William Kenyon Overlook

William Kenyon Overlook Hike at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Some of the best vistas of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park are easily accessible via a short and sweet 1.25-mile (round-trip) hike just off the CA-78. Enter your next favorite desert viewpoint: the William Kenyon Overlook.

Park at the primitive campground’s dirt lot off Yaqui Pass Road just 2 miles north of the Tamarisk Grove Campground, where you can find some great hikes to add to your mileage (the Cactus Loop and Yaqui Well Trail are both worth a visit). Quick note: Timid drivers may want to get in the passenger seat—the Yaqui Pass Road sharply ascends here, but if you are coming from Borrego Springs, the road is more gradual. The hike, however, is easy on the legs (with just 125 feet of gain)!

Head southwest on the singletrack dirt trail from the campground and make a left onto the connecting loop trail. As you meander through classic desert flora, like cholla, barrel, and beavertail cactus, and around granite outcroppings, you’ll reach the overlook after about a half-mile and a short spur trail that detours from the loop. Here, sitting at 1,750 feet, you’ll find some interpretive signage and a monument to the trail’s namesake: Bill Kenyon was a former supervisor of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The vista here is absolutely incredible, and as with many famous desert overlooks, is best enjoyed early in the morning or late afternoon to get that phenomenal golden hour effect.

As the sign notes, you are overlooking the Mescal Bajada, which slopes down the grade and is named after the many mescal (agave) plants that dot it, flowing down from the impressive Pinyon Mountains. The most prominent peak on the left edge of your view is Sunset Mountain, naturally best viewed at (you guessed it) sunset! You’ll also read that after heavy rains, 35 arroyos feed into the San Felipe Wash all the way to the Salton Sea. Stick around and perch on a boulder to enjoy the incredible sweeping views of the expansive desert floor, but also scan the surrounding rocky outcroppings to see if you can spot an elusive peninsular desert bighorn sheep, which have also been known to frequent the area. Continue the loop along the path that parallels the road all the way back to your car. After such a high reward for a lower-effort hike, kenyon believe it?

To get to the William Kenyon Overlook Trail from Borrego Springs, head south on Borrego Springs Rd. for just over 5 miles and take a right onto Yaqui Pass Rd. After 4.6 miles up the grade, the primitive campground and trailhead will be on your left. No dogs!

Story and photos by Matt Pawlik, @mattitudehikes

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Taking the Stage: Tyler Ranch

    Hike the recently opened Tyler Ranch Staging Area in Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, with 18 miles of new trails. This 6.5-mile loop up Sunol Peak is a challenge and rewards with exceptional views of seasonal iridescent hills.

  2. Swing into Spring

    Swing into this 7.1-mile hike in the hills of Half Moon Bay! It’s got gorgeous views, fields of spring wildflowers, and a hidden rustic tree swing.

  3. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike.

  4. woman kneeling and signing peak book at Mount Olympia in Mount Diablo State Park

    Double Up on Diablo

    Set the tone for 2024 with this twofer summit hike at Mount Diablo State Park. Embark on a 7-mile out-and-back up Mount Olympia and Diablo’s lesser-known summit, North Peak.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Hiker overlooking Bear Gulch Reservoir at Pinnacles National Park near Monterey

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? Spring's a beautiful time of year here. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

  2. Caves in Mojave

    No one expects to see caves when they visit the desert, and that’s part of what makes Mitchell Caverns in the Mojave Desert such an interesting place. Go on a two-hour guided adventure tour through Mitchell Caverns in Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.

  3. Sponsored

    Port of Call

    Nestled by the sea on the majestic Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, Port Townsend is for travelers who treasure small town charm and natural beauty.

  4. Lava Lava

    Once a land of volcanic activity, Mojave National Preserve shares plenty about its past via a quick yet adventurous hike to the Lava Tube in the Cima Dome Volcanic Field.