Explore Desert Trails - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Desert Trails Map
VIEW FULL MAP

Hidden gem in the backroads of BLM land. This trail is full of caverns, ladder bridges and at the same time, wide open spaces, washes and amazing views. One of my favorite hikes in or out of Joshua tree.

hiking
2 days ago

Did this one today. Road says closed because of recent rains but it didn’t seem to stop anyone. You will need AWD to make it back though all the sand to get to the parking. Lots of ladders, bouldering, and scrambles, beautiful views from the top. SLOT CANYON, so much fun, and beautiful.

Just don't take the first canyon trail unless young and in-shape. I mistakenly did. Wild and exciting but demands rope-climbing capacity and more. Rope pretty narrow so gloves required. Should have partner in case of trouble.

hiking
5 days ago

We've got a trip planned for Thanksgiving Weekend. I'd appreciate any updated road info for Painted Canyon Road.

Easy. Easy. Easy.

So the first thing we encountered was a large road closed sign. People were turning around BUT DRIVE AROUND it. The road leading to the trail head is sandy but if you have a 4 wheel drive SUV you can make it. A two wheel drive car - you will make it most of the way then have to walk about 15-30 min depending how far you get.

Once you make the trail, stay to the right for the ladders and left for the ropes (it’s not marked).

Depending how you get down, you might have to descend a rope which is challenging. My wife who is in pretty good shape had a freak out. But overall it’s not too bad.

I have done this hike multiple times and highly recommend.

9 days ago

This is a very enjoyable trail and easy to trek. But there is not enough directions on where it starts and ends. You just have to guess at what you’re doing.

5/5 stars, great views of the park, some cool boulders and the oasis at the end was cherry on top! Definitely worth the trek. We had to start from the campgrounds and do the loop behind the Cottonwood Springs campground due to the road being washed out. Added an extra 2 or 2.5 miles, making the hike about 4 hours total.

Fantastic ✨

Did this hike two days ago. Cottonwood Trail, the main trail to Lost Palms, and the road to it, are closed due to being washed out from floods. If you want to hike to Lost Palms you can park at Campground A-B and take the trail toward Mastodon Peak. Once you pass the gold mine and Mastodon Peak go down the hill to Lost Palms Oasis Trail and take a left. Then it’s the Trail as normal to List Palms. This way adds about 1.5-2 miles to the normal hike. Great views as always.

Great option for the hiker wanting a slight challenge with rewarding view! Loved learning from the nature trail markers along the way.

hiking
11 days ago

@BRUPac ;) I understand the road in is washed out from both ends, but which end did you start from with your 4x4? I have a tacoma 4x4 and wanted to attempt to reach the trailhead this weekend.

Well kept trail. Good views of rugged desert terrain. Oasis is cool break. Palms are great.

went there yesterday 11/3/18. Left a review on the ladder canyon road review section. highly recommend 4x4, but will be honest, a Volvo awd SUV made it all of the way and a 2018 Toyota Camry made it over half way, before the real soft sand. I'm adding a few pictures of the road to judge for your self. go in groups or have recovery gear to get yourself out.

http://rctlma.org/trans/Road-Maintenance/Road-Closures

I’m going to head down there tonight. Website says it’s still closed. Hopefully not.

Update.
Road is definitely closed. No problem getting to the trail tho. Lifted 4x4 recommended only. 2 spots that would be tough to get around. Plus the ground is pretty loose.
Jeep Wrangler for reference. Saw some Tacoma’s also back in there amongst other wranglers

Can anyone say if the trail is back open..Thank you

Can not leave comment without rating. Can anyone verify the route to the trail is again open?

Amazing. So beautiful. Easy and breathtaking. I’d do over and over again

We did this trail as a night hike and it was pretty awesome. May want to bring gloves as there is a ton of bouldering to be had.

Tried to get to this hike this morning via the road from Mecca. The road is still closed at the Coachella Canal Road on 66 Ave/Box Canyon Road. ...I was not sure how to leave a comment without giving a star rating, so gave a 1 star but that is not a rating on the hike itself?

Box Canyon Road is closed. 10/7/18. There’s no way to get to trail. We went for a different hike in the area. My co-worker said a man went missing on the Ladders hike after the rain storms last week. Not sure when they will be opening the road.

Heads up! Box Canyon Road is blocked off due to being washed out.

hiking
1 month ago

First time visit to Ladder Canyon/Painted Canyon. My wife and I were there on 9/29/18 and arrived about 09:30am. Hike was excellent! Good little work out and the ladders were a fun new twist. Trail was very easy to follow, just follow the arrows. Even though it’s becoming cooler, it was still a hot hike. About half way through you hike up and out of the canyon for a nice view of the area and small view of the Salton Sea. You will be exposed with no shade for about 1.5 miles so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. I ended up sharing my water with some young hikers that didn’t bring enough and were hurting for it. Walk back is in the canyon and had intermittent shade. Overall fun experience and great little workout.

hiking
2 months ago

Really fun hike and hot! Went on Saturday and temps reached 104° I froze my water bottles the night before and had cold water the entire hike as the ice was melting. theres an arrow at the beginning of the trail that veers you left. avoid that trail unless you want to climb ropes so I headed back and started over this time going straight until I saw the second arrow pointing sharp left that's where the ladders are at after you climb some boulders. Thank you Jennifer Murphy your review was really helpful. I ignored the white arrow with the (?)
and ignored the ladder to my right. went straight ahead and stayed on track.

Definitely a walk, not a hike. It’s very cool to see cactus all around, and we didn’t have a big problem with bees (which can be plentiful). The container for nature guide books was full of trash though — seems like it hadn’t been seen to by the time we got there (9am). Worth a stop if you are driving to or from Cottonwood!

hiking
2 months ago

Overall this was a beautiful hike, and extra fun with the ladder element. Amazing views of the mountains, sky, and you can also see the Salton Sea. We started around 9 am which was later than planned, but made it out around 12:15 so wasn’t too bad. I would definitely recommend a hat and long sleeves for when you’re exposed on the upper ridge in the summer. On the first half mile and intermittently throughout the last two miles there is shade. There are white painted arrows on the canyon walls and rock-shaped arrows on the ground to help guide you. There’s one difficult part where you see “Up (?)” in white paint. We took the path first, but it looked like we were off of the trail so we walked back and went up the ladder disregarding the question mark. The gravel was quite loose, but we made it to the top. However, then it said we were on the ridge and also not on the trail. Once we were up there was no going back down that way. We took a left based on the map’s guidance and eventually it converged back into the correct trail so we were fine, just in the open sun much longer. Bring plenty of water!

hiking
2 months ago

Could not hike entire trail due to a closure, so hiked a loop (made via another trail) back to parking lot. Fantastic hike, beautiful vegetation.

lovely go in December

lovely trail we did it in December

Better for trail running than hiking. I took my young two daughters so it was a good challenge for us. No shade until the oasis.

Load More