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.
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!
Regarding the description of this hike.
The location is on Painted Canyon Road just off Box Canyon Road located half way between Desert Center and the town of Mecca. There are a number of waterfalls on this hike all of them dry. That’s where the ladders are located. Dogs that can climb or be packed up ladders do well on the hike, other dogs should stay home. Additionally this is NOT a lightly traveled hike as evidenced by the hundred or so cars seen in the parking area on a good weekend.
First time hiking this trail last Saturday. It was confusing and wasn't sure if we were going the right way (from the parking lot and to the trail). I was skeptical on how to get to the trail, but thankfully a couple next to us has been to the ladders before and helped guided us to it.
Tons of fun and great photo ops on this trail! I'd say the beginning and end of the trail had all the fun ladders. The rest of the trail were open/canyon (very rocky/sandy; hah, I always seem to kick up sand into my shoes. I had to stop twice to remove them).
I somehow didn't see the ropes in this trail and missed it. I will be coming back to tackle the ropes!
It's a pretty easy trail, but it is very fulfilling due to all of the beautiful view. By far, my favorite hike in this area. AT the furthest end of the trail, where is loops back around, there's two trails, which confused us and we ended up having to backtrack. When it Ys off, you can take the trail downhill, or the trail to the right, which stays uphill. Take the trail that leads downhill. Once you get to the bottom, go right. It was a little confusing for us, at that, because there were arrows pointing the way that we just came.
Overall, I love this trail. It's beautiful.
If you only do one hike in the desert you must do this one. I had no clue that this was here. It is very family friendly and the view is amazing. Check out all the pictures my blog about the trail here.
Amazing trail! You get to hiking through a canyon that is small enough to only fit one person at a time in some areas. The trail is true to its name in that you have to climb and descend ladders. You also hike to a small summit that overlooks the mountains in the area and its beautiful! Pretty easy hike but make sure to do it when its not scorching hot! ***A word of caution*** There is one ladder section that has a bees nest right next to it! Its about half way coming back if you do the loop clockwise, which means you will be descending the ladder. The bee hive is right next to the top of the ladder. Just take it slow and you should be fine.