The Slot-Hawk Canyon Loop

Page Type
Route
Location:
California, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking
Season:
Winter
Time Required:
Half a day
Difficulty:
Hike

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The Slot-Hawk Canyon Loop
Created On: Jan 10, 2015
Last Edited On: Oct 26, 2017

Overview

The Slot refers to a short slot canyon in the eroded hills near West Butte in southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. In some places the canyon is so narrow that you may have a hard time going through it with a large backpack. Hiking the canyon will take most people no more than 20 minutes. As an added bonus, I am describing a hike beyond where the slot canyon opens into Borrego Wash, onto San Felipe Wash and then Butte Canyon to make a 9.6 mile long hike around West Butte giving you spectacular views of badlands and the arid mountains rising above them. A short excursion into the nearby Hawk Canyon, can take you to the colorful slopes at the upper end of the canyon. Except for the slot canyon, everything else described here is a four wheel drive road.

MapMap

Getting There

From the junction of Route 78 and Borrego Springs Road, drive 1.5 miles east on Route 78 and turn left (north) onto Buttes Pass dirt Road. Drive 1 mile to a split. Left goes to The Slot and right to Buttes Canyon Road. The split is the start of the hike described here. If you want to hike The Slot only, turn left and drive another 0.9 miles.

The road is smooth and under normal conditions, 4 wheel drive may not be needed. There are, however, sandy sections, use your judgment. Personally, I would like to have 4 wheel drive just in case.

Route Description

Place
Elevation
Distance
Starting Point
690 ft
zero miles
The Slot
830 ft
0.9 miles
San Felipe Wash
360 ft
3.2 miles
Butte Canyon
270 ft
1.9 miles
Starting Point
690 ft
2.7 miles
Up Hawk Canyon and back
-
0.9 miles
Total
-
9.6 miles


As mentioned above, the starting point of the hike described here is where Butte Pass Road splits one mile north of Rout 78.

Sunset Mountain
From Butte Pass Road


Turn left and hike the road 0.9 miles to reach a parking area. You can see a canyon below you.

Going down into the canyon known as The SlotThis is where you get down into The Slot


You will find beaten paths down the steep walls of the canyon. Follow one of them down and continue at the bottom of the canyon into The Slot.

The Slot
The Slot
The Slot
The Slot
The Slot
Lower end of The Slot


As you keep going, The Slot opens up until you will find Jeep tracks at the bottom of the canyon.

Lower end of The Slot
The Slot opening into Borrego Wash


Continue down Borrego wash.

Borrego Wash
Borrego Wash
Borrego Wash
Borrego Wash
Borrego Wash
Borrego Wash


Soon the badlands including Fonts Point will come to view.

Badlands & Santa Rosa Mountains
Fonts PointFonts Point


You will then reach the junction with San Felipe Wash.

Travellers Peak
Badlands & Santa Rosa Mountains
Badlands & Santa Rosa Mountains
Badlands & Santa Rosa Mountains


West Butte can now be seen.

West ButteWest Butte


Turn right (east) and hike down San Felipe wash.

Travellers Peak from San Felipe Wash
Junction of San Felipe & Borrego Wash
San Ysidro Mountain from San Felipe Wash
From San Felipe Wash
San Felipe Wash
San Felipe Wash


At the junction with Butte Canyon, turn right and hike up the wash.

Junction of Butte & San Felipe Wash
Butte Wash
Traveller s Peak
Butte Wash


East Butte will now be in good view. From far away, the white dirt on its slopes looks like a mountain glacier.

Desert GlacierWhite sand on the mountain looks like a glacier


Continuing up Butte Canyon.

West Butte
Butte Canyon
Butte Canyon
Butte Canyon


At the junction with Hawk Canyon, turn right and walk half a mile to see the colorful slopes.

Hawk Canyon
Hawk Canyon


Hawk Canyon


Come back to the Butte Canyon Road and follow a short distance back to the starting place.

Essential Gear

Hiking equipment

When to Hike

Winter, late autumn and early spring. Summer can be dangerously hot.

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