On the far east side of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there is a short hike to a fascinating destination overlooking the Carrizo Badlands. This 1.25-mile round trip hike climbs 250 feet to a sandstone formation with wind-eroded pockets that insist on being explored.
The hike begins with a quick ascent up the east side of Split Mountain Wash. Climb a series of rocky steps. With each gain, the view to the west and south expands over the sprawling badlands. This would be a scenic trail even if there were not exciting wind caves half a mile up the ridge.
A few single tracks split off up the undulating mountainside. They all end up at the same place, but try to stick to the most worn trail. After one last rise, the wind caves come into view. The pocketed sandstone is full of interesting alcoves, caves and tunnels. Crawl through, climb over, and investigate.
A spur trail heads northeast further up Fish Creek Mountain, and another heads south a short distance to a small knoll with sweeping views over the wash and badlands. Below the wind caves to the west, a less-used single track descends to a small collection of sandstone caves. This track reunites with the main trail not far above the wash. Descend via this route to add a nice loop to the hike.
The wind caves are a wonderful destination for a short hike, and getting to Wind Caves Trail is an adventure of its own. Enjoy the impressive drive. Dogs are not permitted. No fee or permit is required, so get out and enjoy.