Not Maidenhair Falls #1

Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To Hellhole Canyon Trail

Highlights of This Trail
Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time
Botanical Trip Reports
The Plant Guide
Comments On Specific Species

Not Maidenhair Falls #2


Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

This trail is probably the second most popular one in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, after the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, for several good reasons. The trail is close to the Visitor Center, with the parking area clearly visible from S22, the road that many people take on the way toward the Visitor Center. Botanically, the trail passes through many diverse environments, offering a sampler of much of the flora of the area. The trail ends at the most treasured destination in a desert - a shady palm grove, with year-round water and a pretty waterfall.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about where Maidenhair Falls is. It is not the location marked on the USGS Topographic Map, which doesn't have any falls at all! It is not the first falls that one comes to that has a few Maidenhair ferns growing at its base (see picture above of Not Maidenhair Falls #1). It is not yet another waterfall found a bit higher in the Canyon (see picture above of Not Maidenhair Falls #2). It is a waterfall at an elevation of ~2040 feet with a massive bank of maidenhair ferns (see also Rick Halsey's picture taken from a different angle in the wet season and my panorama in the dry season).

Hellhole Canyon itself burned almost completely in the August 2002 Pines Fire, down below the lowest tree (a sycamore) at the mouth. But in March 2005, three years of rainy seasons later, you'd be hard pressed to note this if it weren't for the burned trunks of the trees and a few dead burned shrubs, or if you weren't familiar with fire-follower species such as Malacothamnus. Even here in the desert, the shrubs and trees are busy resprouting, and the lush annual growth in 2005 hides much of the evidence of the burn.

The last fire prior to 2002 was 1975, when the entire drainage was burned (Schad 1986). Schad also comments in 1986 that recent floods have gouged out a small chasm (5-10 feet deep) in the sandy floor of the canyon.

See also the introduction, pictures and maps in Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

Highlights of This Trail

Number of Unique Taxa On This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 189 of our trails and floras in our database when this histogram was made; 51 of those trails and floras, including this one, are in Anza-Borrego State Park. A number of "1" means the taxon has only been found only on this list, among all the trails in our database.

Number of Trails
Containing A Taxon
Number Of Taxa
On This Trail
% of Taxa
On This Trail
Total Taxa173100%

We found 6 additional taxa not in the above table, since they have not been fully identified yet. The unidentified ones are marked with ?, sp or ssp in the id? column in the guide, and have no entries in the #all column.

Fieldwork Dates and Summary of List Changes With Time

The following table gives the dates the trail was walked and taxa recorded. After each visit, the table gives the total number of taxa on the list and the breakdown of the taxa without positive identification. See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides to understand the symbols below.

Visit DateVisit ## taxa# "?"# "sp"# "~"# "ssp"

The guide was not separately updated for the 1/7/10 fieldwork, so there are no entries in most of the columns.

We thank Michael Charters and Richard Sapiro for help with the 10/29/05 fieldwork, Aaron Schusteff for help with the 1/7/10 fieldwork, and Preston Taylor for help with the 1/15/10 fieldwork.

Botanical Trip Reports

21 October 2005
25 October 2005
29 October 2005

The Plant Guide

This is a working list, about which we make no guarantees at all until we officially release it. Use at your own risk!

For a plant list of the species found here in traditional family order, see Flora of Culp Valley / Hellhole Canyon.

The mileages up to Maidenhair Falls have been adjusted to a detailed GPS recording of the trail, and hence should be accurate to 0.01 miles if you follow the same route that we did.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (8 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (2 double-sided pages). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

