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

Amazing hike! The 5 mile dirt road to get here isn’t too bad. Was pretty easy in our Ford Focus. The hike itself is great, but can be difficult to follow at times due to the lack of signs. Keep an eye out for the rock arrows showing the path. We missed the Ladder Canyon portion on the way up, but took it down on the way back.

The great thing about this hike is the diverse scenery. We spent time in a deep and wide canyon, then came out on a ridge line overlooking the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea, then went through the narrow slot canyon with the ladders. It kept the hike fresh and exciting.

We did this Yesterday. Be sure to check your map and plan. We were almost all the way back down and there was a group up on the top asking how to get down. They were way out on a “finger” high above us!

Great hike! Lots of cool rocks for kids to climb on and under.

This was a great little hike. More toward moderate at there where a lot of stairs but not to bad. The south part of the loop is a bit more strenuous then the north part of the loop. But manageable. The falls were beautiful. We arrived at 9am and there were only a few people. However one the way out, approximately 10am it was heavily trafficked. Definitely get there early.

This is a very solid yet confusing hike, and 5 miles to boot - my Track of March 2018. This takes in the best of the "boggy" desert area, higher desert with views, and little repetition. Canyon trail is a good addition to make it longer, but much of there lower Canyon trail is not worth any extra trekking.

5 days ago

Awesome hike! 5.0 miles and change. Somehow I lost the recording but nevertheless completed the loop with my dog.

Not recommended if your dog cant climb ladders or is afraid of going down. I have scratches to prove my point but worth it.

Follow the trail clockwise for the normal route. We did counter clockwise and ended in the sark narrow canyons with high ladders. Totally worth it. Like a grand finale!

A hidden gem for socal non-forest/non-preserve or NP hikes

6 days ago

Parked in the day use lot and walked out from there (dashed line on map). Absolutely don't miss out on climbing to the caldera assuming you have sturdy shoes. And yes, take plenty of water. We drank 20 oz each. Sign suggests 3 hr. I suppose if you didn't linger you could do it in less, but the caldera is super cool. We also took many wildflower pix. Desert blooms are small, but impressive.

8 days ago

When we went we had it to ourselves. We walked passed the trail the first time. When you get to the end of the road, you're going to go left. Follow the volcanic rocks on the ground. Then to your right you will see a trail up a slight incline. Pass the first hole to reach the staircase. I would recommend bringing a flashlight as our phones weren't strong enough for the darkness. Also watch the ceiling! I scraped my back pretty hard down there.

Amazing!!! So worth it!!

Excellent hike today

Really great hike. Mostly dog friendly. Depending on what trail you take you will have to climb ladders. We were took Painted Canyon because it was tagged dog-friendly but the turn off of the main trail started with what looked like 15-20 ft ladder. We continues along Ladder Canyon (counter-clockwise). We climbed down the big ladders towards the end (beginning) of Ladder Canyon and it wasn’t THAT bad, I have a small pug and I climb ladders at work.

If the dog wasn’t with us it would be a GREAT day in Mecca Hills. Gorgeous scenery. Not too strenuous.

10 days ago

Great trail, definitely take the route up the hill with the rope climbing, well worth it and fun. Then descend using the ladders.
Narrow canyon walkways and rope climbs allow for Great pictures.

Worth the effort. From the paved road go past the dirt road shown to the next bigger dirt road wider and better condition

I personally would not consider this a 'moderate' trail...it was relatively easy (my 2 year old daughter did this trail without any issues, along with her 5 older brothers - ranging from 12 down to 4. A friend of mine also brought her daughter who was 3 and had no issues). This was beautiful. Fun! Lots to do, especially for the kids. The switch backs were entertaining...nothing huge but the mere fact at how short they were was pretty funny especially since my wife had never done a series of switch backs yet.

Overall - super cool trail. Saw a few animals, mainly wild cow.

15 days ago

Awesome trail to go exploring! I had a blast hiking through the narrow slot canyon, climbing the many ladders, and experiencing the gorgeous mountain views above the canyon. There are several trails that break off of this one, so be mindful to follow the correct trail, usually marked by rocks arranged into arrows on the ground.

