Desert Trail

The Desert Trail is roughly 1550m stretching across the inland deserts of California, Nevada, and eastern Oregon. The hot and arid Borrego, Sonora, and Mojave Deserts blanket California, while the Basin and Range topography provide dramatic skies and rugged isolation, and finally the route wends its way across the high desert sagebrush plains of eastern Oregon. While there is no shortage of views, lack of water is the biggest obstacle. This is a route for long distance hikers seeking a navigational challenge, as well as putting a complete hiker skill set to play.

For a further resource site, please visit Buck Nelson's site. Buck reinvigorated the spirit of the DT back in 2012 by thru-hiking it and  thoroughly delving into the history and the route description on his site. He also plotted the route from Drinkwater Pass in east-central Oregon all the way up to Canada., where the DTA ran out of steam for a continuous route to Canada. His site provides the info you need for that extension. 

Update: Buck-30 and his partner Heather hiked the entire length of Desert Trail in 2019. Fastidious in not only their effort, B30 put together some amazing resources and feedback for the DT. Below are the listed links for those resources on his Postholer journal. Very insightful, informative, and objective with valuable opinions where necessary. Thanks B30!

Desert Trail Route Description:

Desert Trail Blog Entries:

Water Resource Page:

Thanks to SheRa for the template which is the same structure as for the ODT.

Resupply Resource Page:

Once again, thanks to SheRa for the template.

Desert Trail Map Set:

I have decided against putting out a map set for three reasons:
  • I am hesitant to put out a map set for a route that isn't that yet established, as well as considering my lack of upkeep in these maps.
  • I do not want to take away from the Desert Trail Guidebooks set from the original forefathers of the books and the DT iteslf, especially with incurring a responsibility of payment, let alone redistribution to the authors or DTA.
  • Lastly, all the most current data I had plotted and waypointed were suddenly lost as GAIA GPS did not save my updates, water points, and other pertinent info. I still have the GPS track/folder but I will not give out freely unless I know who the potential hiker is.


  1. Dude, this is rad. Are you going to cache water or just freeball it?

    1. I only cached water for the first 250 miles. Other than that I freeballed.

  2. When you started the trail in Jacumba did you hike the railroad tracks from DeAnza Springs Resort to the S2? Or did you hike the canyon below the tracks for that first twenty something miles? I ask because the railroad started patrolling the tracks and I know that canyon is a horrible bushwhack. I was thinking about heading over the jacumba range to the s2 to start.

    1. I walked in the Carrizo Gorge as that was the original intent of the Desert Trail. From Jacumba you can utilize S2 until the Hot Springs just north of I8. Then there's a route that traverses and dips down into the gorge, thus avoiding the tracks.

  3. Hey DM! Met you and Sprocket haulin ass up the last leg of the PCT in 16 as I was starting SB. I just followed Chance’s thru of this route and would definitely want to try this. Any beta in addition to what you have generously provided would be greatly appreciated- Drifter