Blair Valley sits on the east side of S2 south of Hwy 78 in the Anza Borrego State Park and was once the home of Marshall South who lived with his family atop Ghost Mountain. The valley offers excellent dry camping and if your rig is a 4WD you can find excellent isolated spots to camp. Have I mentioned I need a Global Expedition Vehicle?
Besides hiking up Ghost Mountain to see the ruins of Marshall South’s house, there are also many other hikes in the area. Two of the popular ones are the Morteros hike and the Pictographs hike.
The area had some rain and some snow in the past week so the roads were still a bit damp but no problem traversing.
The Morteros trail head is about ½ mile past the Marshall South turnoff. The ‘Ehmuu-Morteros trail is a short 1 mile round trip interpretive hike detailing the Kumeyaay people’s seasonal home. ‘Ehmuu is Kumeyaay for mortar (morteros in Spanish) and was used by the Kumeyaay people to grind wild foods into flour. There are brochures at the trailhead that you can utilize (and keep if you want otherwise please return to the box) to lead you through 9 points of interest.
The plant life in this area is quite diverse and includes agave, juniper, yucca, creosote, jojoba, and many other plants tha the Kumeyaay used for food, tools, clothing, medicine, and shelter. Just a plethora of supplies!
A little further on the trail is a pictograph of Indian rock art. The art was probably made by charcoal and cucumber seeds for the black paint and iron oxide for the red paint. And as you turn around and head back on the trail you are provided with fabulous views of Little Blair Valley.
A little over a mile further is the Pictographs hike. The jeep road dead ends into the trail head so it is very easy to find (and very well marked). The hike is a short, easy hike of about 1.0 mile in each direction. The trail head sign describes it as a 20 minute hike. If you continue on to Smugglers Canyon, another ½ mile then the hike becomes a 3 mile round trip. This makes for an easy day.
After the Pictographs it is well worth it to head on to Smugglers Canyon. One of the few places we have hiked downhill and received a terrific view at the end of the trail. When you arrive in the Canyon you get a sweeping vista of Valecito Valley and a great spot for lunch.
But then, of course, you have to hike up hill to get back to the Pictographs and then all downhill to the beginning of the trail. A great easy hike.