Thimble Trail

Total Miles


318.47 ft


0.5 Hours

Technical Rating



Best Time

Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter

Trail Overview

Thimble Trail is a 2.1-mile point-to-point trail rated 3 of 10 within the California Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The trail is restricted to street-legal vehicles. Thimble Trail provides the shortest off-road route to the Borrego Badlands. The trail runs north/south with trail access right off Highway S22. The south end of the trail connects with Short Wash and provides access to badland overviews such as Vista del Malpais and Font's Point (both accessed from Short Wash). The beginning of the trail may be driven by any 2 or 4WD high-clearance vehicle, but after a short distance, the sand gets deeper and a 4WD vehicle is highly recommended. Beware, this is also the shortest path for hikers who park near the highway and may be encountered along the trail. The trail crosses the alluvial plains and sand dunes which formed on the north side of the badlands. Upon reaching the south end of the trail, Vista del Malpais is to the east and Font's Point is to the west. Both should be visited for unbridled views of the badlands. Cell phone service is intermittent. The nearest services are located in Borrego Springs.

Photos of Thimble Trail

Thimble Trail
Thimble Trail
Thimble Trail


The trail consists of loose rocks, dirt, and sand with some slick rock surfaces and mud holes possible. No steps are higher than 12 inches. 4WD may be required, and aggressive tires are a plus.


The badlands at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park result from multiple phases of both erosion (easily seen from any of the sweeping vistas) and sediment deposition (indicated by each layer). After deposition, the sandy and silty sediments were buried under sheets of gravelly alluvium shed from the rising mountains. The gravel cap protected the underlying sediments from erosion for some time. Eventually, the cap itself eroded, exposing the weaker underlying sediments to rapid erosion. Water is the primary agent of erosion in this parched region. Rainfall sufficient to produce erosion is relatively rare--occurring as periodic flash floods. Through time, however, the effects have become very distinct.

Technical Rating


Status Reports

Emma Paige
Mar 31, 2024
first portion is pretty hard packed. sand gets looser as you go on, few ruts. completed trail in the rain with 2WD 4runner. Few low clearance vehicles on beginning portion all turned back.
Disco Cabrera
Feb 20, 2024
2014 Toyota 4Runner
Trail was good. A few rutted spots to watch. Especially near hills. Pretty drive with views of surrounding mountains. Also beautiful desert Flora.

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