miles#idCommon NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   Begin guide at use trail from middle of west end of parking lot, not at the sign at the entrance to the lot; elevation ~880 feet (270 m)
0.00b1 *Mediterranean schismusSchismus barbatus99 / 952
0.00b2 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa99 / 955
0.00c3 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 982
0.00l4 California suncupCamissonia californica99 / 962
0.00l5 indigo bushPsorothamnus schottii30 / 948
0.00l6 hairy-podded pepper-grassLepidium lasiocarpum var. lasiocarpum99 / 932
0.00r7~bearded cryptanthaCryptantha barbigera99 / 922
0.00r8 ocotilloFouquieria splendens ssp. splendens20 / 951
0.00l9 Fremont pincushionChaenactis fremontii99 / 913
0.00b10 cheesebushHymenoclea salsola var. salsola20 / 945
0.00l11 desert dandelionMalacothrix glabrata99 / 918
0.00l12 desert starMonoptilon bellioides99 / 910
0.00l13 California filagoFilago californica99 / 932
0.00r  Check for Sonoran spurge, Chamaesyce micromera
0.01b14 desert trumpetEriogonum inflatum10 / 939
0.01r15 dwarf filagoFilago depressa20 / 52
0.01r16spdifferent CryptanthaCryptantha sp. /
0.01b17 wire-lettuceStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora20 / 951
0.01l18 purple matNama demissum var. demissum2 / 27
0.01l19 gander's chollaOpuntia ganderi50 / 939
0.01l  (brittlebush, Encelia farinosa)
0.01l20spnemacladusNemacladus sp.1 / 1
0.01b21 desert calicoLoeseliastrum matthewsii2 / 14
0.01r22 common phaceliaPhacelia distans99 / 937
0.01r23 downy daleaDalea mollissima1 / 15
0.01r24 white rhatanyKrameria grayi5 / 240
0.01r25 burroweedAmbrosia dumosa20 / 952
0.02r26 California fagoniaFagonia laevis3 / 325
0.02r27spcomb burPectocarya sp.1 / 1
0.02r28 brittle spineflowerChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornu10 / 932
0.03l29 New Mexico ditaxisDitaxis neomexicana50 / 93
0.03l30 creosote bushLarrea tridentata20 / 955
0.03l  (desert agave, Agave deserti)
0.03r31 small-flowered poppyEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflora50 / 916
0.04r  Jct. with the trail from the sign.
0.04l  (beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris)
0.04l  Jct. faint use trail
0.05r32 short-bannered coastal lotusLotus salsuginosus var. brevivexillus50 / 99
0.05r33 blue dicksDichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum1 / 158
0.05r34 chinch-weedPectis papposa var. papposa30 / 95
0.07l35sspalkali western tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata ssp. halictorum50 / 98
0.07r36 *sow thistleSonchus oleraceus1 / 148
0.10r37 Emory's rock-daisyPerityle emoryi20 / 929
0.10l38 Coulter's lupineLupinus sparsiflorus99 / 913
0.11r39 *Asian mustardBrassica tournefortii99 / 945
0.13b40 brittlebushEncelia farinosa99 / 953
0.13b41 chiaSalvia columbariae99 / 953
0.14r42 whispering bellsEmmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora20 / 924
0.15l43 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens50 / 984
0.18l  (teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii)
0.19r  (chuparosa, Justicia californica)
0.19l  Jct. old road
0.23l44 fivewing spiderlingBoerhavia intermedia99 / 910
0.23r  Jct. California Riding and Hiking Trail (to Culp Valley); stay right
0.23l45 narrowleaf ditaxisDitaxis lanceolata50 / 931
0.24r46 Wallace's woolly daisyEriophyllum wallacei99 / 97
0.24l  Sign: (hikers ok, no horses)
0.24r47spsuncupCamissonia sp. /
0.24b48 chuparosaJusticia californica50 / 924
0.24r49 brown-eyed primroseCamissonia claviformis ssp. peirsonii50 / 926
0.27l  (rock hibiscus, Hibiscus denudatus)
0.27r50 beavertail cactusOpuntia basilaris var. basilaris10 / 947
0.27r51 thick-leaved ground cherryPhysalis crassifolia5 / 522
0.27l52 common fiddleneckAmsinckia menziesii var. intermedia99 / 924
0.30l  Jct. with small wash
0.34l53 catclawAcacia greggii99 / 948
0.35l  First bit of shade, from a tall ocotillo.
0.35r54 desert lavenderHyptis emoryi50 / 945
0.36l  (star gilia, Gilia stellata)
0.38r55 Bigelow's monkeyflowerMimulus bigelovii var. bigelovii99 / 912
0.39r56 desert chicoryRafinesquia neomexicana10 / 924
0.45r57 Pima rhatanyKrameria erecta5 / 215
0.47l  Jct. wash; stay right
0.50l58 Parish's poppyEschscholzia parishii2 / 215
0.56l59 desert agaveAgave deserti10 / 431