Best trail. In mecca

most popular hike in Palm Springs. slightly touristic. bring money for admission ($12.50). very beautiful. easy. fine valley views. must read canyon history in old newspapers at visitor center.

23 days ago

Worth the off road trek

Trail has, wait for it - ladders! In order to climb up and down several very difficult sections there are ladders. The trail is marked by placement of stones in arrows leading you the right direction.

The crevasse section is awesome as you walk through narrow passageways with side walls reaching easily 100’ up! The soil is often very mushy and sandy like you’re at a beach - good overall workout for the lower body.

Worth the time to get there, just hold onto your kidneys on the 5 mile dirt access road to the trail head!

Great hike. Super different from other ones. A few things worth noting:
1- the drive in is 5 miles on a dirt road. I did it in a convertible and it was a poor choice (I was not going to be deterred though). If you can, take a four wheel vehicle.
2- there's really no signage on the trail. To start, go past the sign with the map. Your first choice will be to go on a trail to the left or whether to stay straight. The left one apparently is ropes and the one straight has ladders. They both lead to the same place at the top/ summit.
3- pay attention to the rock arrows-- they are literally arrows shaped out of rocks.

Super unique and great experience. Worth it.

27 days ago

Started the hike around 9:30 AM on Sunday of Presidents day weekend. We did the loop counter clock wise so the first part wasn't too crowded. Once we got to the narrow ladder canyon it got very busy and crowded. Took us about 2.5 hours to do the loop. It is a really fun hike, not too hard and you get to see so many different things.
Bring plenty of water. Be aware that there are no toilets at the parking lots and it is a 5 mile drive on a dirt road to get to the beginning of the trail.

28 days ago

A must hike for anyone in the area! (also worth the drive for anyone willing to make the drive!)

28 days ago

Interesting site along Route 66. Great views of the surrounding lava fields and a great level and paved overflow spot to park the RV and watch the stars at night.

When we went there were hurricane force winds (ok, maybe a slight exaggeration) and making it to the rim was scary. We only walked about half the way around the rim before the wind forced a us down back the Co e area. #LiveLoveWanderTribe

I enjoyed the hike, for my boys they enjoyed the cave and going up the rocks being a boy. Beautiful day a little windy.

29 days ago

Fun hike through some amazing canyons! We got there later than we wanted for a Sunday but luckily the crowds were not there yet. We started the hike around 9 am and were done a bit before noon (I am a slow hiker due to weight and a back injury!) When the trail forks we followed the arrow that pointed to the left- directly to the ladders. There were some tight spots and of course the ladders making it an exciting and fun hike in the beginning. Once you get up the ladders and through the canyons the trail gains elevation and brings you up to a few great ‘overlooks’ with some amazing views. Eventually you are hiking on the ridge line for a short time and it was hot in sun even at 10am. The trail heads toward the cell towers but turns right, bringing you back into the canyon if you do the loop. From there you will hike in the canyon surrounded by the beautiful canyon walls, rocks, shrubs and debris from prior flooding from heavy rain. Bring plenty of water (I drank 1 liter and hubby drank a 20 oz bottle) and for the love of god pick up after yourselves. I saw numerous wipes and tissues that people had dropped along the way. Had I brought gloves and a bag I would have picked them up myself!

This hike was incredible. The views are awesome. Easy hike but you can get your heart rate up on the switchbacks.

29 days ago

Great trail! Easy with climbing ladders and some incline areas. Lots of people on the trail but could be because it was a holiday weekend. Would definitely go back.

30 days ago

Fun hike with the ladders and the canyon views were beautiful. The only downside is there were a lot of people there but it was a holiday weekend.

very kool little hike. look for the rock arrow in the canyon for the ladders. 1st left in the canyon takes you under some low rocks and very narrow areas to rope climbs. You will be taking off your pack here!! little car campings not a bad idea. get in early and watch sunrise. I'm sure its gorgeous.

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