Ladder Canyon Trail

MODERATE 64 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

Ladder Canyon Trail is a 5.3 mile lightly trafficked loop trail located near Desert Center, CA that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from October until April. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.3 miles 1115 feet Loop

dogs on leash

kid friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

waterfall

wild flowers

bugs

old growth

rocky

scramble

washed out

no dogs

One of the trails at Mecca Hills, open all year all skill level. This is reference Hike #3 "Big Painted Canyon" which you can find inside 140 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
3 months ago

So beautiful

hiking
5 months ago

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.
https://lovz2hike.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/mecca-hills-painted-canyon-ladder-canyon-hike/

hiking
5 months ago

One gorgeous turn after another.

hiking
5 months ago

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.

hiking
6 months ago

Great scenic trail with fun slot canyons, ladders and rock formations. Spectacular views once above the rocks.

6 months ago

If you love the desert and canyons this is for you.

hiking
6 months ago

6 months ago

Beautiful hike! Absolutely beautiful
It just gets nicer as you get higher up and the ladders are fun

6 months ago

One of my favorite hikes in the desert. I've done it maybe six times now. I would caution people not to hike it alone. The ladders are pretty tall. Plus you should never hike alone anyways. Also this area is pretty sketchy. Lots of drug deals go down out in this area. The last time I was out here there was actually a sting operation in progress. Great hike though. Don't go if it's raining!

hiking
6 months ago

So much fun! Bring plenty of water and be prepared to walk on sand on the way in/out of Ladder Canyon.

hiking
7 months ago

Hiked the Ladders today 2/23. Was a great hike as usual, one of my all time favorites. On the return ladders, we encountered a swarm of bees that were just below the second ring of the first ladder, and a few on the last ladder near the top. Not wanting to return 3+ miles to avoid them, we went through them. Don't recommend it. They will likely be gone in a week or two.

hiking
7 months ago

I've hiked this trail many times. Part of it goes through a slot canyon, in some areas barely 4-5 feet wide. It's a geologist"s dream with well differentiated sedimentary rock layers.

hiking
8 months ago

I've been all around the country hiking but I have to say this trail makes it into my top 5 for these reasons: unique hike involving a series of ladders. Numerous washes of color at almost every turn along the canyon trail especially at sunrise and/or set. The width of the trail differs immensely from claustrophobic tight to mini Grand Canyon wide. Spectacular views of mount San jacinto and associated ranges. Beautiful foliage primarily in spring when everything is in bloom. This truly is a well rounded hike.

8 months ago

Awesome hike. Challenging but doable for the novice.

hiking
8 months ago

So much fun. Really beautiful.

9 months ago

9 months ago

This is a great trail! Completed it December 15th on a cool, sunny day. High about 65.
First time out there to hike and had a little trouble finding the correct roads at first. The directions from this app were accurate but we stayed on Hammond in Mecca instead of staying left and had to come back. Parking area is easy to find at the end of the dirt road.
Reading reviews about staying left at the start misled us a little. We immediately went left off the parking area where the main trail (wash) continued straight. Going left leads to a great narrow canyon trail. We made it about 1/4 mile into it before finding it pretty well blocked by boulders.
After coming back out and starting on the main wash trail, the "left" was obvious with a large arrow made of rocks pointing that way. Even still it took a little persistence to get around some obstacles before finding the first ladder going down about 20 feet. From there it is a very easy to follow trail. All the ladders were secure and in good shape. A couple may be challenging depending on each hiker's physical condition, etc. The views from the top of the Salton Sea and Mt. San Jacinto are beautiful. Follow the rock arrows as others have noted since there are several other trails up there. Coming back down is easy with a couple more ladders. The rock formations in the canyon during the final part of this hike are really impressive. With the initial detour, then taking the full loop I measured it at 5.75 miles and with some rest stops it took us just under 3 1/2 hours. This is a great hike.

9 months ago

9 months ago

Great, do it in the morning hours.