0.56l  (jojoba, Simmondsia chinensis; California barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus)
0.58   Enter open flattish gravelly area; second bit of shade from two more tall ocotillos
0.63r60 Engelmann's hedgehog cactusEchinocereus engelmannii5 / 324
0.64r61 teddy-bear chollaOpuntia bigelovii50 / 933
0.65l  Jct. wash coming in almost parallel to this trail
0.66r62 wishbone plantMirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa20 / 728
0.68l63 star giliaGilia stellata1 / 112
0.68l64 white fiesta flowerPholistoma membranaceum99 / 915
0.70l65~hairy six-weeks fescueVulpia octoflora var. hirtella20 / 52
0.70   Enter a teddy-bear cholla, Opuntia bigelovii forest.
0.70l  (Mojave ragwort, Senecio mohavensis; apricot mallow, Sphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua; woolly lipfern, Cheilanthes parryi)
0.72l66 Parish's viguieraViguiera parishii20 / 928
0.72l67 California trixisTrixis californica var. californica10 / 729
0.73b68 jojobaSimmondsia chinensis10 / 427
0.73l69 eucryptaEucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. bipinnatifida5 / 26
0.75l  (desert woolly-star, Eriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum; intermediate larkspur, Delphinium parishii ssp. subglobosum)
0.77r70 California fish-hook cactusMammillaria dioica5 / 223
0.77r  Sign: "Warning"; but the object of the warning is missing on the sign.
0.89r  Jct old road
0.90r71 trailing four o'clockAllionia incarnata5 / 111
0.90r72 needle gramaBouteloua aristidoides var. aristidoides20 / 57
0.91l73 fringed amaranthAmaranthus fimbriatus10 / 911
0.98l ~(Mormon tea, Ephedra aspera)
1.02l74 bajada lupineLupinus concinnus5 / 238
1.02r75 rock hibiscusHibiscus denudatus2 / 226
1.05r  (Vasey's sage, Salvia vaseyi)
1.14l76 San Felipe dogweedAdenophyllum porophylloides10 / 928
1.16l  (On hillside: big galleta, Pleuraphis rigida; Coulter's lyrepod, Lyrocarpa coulteri var. palmeri)
1.17l  Jct. faint blocked-off old road or broad trail; trail curves right 90°
1.19   Cross small drainage
1.20r  Jct. blocked-off path to creek; trail turns left 90°
1.37   Canyon wall on left now getting close; canyon wall on right now separates Hellhole Canyon from Flat Cat Canyon
1.38r77 wild canterbury bellsPhacelia minor10 / 925
1.44r  Jct. faint use trail to creek
1.44   Creek now 50-100 feet away; trail now parallels creek
1.52   Y-jct; stay right
1.54r  Sign: "Mountain Lion Area"
1.54r  (desert-willow, Chilopsis linearis ssp. arcuata)
1.54r78~Mormon teaEphedra aspera5 / 333
1.55r  (desert mistletoe, Phoradendron californicum)
1.62r79 woolly lipfernCheilanthes parryi20 / 528
1.62   Climb up first 3 foot boulder
1.62r80 Vasey's sageSalvia vaseyi1 / 123
1.69l81 strigose lotusLotus strigosus20 / 953
1.70l82 pellitoryParietaria hespera var. hespera99 / 911
1.70l83 *Oriental mustardSisymbrium orientale10 / 219
1.71l84 odoraPorophyllum gracile1 / 112
1.71r  (African daisy, Dimorphotheca sinuata)
1.72   Trail becomes braided from here on at times, and it may be difficult to follow the braid used by the guide from now on; take right branch which crosses the stream
1.72l85 southern Chinese housesCollinsia concolor20 / 611
1.72b86 *sourcloverMelilotus indicus50 / 927
1.72   Cross stream, now on right side of it.
1.72l87 globe giliaGilia capitata ssp. abrotanifolia30 / 612
1.73l88 California poppyEschscholzia californica1 / 131
1.74   Large patch of Bigelow's monkeyflower, Mimulus bigelovii var. bigelovii
1.74r  (Newberry's velvet mallow, Horsfordia newberryi)
1.78r89 desert-willowChilopsis linearis ssp. arcuata30 / 715
1.80   Trail curves right 40° up bank on right of creek; nice rest spot in creek just ahead that is shaded beginning at ~2 hours before sunset
1.81l90spdaturaDatura sp.20 / 5
1.85r91 sweetbushBebbia juncea var. aspera30 / 954
1.86r92 *nettle-leaved goosefootChenopodium murale10 / 310
1.86   Cross stream to left
1.87l  (desert apricot, Prunus fremontii)
1.89   Trail is overgrown with bushes in places beyond here
1.89r93 apricot mallowSphaeralcea ambigua var. ambigua20 / 920
1.89l94 bird's-foot fernPellaea mucronata var. mucronata2 / 243
1.90   Trail curves right 80° down to cross creek
1.91l95 bladderpodIsomeris arborea20 / 516
1.91   Cross stream to right
1.92r  (Wright's buckwheat, Eriogonum wrightii var. nodosum)
