwood Canyon." You'll pass hundreds of these slow-growing, dense-limbed trees in the next three miles. These will offer at least semi-shade if the day is warm and sunny.

After some intermittent, easy scrambles over rock dikes or ledges, you'll begin to see smoke trees and desert-willows, with foliage even less substantial than that of the ironwoods. Then, at 4.5 miles from Kane Springs Road, you'll come upon the broad expanse of Harper Flat. Curiously, Harper Canyon drains most but not all of Harper Flat. The flat more closely resembles an elevated plateau than a river valley.

Soak in the silence -- or if the spirit moves you, scramble up the ridge to the north about 400 vertical feet to a small promontory at 2628 feet elevation. There you get a superb view of the smooth expanse of Harper Flat and various landmarks to the north, including the Santa Rosa Mountains and the Salton Sea.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The fate of Tijuana's 300,000 stray dogs

Injections instead of electocuting
Next Article

If Elliott Smith came back from the dead

When you’re a little kid, you think it would be cool to live in a big mansion like Scrooge McDuck

A long and leisurely ramble up the sinuous course of Harper Canyon in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park leads hikers to Harper Flat, a four-square-mile valley hidden from casual view by rock-strewn ridges and peaks. The reward for the trek, which takes about three hours for each direction, is the sense of splendid isolation you get all along the way, and at the destination itself.

Barrel cactus

You'll need an Anza-Borrego parking pass before starting this or any other off-road trek within the state park. Call 760-767-4205 or 760-767-5311 for more information. To get to where you can start hiking, drive east on Highway 78 to a dirt road intersecting at mile 87.2. Go 1.6 miles south to a T-intersection with the old Kane Springs Road. Turn right, drive 0.2 mile west, then veer left on a dirt road trending southwest. Park there, or drive farther on if your vehicle allows.

The road skirts an area known as the Cactus Garden, where barrel cacti, especially, grow thick and as tall as seven feet. When the roadbed ends, the walls of Harper Canyon narrow, then widen again as tributary canyons split off on both sides. A better name for the canyon would perhaps be "Ironwood Canyon." You'll pass hundreds of these slow-growing, dense-limbed trees in the next three miles. These will offer at least semi-shade if the day is warm and sunny.

After some intermittent, easy scrambles over rock dikes or ledges, you'll begin to see smoke trees and desert-willows, with foliage even less substantial than that of the ironwoods. Then, at 4.5 miles from Kane Springs Road, you'll come upon the broad expanse of Harper Flat. Curiously, Harper Canyon drains most but not all of Harper Flat. The flat more closely resembles an elevated plateau than a river valley.

Soak in the silence -- or if the spirit moves you, scramble up the ridge to the north about 400 vertical feet to a small promontory at 2628 feet elevation. There you get a superb view of the smooth expanse of Harper Flat and various landmarks to the north, including the Santa Rosa Mountains and the Salton Sea.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Why are these Zoom moms wined up?

If only we knew the cooks behind the ghost kitchens
Next Article

From ribeye to root beer, Grove Grinder stands out

In its fifth decade, the Lemon Grove sandwich shop stays true to its ways
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close