Really did not feel like making the long drive out to Anza-Borrego, plus Ted could only hike in the morning and Susie had out-of-town guests. So, instead, we decided to do a nice loop that combined 3 WBC hikes into one. We pulled into a moderately full parking lot at Daley Ranch about 7:30, grabbed our gear, and set off. After the short climb under the sign, we continued north until we reached the turnoff to the Boulder Loop Trail. After another little climb, Ted shed a layer before we continued on. At our next junction, we debated taking the slightly shorter route but opted for the longer one. I finally found a spot to snap my required photo. Some mountain bikers were resting at the gazebo near the junction with Cougar Ridge trail.
We descended down to almost where we turned off to start the Boulder Loop Trail, then made a left turn to head to the Ranch House, my second spot for my photo. After a quick snack and helping a mountain biker with some directions we headed toward the Sage Trail and eventually to Stanley Peak.
We had another short climb before the trail leveled off for a while. One of the ponds lay off to our right. As the peak drew nearer, we had to decide to take the longer route or the shorter and steep route past the water tank. The longer route won again. We began our climb to the summit. Partway up a mountain biker passed us, but just a few minutes later he stopped to catch his breath. This happened twice more until we reached the summit nearly at the same time.
The summit was crowded, so we found a quiet spot to snap a few photos. We commented that we are not used to crowds given our usual hiking adventures. Most of the crowd left en masse, so we popped over to the eastern view for a quick look, then the west view before beginning back down.
We opted to take the water tank route, just to avoid some people. Our route had a small amount of backtracking but we soon made it to the junction with the Diamondback trail that would take us to the Coyote Run Trail, then onto the East Ridge Trail, and finally onto the Creek Crossing Trail. We could see Dixon Lake to our left as we neared the now very full parking lot. We tossed in our gear and changed our shirts before heading over to Burger Bench for a well-earned lunch and brew.