Anza-Borrego: Plant Guide To Alcoholic Pass Trail

Introduction and Explanation of Plant Trail Guides

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


The Alcoholic Pass Trail traverses Coyote Mountain in a cross-section from its south side to its north side, from Coyote Creek to Clark Valley. Coyote Mountain has a very odd profile here, with a steep southern slope, an almost flat top, and a long very gentle northern slope. In contrast, in the area of the peak of Coyote Mountain, the profile is nearly symmetric. The complex profiles are undoubtedly due to Coyote Mountain itself being an uplifted block between two strands of the San Jacinto Fault, and therefore subjected to considerable stress and strain. The topography here is also heavily influenced by the West Coyote Mountain Fault, which goes through the saddle here and separates the Ocotillo Formation on the west from the basement rocks on the east.

The trailhead is on the main Coyote Canyon dirt road, 2.5 miles north of the end of the pavement on DiGiorgio Road in Borrego Springs. Except after heavy rains, or when Coyote Creek has a lot of water, the dirt road is usually passable with careful driving by passenger cars. Wallace Tucker drove his Prius to the trailhead with no problems on 2/23/10, and we've seen mini-vans parked at the trailhead before.

The hike begins on the north edge of Coyote Creek Wash at a signed trailhead. At mile 0.16, you begin ascending a steep slope and gain 500 feet of elevation in the next 0.48 miles, a punishing rate of 1000 feet per mile that is made trivial if one is going at a slow botanizing pace. The trail then is essentially level for the next 0.27 miles. The trail then descends at the very gentle rate of 220 feet per mile for the 2.7 miles down to Rockhouse Canyon Road.

Highlights of This Trail

The following histogram gives the number of trails in our database that contain each taxon on this trail. We had 191 of our trails and floras in our database when this histogram was made; 53 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 Taxa89100%

We found 1 additional taxon not in the above table, since it has 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.

The taxa that are unique to this trail, or found on only four or fewer other trails or floras that we have done (up to five total trails including this one), out of all 191 plant trail guides throughout southern California, as of 26 February 2010, are:

# trails / florasScientific NameCommon Name
1Cryptantha nevadensisNevada cryptantha
1Linanthus jonesiiJones' linanthus
2Calycoseris parryiyellow tackstem
3Filago depressadwarf filago
3Cryptantha decipiensgravel cryptantha
4Langloisia setosissima ssp. setosissimabristly langloisia
5Loeseliastrum matthewsiidesert calico

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"

Note what a difference it makes covering the trail in December or in March! The number of reliably-identified taxa more than doubled.

The trail was only covered to mile 2.93 on 2/23/10; 2.55 on 12/22/07; and mile 1.41 on 3/21/08. Just the lower two miles were covered on 12/27/07.

We thank RT Hawke and Wallace Tucker for assistance with the 2/23/10 fieldwork.

Botanical Trip Reports

22 December 2007

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!

The mileages have been obtained by a GPS recording for most of the species, with the route then drawn using Topo!. The relative mileages are probably accurate to ~0.02 miles, with the absolute accuracy somewhat worse.

Version for printing, without lines and other text on this page: html (4 pages) or pdf Clickbook booklet (1 double-sided page). (See printing instructions for an explanation of these options)

See Explanation of Plant Trail Guides for an explanation of the column headers.