1.93   Cross stream to left
1.94l96 Borrego bedstrawGalium angustifolium ssp. borregoense2 / 22
1.94l97 desert lotusLotus rigidus10 / 218
1.94r98 Wright's buckwheatEriogonum wrightii var. nodosum5 / 321
1.96   Take left braid of trail here; start climbing over boulders regularly and pushing through desert willows occasionally on all braids of trail
1.99l99 western sycamorePlatanus racemosa5 / 333
1.99r100 Indian Valley bush mallowMalacothamnus aboriginum30 / 94
1.99r101~Parish's purple nightshadeSolanum parishii2 / 123
2.00r102 prickly poppyArgemone munita5 / 211
2.00l sp(desert thorn, Lycium sp.; white mugwort, Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula; tall melica, Melica frutescens; sugar bush, Rhus ovata; smoothleaf yerba santa, Eriodictyon trichocalyx var. lanatum)
2.00b103 linear-leaved stillingiaStillingia linearifolia10 / 312
2.01l104 *ripgut bromeBromus diandrus20 / 267
2.01   Rejoin better braid of trail now in the stream; go left on it, upstream; trail gradually leaves the stream to the right
2.01l  (California juniper, Juniperus californica)
2.01l105 short-winged deerweedLotus scoparius var. brevialatus3 / 236
2.02l106 *rabbits-foot grassPolypogon monspeliensis20 / 338
2.02l107 desert baccharisBaccharis sergiloides20 / 712
2.02l108 smoothleaf yerba santaEriodictyon trichocalyx var. lanatum10 / 27
2.03l109 California fan palmWashingtonia filifera50 / 512
2.06l  (red willow, Salix laevigata)
2.06l110 sugar bushRhus ovata4 / 438
2.07l111 Nealley three-awnAristida purpurea var. nealleyi1 / 14
2.08l  (California buckwheat, Eriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium)
  112 Need to locate first occurrence on trail. California buckwheatEriogonum fasciculatum var. polifolium1 / 152
  113 desert apricotPrunus fremontii20 / 514
 l114 goldfieldsLasthenia californica2 / 115
2.12l115 scarlet spiderlingBoerhavia coccinea10 / 13
2.12   Take left braid of trail, squeezing through narrow passageway between boulders, if you want to see the next ten species here; a mortero is just ahead on right braid of trail, which is a much easier way to go in 2010
2.13   Cross stream to left
2.13l  (arrow-leaf, Pleurocoronis pluriseta)
2.13r116~*whorled dockRumex conglomeratus1 / 113
2.13l117 desert tobaccoNicotiana obtusifolia5 / 220
2.13r118 red willowSalix laevigata5 / 332
2.14b119 narrowleaf willowSalix exigua5 / 315
2.15r120 *prickly sow thistleSonchus asper ssp. asper2 / 134
2.15l121~caterpillar phaceliaPhacelia cicutaria var. hispida5 / 126
2.15l122 narrow-leaved miner's lettuceClaytonia parviflora ssp. parviflora3 / 125
2.15r123 mule fatBaccharis salicifolia5 / 346
2.15l124 blue elderberrySambucus mexicana1 / 170
2.16   Cross stream to right
2.16l  (honey mesquite, Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana)
2.16l125 Fremont cottonwoodPopulus fremontii ssp. fremontii2 / 219
2.16l  (mountain California-fuchsia, Epilobium canum ssp. latifolium)
2.18r126~slender buckwheatEriogonum gracile var. incultum3 / 18
2.19   Cross stream to left
2.19l127 white mugwortArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. albula10 / 311
2.20   Cross stream to right and rejoin right braid of trail
2.24   Meet stream and head upstream
2.25b128 mountain California-fuchsiaEpilobium canum ssp. latifolium50 / 266
2.25l129 California cloak fernNotholaena californica2 / 16
2.25l  (ayenia, Ayenia compacta)
2.25r130 deergrassMuhlenbergia rigens5 / 140
2.25l  Check for grass that looked like California brome, Bromus carinatus var. carinatus
2.26r131 wild celeryApiastrum angustifolium5 / 117
2.26l132 *slender wild oatsAvena barbata50 / 548
2.26l133 sticky lipfernCheilanthes viscida5 / 24
2.26 134 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides3 / 145
2.26r135 Mojave ragwortSenecio mohavensis5 / 118
2.26l136 pygmy-weedCrassula connata10 / 137
2.27   Leave stream to right
2.28r137 white sageSalvia apiana2 / 254
2.28r138 western ragweedAmbrosia psilostachya50 / 145
2.28l139 goldenrodSolidago californica10 / 276
2.29c140 horseweedConyza canadensis1 / 148
2.29r141 honey mesquiteProsopis glandulosa var. torreyana30 / 423
2.29b142 *prickly lettuceLactuca serriola5 / 153
2.29r143 slender wreathplantStephanomeria exigua ssp. exigua1 / 121
2.30l144spdesert box-thornLycium sp.10 / 2
