Ladder Canyon Trail

MODERATE 123 reviews
#1 of 5 trails in

Ladder Canyon Trail is a 5.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Desert Center, California that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from October until April. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.3 miles 1492 feet Loop

dogs on leash



nature trips

trail running




wild flowers


old growth



washed out

no dogs

Grapefruit Blvd (also Hwy 111), left on 66th Ave, which will transition to Box Canyon Rd., left on Painted Canyon Rd.

14 minutes ago


Fantastic! Too hard for small children or elderly but WOW! So many different gorgeous views!

18 hours ago

Wonderful views, moderate exertion. Absolutely worth checking out!! It's a lot of fun and kids can easily handle it.

3 days ago

I took my small car and was just fine. it feel like driving on a washboard getting there though. At the very very beginning of the trail there is a small tree on the left with a little path going between it and the canyon wall I followed this and it lead me to a canyon opening behind the tree. This I learned does not go the ladders. It goes to climbing the ropes. when I finally made it out of the canyon after 3 ropes you immediately go up the ridge on the right and at the top you're greeted by an arrow pointing towards you and from there the only way to go is left. i was told to go right at the second arrow but never found it. the trail on the ridge looked like it scrambled up a rock before continuing. at this point there's a trail that connects to the ridge that goes down into another canyon. i decided to go down into the canyon. once at the bottom I turned right which took me to the ladders and back to the parking lot.

6 days ago

nice rock twisting

14 days ago

18 days ago

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.

18 days ago

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.

23 days ago

Bring water. Will be returning forsure!

24 days ago

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.

26 days ago

26 days ago

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

28 days ago

29 days ago

Had a great time doing this trail. Got a little lost, but someone pointed me in the right direction. The ladders are fun and unique, but I would leave your dog at home if your planning on doing that part of the trail.

30 days ago

1 month ago

Fun hike

1 month ago

If you like climbing this is the trail for you!

1 month ago

Besides being a bit crowded, it was a very fantastically beautiful hike!

1 month ago