At a glance
Distance: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Elevation change: 300 feet
Hiking time: 1 hour, if you go to the top
Highlights: Diverse desert flowers, walls of attractive rubble and a precariously poised “balanced rock”.
A flat stroll up a sandy wash and a short clamber to the top
Trail conditions: ★★★★☆
Mostly sand and nowhere to go but along the wash, but the trail gets confusing as you climb up to the balanced rock
The rough beauty of tumbled boulders, the balanced rock and panoramic views of the desert from there
Moderate traffic until sunset, when there’s a rush to the balanced rock
The walls are a stadium of oblong spires, with a cascade of boulders tumbling down toward the wash; take a close look and you’ll see intricate concentric patterns etched into the rocks.
The patterns are caused by spheroidal weathering, where water penetrates fractures in the rock and erodes its edges, creating the rounded shapes of the spires and boulders. In some places – particularly up by the balanced rock – layers of the boulders are peeling like an onion.
The wash itself is alive with delicate, but hardy desert flora – cenizo, skeleton-leaf goldeneye, creosote, acacia and myriad cactus.
The trail dips in and out of the wash until it turns upward at the sign, “Balanced Rock .25 Mi.” Unless there are people ahead of you, there’s a bit of trial and error involved in the clamber up to the rock, but not enough room to go too far wrong.
At the top a large boulder perches precariously between two spires, creating a window on the rocky desert landscape that stretches out on the other side of the wash.
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