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

High Desert Map

Did it with Fam in July and was awesome....cant wait to do again in better conditions....bring picnic stuff...you will want to sit awhile and enjoy the prize

Such a unique place. Challenging but fun hike, we went late morning. It was about 101 when we set out and before we hit the half way point we turned around because of the temps. Back at the car it was 107 and even though we had plenty of water, there were parts of the trail without any shade and we were starting to overheat. Aside from that we really enjoyed this spot and will make a return trip very soon and head out early for sunrise. The mountains and rock formations are amazing here and you’ll have plenty of photo ops in the canyons. Pack out what you pack in... dirt road is a bear coming down Painted Canyon Rd. Be ready for some major vibrations for about 5 miles of unpaved road. Best done in a truck, your pretty luxury car will cry coming here.

18 days ago

*very short hike
*hiked in .3 miles and out .3 miles
*rocky and sandy hike (basalt rocks everywhere)
*climbed up & down the tunnel
*saw the scenic cinder cones

Was a great hike yesterday here. Definitely a hidden treasure to admire close to the Imperial Valley. Take plenty of water, gloves, hiking light shoes with good traction, sun block, snacks and a beer or two to enjoy up on the canyon. I guess i learned yesterday that the north trail is called The Ropes, and the east trail is ladder Canyon trail. I recommend to go east trail and follow rock arrow into hidden canyon. You can go the other way also, half way there is a hill that will be safer to go down than up for some. I'm going back for sure; Enjoy and stay safe!!

This is a great hike, but as others have said, it isn't marked at all. We relied on information from other hikers and Alltrails to figure out where to go. The ladder and ropes are fun and the hike is mostly pretty. The upper loop to the top of the big canyon is completely exposed. We got an incredibly late start, so this part baked me, but the canyon was worth it. As a bonus, we saw a little gray fox. The road in was rough, but ok for a regular car.

Definitely coming back to this hike, lots of trails to explore.

I would recommend coming early to avoid high temperatures (it reached 112 when we went last week) and bring plenty of water.

Been there twice. If you take the Mission Creek Preserve entrance, you'll connect with the southern PCT trail intersection. Take the south fork and climb up the trail to a ridge on the trail that gives a view of Whitewater Canyon and the trail down the mountain towards the Whitewater River. The hike is close to 1000 ft elevation change. The view is spectacular. Take plenty of water as this is close to 8 miles from Mission Creek Preserve Road entrance. There is the stone house with picnic tables and even. Separate bathrooms. Along the way you'll see a massive growth of wild grapes in and around tall trees. Great views there as well. The rock formations are fascinating for the geologically inclined. Saw some rabbits, and heard lots of birds, but didn't see any other wild life (thank goodness no snakes!)

The trail was well marked and easy to follow. We started up the canyon and it is very shady (for a desert) with a gentle slope. It ends up with a nice mix of valley and then ridge (with views). Nothing much on this is "hard" (except it is hot, sunny, and dry). It was about 10 degrees cooler than in Palm Springs and with a nice breeze.

2 months ago

Great way to spend a day in family. Drove from San Diego to do this hike and really enjoyed it.

great short 2 mile loop. get there early to have some shaded trail and avoid crowds. Opens at 7:30 year round. summer admission only $5 adults and $3 youth. Beautiful scenery going into the canyon oasis. Ranger said that the falls will probably be pretty much dried up in the next few weeks. Very refreshing to take a dip after the hike in. Be sure to take time in the nature center as there is a lot of historical information.

My husband and I are visiting from Oklahoma and loved hiking this trail! The waterfall was beautiful and so fun to wade in! Highly recommend this trail!

as a beginner, this trail kicked my butt but in a good way. take snacks and water, I wore hiking boots but tennis shoes ok too. the waterfall is stunning, refreshing and a treat.
there is some rock steps incline, so be prepared, but I saw kids, elderly folks doing fine. it does cost 12$ entry, but worth it!

Really amazing. But the road to get there was rough and there are no signs to help find it or cell phone service, so no gps.

Love this app

2 months ago

Beautiful hike! Can’t wait to bring my kids on this one!

2 months ago

Loved this hike! I did it twice it was so much fun and full of little trails to explore. A must do when you visit the area!

Very cool to hike inside and around the rim of a cinder cone. Easy hike, can get hot, make sure to take plenty of water.

3 months ago

Great hike took my 3 boys 7yr old 10yr old and 11 yr old and they all loved it we went at about 6pm when it was not as hot and it was great

3 months ago

Amazing area! My only complaint: this is the most poorly marked trail that I have ever been on. Do your research so you know where to go. There are several trails at the top and a lot of them are dead ends. Otherwise, great day of hiking and exploring with my husband and 7 year old. Bring more water than you think you need!!!

Loved this hike. It is an easy to moderate hike. The desert foliage and beautiful waterfall at the end - make it worth the admission price.

Staff wasn’t very friendly at visitors center seemed annoyed I was trying to ask what snake I saw on the trail when I showed them picture. I plan to return but stay clear of staff only interested in collecting money vs friendly customer service.

3 months ago

This hike is so cool but only take it during the cooler seasons. The temperature gets really hot.

Lots of stairs, not great for strollers! Otherwise, beautiful hike and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the waterfall at the end. Took about an hour out and back, but depends on how long you hang out. Bring water, sunscreen, and good shoes.

Beautiful hike, but very steep! Once you get to the canyon its not so bad.

In answer to Charlie Nunez’s question: yes you can get to the trailhead in a regular car. It is a bumpy five miles and you could drive faster in a truck or 4x4, but my Honda sedan made it and there were several similar cars on the road or in the lot, including a Mini. Take it slow and it is fine.

4 months ago

I have a question for anyone who has been here. Can I make it down the dirt road to the trailhead in a car? I've camped in Mecca before in the slots but parked close to the road behind a bush. Just curious if I could make it to the trailhead in a normal car.

Hit the trail today with some friends. Really good time, beautiful colors.

Really great place to be,

4 months ago

Very fun trail up a slot canyon, lots of ladders or optional scrambling.

4 months ago

Great hike! Part slot canyon, part wide canyon, part open hike with views of the Salton Sea. Felt like I was in Zion. Here's an easy way NOT to get lost... prior to arriving (because you may not get service there) go to google maps and you'll be able to see the actual route. You may even want to download the area to your "offline maps". Follow the trail via google maps on your hike. I didn't lose GPS at all during the hike and you can tell if you missed a turn within about 30 feet.

Load More