Thanks to the restless San Andreas Fault, the geologic formations of Mecca Hills Wilderness are among the most unusual sites of their kind in the world. Entire regions are exposed layers of eroded rock, some over 600 million years old, and are a source of valuable information to scientists about the effects of tremors on the earth's crust. The area is a badlands labyrinth, a natural maze of small, narrow, steep canyons. Colorful Painted Canyon runs in a general north-south path through the middle of the Wilderness. Sandy washes sprinkled with ironwood, smoke trees, and paloverde divide the area, while ocotillo squat on gentler slopes and the tops of mesas. Bighorn sheep occasionally cross over from the Orocopia Mountains on the east, where they find more water. You may see spotted bats, desert tortoises, and prairie falcons. The non-Wilderness corridor of Box Canyon Road splits off a small southern section of the area in which you'll find Sheep Hole Oasis and Hidden Springs Canyon (reliable sources for water). If you look closely, you'll discover caves, known locally as grottoes.
amazing hike if you can get to it! sign says 4 wheel drive only on a very rocky dirt road. We drove our mini cooper because we are insane but we did make it. I wouldn't try that if it had recently rained as there are a couple washes that look like they could get pretty muddy. Anyway! we missed the initial trail head with the ladders and started with the ropes. There are quite a few very tight spaces, several areas that you have to scramble, and of course climb up some moderately steep rock walls using some moderately frayed ropes ! I think going down the ropes would be much easier which we will try to end the hike with next time. We saw families on the ladder section but mostly hiker types out toward the top of the canyons section. 5.3 miles took two humans and a small dog 3.5 hours with several breaks and lots of picture taking. I wouldn't necessarily recommend taking a dog unless they can be put in a pack. was somewhat bottlenecked with people at the ladders but barely saw amy people farther into the hike. This hike was so freaking awesome definitely do this one ya won't forget it.
Awesome hike. You can mix and match through most of the trails and make your own loops. You will stay on the main canyon until you come across the arrows made out of rocks on the ground. It's about a 10 min hike from the parking area. They point towards the entrance to the ladder canyon trail. It is somewhat hidden so keep an eye for the entrance.
Fantastic must do hike! Don't mind the sign that says 4 wheel drive only; my little hybrid did fine. Heading up the canyon to start, there is an easily accessed slot canyon to the left in maybe the first tenth of a mile. This is not part of the loop as far as I know. The slot you want is a bit further mostly blocked by a landslide, but probably marked with a rock arrow. Enjoy the narrow passageways and easily climbed ladders! The trail should be easy to follow from there and stay to the right at any junctions. I loved going early in the day to beat the heat.
We did this hike with kids as young as 4. We only made it about 1/4 of the way, but it was great fun for all. If you take the trail starting at the left (you have to go through a bouldery area-- look for the arrow someone made with rocks to help
You find it) you encounter some fun ladders to climb up. We turned around when we got to the viewpoint, which has an amazing view of the canyon (great photo op too :)) had a snack for about 15-20 mins and headed back next time we will take only older kids/ and adults and make the whole 5.3 mile hike. Highly
Recommend this trail to anyone in the area. Happy hiking!! CG
Jewel Q. on Ladder Canyon Trail
If you like climbing this is the trail for you!
Georganne N. on Ladder Canyon Trail
Beautiful hike. I highly recommend it.
A geologists dream hike! Great rocks and an even better "great unconformity"! Completed this hike on 11/25/16. The trailhead is super easy to find because there are sooooo many other cars there. We did the ladder loop counter-clockwise, which ascends two waterfalls in the northeast canyon and descends four waterfalls in the southwest Canyon and saves the narrow slot canyon for the end. There are a bunch of unmarked trails at the top and we got a little lost but found our way into the main canyon by going down a steep cliff side. Really great hike! Would definitely do it again!