2.31r145 desert brickelliaBrickellia desertorum1 / 112
2.31r146 branching phaceliaPhacelia ramosissima var. latifolia20 / 540
2.32l147 silver wormwoodArtemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana10 / 23
2.33l148 climbing milkweedSarcostemma cynanchoides ssp. hartwegii30 / 310
2.33 149 boundary goldenbushEricameria brachylepis1 / 112
2.33 150 beady lipfernCheilanthes covillei20 / 214
2.33   Trail is difficult to follow here; it appears to go straight, but it doesn't. Turn left and clamber over big rock on left.
2.34   Trail branches here. Left branch crosses stream and climbs steeply up around the waterfalls in this area (don't take). The right branch goes to the falls here and then continues up stream. The following species are in the stream crossing.
2.34l151sp*tamariskTamarix sp.2 / 14
2.34l152~rigid hedge-nettleStachys ajugoides var. rigida5 / 142
2.34l  Check for cotton-batting plant, Gnaphalium stramineum
2.34l153 *common cudweedGnaphalium luteo-album5 / 121
2.34l154 California loosestrifeLythrum californicum20 / 13
2.34l155 scarlet monkeyflowerMimulus cardinalis5 / 132
2.34l156~Hooker's evening-primroseOenothera elata ssp. hirsutissima2 / 114
2.34l157~*water speedwellVeronica anagallis-aquatica5 / 15
2.34l158 *common plantainPlantago major5 / 19
2.34l159 *fountain grassPennisetum setaceum20 / 221
2.34l160 white nightshadeSolanum douglasii1 / 118
2.35 161 iris-leaved rushJuncus xiphioides20 / 26
2.35r162 maidenhair fernAdiantum capillus-veneris99 / 22
2.35   Base of a falls with a small number of maidenhair ferns; elevation ~1700 feet (520 m); cross stream to left and climb to top of falls for next two species
2.36b163~water cressRorippa nasturtium-aquaticum10 / 116
2.36b164 littleseed muhlyMuhlenbergia microsperma20 / 14
2.36   Continue upstream through one of several paths through this falls area
 l165 silver puffsUropappus lindleyi1 / 138
2.40l  (white-flowering currant, Ribes indecorum)
2.41r166 desert dudleyaDudleya saxosa ssp. aloides2 / 115
2.45b167 wild grapeVitis girdiana10 / 112
2.45   Schad's Maidenhair Falls at 1880 feet (575 m); best route above it is to the right of the falls
2.46 168 bicolored everlastingGnaphalium bicolor2 / 238
2.47r169 arrow-weedPluchea sericea5 / 112
2.50l170 western bernardiaBernardia myricifolia1 / 17
2.51l171 lotebushZiziphus parryi var. parryi2 / 26
2.51l172~virgin's bowerClematis lasiantha1 / 17
2.52 173 wild-cucumberMarah macrocarpus var. macrocarpus2 / 252
2.52l174 California juniperJuniperus californica1 / 112
2.53l175 desert spike-mossSelaginella eremophila10 / 116
2.53 176 red-gland spurgeChamaesyce melanadenia20 / 24
2.55b177 tall melicaMelica frutescens10 / 24
2.57r178 ayeniaAyenia compacta10 / 111
2.62 179 sacred daturaDatura wrightii1 / 129
2.65   Note spring area so 40 feet or so up the south canyon wall, which may contain Typha sp. End plant trail guide.
5.30   Back at Trailhead

Comments On Specific Species

Eriogonum inflatum. The subspecies inflatum and deflatum are bogus, and were eliminated as valid species in the 2005 Flora of North America treatment. The plants here exhibit stems that range from not inflated at all, to nearly fully inflated below nodes. The inflation apparently depends on the amount of available moisture.

Hibiscus denudatus. The location of the only plant that is on the trail was not recorded; it is someplace in the next half mile of trail.

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana. Several large plants are found immediately off-trail at this location; several plants are found on-trail on the alternate braids of the trail.

Rhus ovata. The first specimen on the trail was burned in the 2002 Pines Fire, and is resprouting.

Senecio mohavensis. The just-off-trail plants at mile 0.70 are normal specimens of this species. The on-trail plants at mile 2.16 are normal in every respect except their lower leaves. The normally-broad lower leaves have been replaced by the narrow upper leaves for these plants!

Tamarix sp.. Two plants about 2-3 feet tall were present on 10/29/05, and were eliminated.

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Copyright © 2005-2013 by Tom Chester, Kay Madore and Mike Crouse
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Last update: 10 December 2013.