miles#idCommon NameLatin Name#here#all
0.00   The following annuals, given in alphabetical order by scientific name, are within ~100 feet of the trailhead; no "trail side" is given for them:
0.00 1 frost matAchyronychia cooperi10 / 29
0.00 2 *Asian mustardBrassica tournefortii99 / 949
0.00 3 sand cressCalyptridium monandrum1 / 121
0.00 4 California suncupCamissonia californica99 / 964
0.00 5 brown-eyed primroseCamissonia claviformis ssp. peirsonii99 / 926
0.00 6 pale sun-cupCamissonia pallida ssp. pallida10 / 212
0.00 7 Fremont pincushionChaenactis fremontii99 / 914
0.00 8 brittle spineflowerChorizanthe brevicornu var. brevicornu99 / 932
0.00 9 narrow-leaved cryptanthaCryptantha angustifolia99 / 921
0.00 10 bearded cryptanthaCryptantha barbigera10 / 222
0.00 11 purple-root cryptanthaCryptantha micrantha20 / 521
0.00 12 papillate dodderCuscuta californica var. papillosa50 / 913
0.00 13 spectacle-podDithyrea californica10 / 19
0.00 14 whispering bellsEmmenanthe penduliflora var. penduliflora5 / 526
0.00 15 small-flowered poppyEschscholzia minutiflora ssp. minutiflora99 / 917
0.00 16 Parish's poppyEschscholzia parishii20 / 517
0.00 17 dwarf filagoFilago depressa10 / 13
0.00 18 star giliaGilia stellata50 / 913
0.00 19 hairy-podded pepper-grassLepidium lasiocarpum var. lasiocarpum30 / 933
0.00 20 desert calicoLoeseliastrum matthewsii30 / 95
0.00 21~strigose lotusLotus strigosus1 / 154
0.00 22 Arizona lupineLupinus arizonicus99 / 927
0.00 23 desert dandelionMalacothrix glabrata99 / 919
0.00 24 desert needlePalafoxia arida var. arida5 / 126
0.00 25 curvenut combseedPectocarya recurvata99 / 913
0.00 26 Emory's rock-daisyPerityle emoryi5 / 232
0.00 27 little-flowered heliotrope phaceliaPhacelia crenulata var. minutiflora30 / 919
0.00 28 desert plantainPlantago ovata99 / 935
0.00 29 desert chicoryRafinesquia neomexicana40 / 928
0.00 30 *Mediterranean schismusSchismus barbatus99 / 953
0.00   Begin guide at sign "Alcoholic Pass"; elevation 930 feet (283 m).
0.00r31 ocotilloFouquieria splendens ssp. splendens99 / 953
0.00l32 burroweedAmbrosia dumosa99 / 951
0.00r33 Gander's chollaOpuntia ganderi99 / 943
0.00r34 indigo bushPsorothamnus schottii40 / 947
0.00r35 creosote bushLarrea tridentata99 / 957
0.00l36 cheesebushHymenoclea salsola var. salsola99 / 946
0.02b37 teddy-bear chollaOpuntia bigelovii99 / 936
0.02l  (California fagonia, Fagonia laevis; Bigelow's desert four-o'clock, Mirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa)
0.02 38 hairy sand-verbenaAbronia villosa var. villosa1 / 110
0.02r39 wire-lettuceStephanomeria pauciflora var. pauciflora4 / 254
0.02l40 desert trumpetEriogonum inflatum3 / 240
0.02r41 pebble pincushionChaenactis carphoclinia var. carphoclinia99 / 914
0.02l42 *redstem filareeErodium cicutarium99 / 986
0.03r43 narrowleaf ditaxisDitaxis lanceolata30 / 936
0.04r44 big galletaPleuraphis rigida30 / 947
0.04r45 brittlebushEncelia farinosa99 / 956
0.05r  (beavertail cactus, Opuntia basilaris var. basilaris)
0.05r46 desert lavenderHyptis emoryi99 / 948
0.05l47 small-seeded spurgeChamaesyce polycarpa30 / 956
0.08l48 beavertail cactusOpuntia basilaris var. basilaris20 / 951
0.09r49 California fagoniaFagonia laevis30 / 925
0.12r50 Thomas' buckwheatEriogonum thomasii30 / 521
0.13r51 Bigelow's desert four-o'clockMirabilis bigelovii var. retrorsa20 / 932
0.14r52 chiaSalvia columbariae10 / 356
0.15r  (Bigelow's monkeyflower, Mimulus bigelovii var. bigelovii)
0.16   Leave wash and go onto steep slope
0.17   Switchback right
0.17r53 Booth's evening primroseCamissonia boothii ssp. condensata3 / 226
