Alpine climbing NCCS rating
Grade III
Elevation Gain
3,160.00 ft (963.17 m)
8.50 mi (13.68 km)
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The southeast ridge of Indianhead Peak in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a beast of a climb – even for more experienced hikers and mountaineers. It sets itself apart from the west ridge, the standard route, by offering over 3,000 feet of Class 3 and Class 4 rock scrambling, complete with a minor 5.2 push near the summit block. The route is made all the more interesting by the complete lack of a trail once you march out of Borrego Palm Canyon.

Cactus-dodging is a near constant on this trail, which makes for slow going but also affords you ample opportunities to marvel at the super bloom if you attempt this ridge in March or April following a wet winter. Hedgehog cactus, brittlebush, barrel cactus, buckthorn cholla, and ocotillo all fire up the area with powerful splashes of color. The hills really come alive with a myriad of bright blooms that can be seen for the entirety of the climb.

Due to the sharp steepening of the rocks at the tail end of the ascent, helmets, an ATC, and a length of climbing rope are recommended toward the top, as the rock slabs do offer a fair bit of nerve-shaking exposure just before the peak.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

General Day Use Fee


Stunning vistas. Ample rock scrambling. Wildflowers. Easy parking.


No trail. Difficult route finding. Steep exposure. Hot.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

800.00 ft (243.84 m)


Backcountry camping
Rock climbing
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Big Game Watching


Nearby Lodging + Camping


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