0.17r  Check for Chorizanthe rigida
0.18   Switchback left
0.18r  (Palmer's coldenia, Tiquilia palmeri)
0.27r54?*knapweed or thistleCentaurea or Cnicus sp.1 / 1 
0.29r55 trailing four o'clockAllionia incarnata1 / 112
0.29r56 Pima rhatanyKrameria erecta+40 / 917
0.45   Elevation 1350 feet (411 m)
0.47b57 rock hibiscusHibiscus denudatus4 / 229
0.63b58 Nevada cryptanthaCryptantha nevadensis30 / 51
0.64   End steep climb at minor local high point; elevation 1500 feet (457 m)
0.71r59 California trixisTrixis californica var. californica3 / 333
0.71r  (star-flowered bedstraw, Galium stellatum var. eremicum; San Felipe dogweed, Adenophyllum porophylloides; California barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus)
0.76b60 sweetbushBebbia juncea var. aspera20 / 957
0.77r  (gravel cryptantha, Cryptantha decipiens)
0.78r61 California barrel cactusFerocactus cylindraceus+2 / 246
0.79l62 bristly langloisiaLangloisia setosissima ssp. setosissima10 / 14
0.80   Sign in sheet "Summit Register"; elevation 1560 feet (475 m); trail is flat now
0.80b63 desert lilyHesperocallis undulata5 / 215
0.80l64~yellow tackstemCalycoseris parryi1 / 12
0.91   Start downhill; view of Clark Valley; elevation 1560 feet (475 m)
0.93l  (California filago, Filago californica)
0.93r  (woolly lipfern, Cheilanthes parryi)
0.94r65 star-flowered bedstrawGalium stellatum var. eremicum2 / 221
0.96r66 eucryptaEucrypta chrysanthemifolia var. bipinnatifida20 / 27
0.96r67 Mojave ragwortSenecio mohavensis20 / 920
0.96r68 *red bromeBromus madritensis ssp. rubens5 / 189
0.96r69 *brome fescueVulpia bromoides5 / 19
0.96r70 Jones' linanthusLinanthus jonesii10 / 21
0.97r71 woolly lipfernCheilanthes parryi20 / 232
0.97r72 wing-nut cryptanthaCryptantha pterocarya10 / 29
0.97r73 threadstemPterostegia drymarioides20 / 150
0.98r74 Mormon teaEphedra aspera3 / 19
0.99r75 gravel cryptanthaCryptantha decipiens5 / 13
1.00r76 San Felipe dogweedAdenophyllum porophylloides2 / 214
1.00r77 jojobaSimmondsia chinensis10 / 232
1.00r78 common phaceliaPhacelia distans99 / 941
1.03r79 arrow-leafPleurocoronis pluriseta3 / 128
1.03b80 Vasey's sageSalvia vaseyi10 / 323
1.09l81 catclawAcacia greggii50 / 951
1.19l82 devil's spineflowerChorizanthe rigida1 / 112
1.22l83 Bigelow's monkeyflowerMimulus bigelovii var. bigelovii20 / 513
1.26l  Some 7' tall Vasey's sage, S. vaseyi
1.31r84 Engelmann's hedgehog cactusEchinocereus engelmannii3 / 327
1.32r85~desert woolly-starEriastrum eremicum ssp. eremicum2 / 223
1.40 86 smooth western tansy-mustardDescurainia pinnata ssp. glabra10 / 210
1.41r87 smoke treePsorothamnus spinosus20 / 524
1.60r   (fish-hook cactus, Mammillaria dioica)
1.62   Elevation 1400 feet (427 m)
1.90l88 white rhatanyKrameria grayi / 39
2.18r89 pencil chollaOpuntia ramosissima3 / 120
2.42   Elevation 1200 feet (366 m)
2.93r90 desert mistletoePhoradendron californicum2 / 242
3.30   Elevation 1000 feet (305 m)
3.59   End trail at Rockhouse Canyon Dirt Road; elevation 960 feet (293 m)

Comments On Specific Species

Krameria erecta. There were no fruit or flowers on the first plants on the trail, so their determination is not 100% positive; the identification comes from a plant at mile 0.37 that had fruit.

Ferocactus cylindraceus. The varieties are not recognized in the Flora of North America treatment for the excellent reason that they don't actually exist.

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Copyright © 2007-2010 by Tom Chester and Wayne Armstrong
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Last update: 26 February 2010.