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Thanks to the restless San Andreas Fault, the geologic formations of Mecca Hills Wilderness are among the most unusual sites of their kind in the world. Entire regions are exposed layers of eroded rock, some over 600 million years old, and are a source of valuable information to scientists about the effects of tremors on the earth's crust. The area is a badlands labyrinth, a natural maze of small, narrow, steep canyons. Colorful Painted Canyon runs in a general north-south path through the middle of the Wilderness. Sandy washes sprinkled with ironwood, smoke trees, and paloverde divide the area, while ocotillo squat on gentler slopes and the tops of mesas. Bighorn sheep occasionally cross over from the Orocopia Mountains on the east, where they find more water. You may see spotted bats, desert tortoises, and prairie falcons. The non-Wilderness corridor of Box Canyon Road splits off a small southern section of the area in which you'll find Sheep Hole Oasis and Hidden Springs Canyon (reliable sources for water). If you look closely, you'll discover caves, known locally as grottoes.

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.

hiking
13 days ago

The Grottos can easily be gone through without a rope or climbing gear. You will need a light unless you are up for groping your way through in the dark. If you don't see an opening look to the left or right side, there is a rope in one place if I remember right. One passage is very narrow and a bit of a scramble but not difficult.

hiking
22 days ago

6/27 95+ degrees. Started at 12pm. 3kids/3adults.
Super hot but cool in the shade and inside the canyon. Came to the crawl or climb area into the climb up a rope section. Climbed all and out into the open canyon. Too hot to explore further, not enough water, climbed back down and made it back into 110degree heat. Washroad is a long if u go slow, but patience is better than a broken car part. Bring lots of water and muscles. My 5, 9, 11yr old made it

Love this app

1 month ago

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

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!

hiking
2 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

hiking
2 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!!!

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.

hiking
3 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.

Not a very well traveled hike so not to many foot prints to follow. Easy to veer off in the wrong direction as it is not marked as well as the ladder hike. Only hiked in 1.8 miles. As the canyon narrowed it looked like there was an impassable rock slide so I turned back. Could be that I was in the wrong canyon!!! Beautiful majestic canyon walls against the blue sky but probably won’t do it again.

hiking
3 months ago

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

hiking
3 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.

Super awesome trail! Make sure you follow the arrows. About 1/4 mile from the start is the first arrow pointing you up to the left up some rocks. Take this instead of going straight!

hiking
3 months ago

Definitely a great one for a couple hour hike with amazing crayons and rock formations from water and wind erosion. On a side note TKB deli in Indio is the perfect spot to grab a bite after the hike.

hiking
3 months ago

This was a really fun trail, although it is a bit easy to get lost at times. It lost a star because some of the ladders were missing towards the end of the loop, so we had to turn back around instead of finishing the hike.

Absolutely amazing canyons.

Amazing trail!

hiking
3 months ago

This trail is a hiker’s playground. I loved it!

I absolutely loved this hike. I found the entrance impossible to find. the entrance to rope canyon is about 100 ft from the parking lot on the left behind the group of trees. you follow the wash and then you have to scramble down into a tiny slot canyon. keep going up and under and around until you see the first rope. when you are done with the last rope. It is the longest one. you can turn around or keep going through the was to the top. We were confused as to what way to go in the wash. we just kept to the main wash and it ended and the trail went up loose rocks to the right and put you out on top. then we followed the trail that took you to the main Ladder trail to the radio towers. This hike was so much fun! Check the weather it can be very hot in the desert. These slots are very small compared to the Ladder slots. we had small packs on and had to take them off to fit through some areas.

hiking
3 months ago

This probably my favorite desert hike. We visited early February 2018. We had done the Ladders Canyon and Painted Canyon loop last year. This year we went up Ropes and back down Ladders Canyon. Shorter loop but more challenging. 4 of our group averaged 66 years old. We also had one teenager who kept telling us we could not make it.

www.mrturbodoc.com for more info and photographs and descriptions.

3 months ago

Even with the gps we got "lost"at times. Ended up walking way longer than we planned. It turns out there are ladders that are off the main path. So, when we saw a ladder and went up it we assumed it had to be "the trail", but it was actually a side canyon that we explored for a bit until we saw how far off course we were and turned back. We definitely want to come back here and explore more! The scenery is so unique and beautiful! And the views from out of the canyon of the lake are amazing! Our three young kids loved it too, although the 2yr old mostly road in the carrier.

This is a very worthwhile hike. This is the best hike in the Palm Springs area. The split rock canyons are a must see. The ladders offer access for hikers of all levels.

Amazing! There are ropes (difficult for me...but I did it!!!) and ladders (much easier!) that you can take. This was a spectacular hike an overall great experience and I would do it again!! Scenery was like no other I had seen! Thank you Portland dentists group!!!

Amazing and beautiful! The drive in on the dirt road is bumpy but bearable in a sedan. The drive in the hills toward the trailhead is so pretty! The first few hundred feet on the trail is awesome, but looking up you'll miss some of the rock arrows on the ground. There is a giant arrow that points left to a pile of boulders. Without investigating, we assumed it was wrong because we didn't see a path, so we stayed to the right and took the trail counterclockwise. Going clockwise, you'd need to scramble some rocks and climb some ladders off the bat. In hindsight, this is probably the easier way to go because you go up the ladders instead of down, and it seems less likely you'll get lost. Alas, we went right, which I think ended up being the prettier route but we would have gotten lost multiple times if Google Maps hadn't been working on our phones. If you go this way, know that anytime you see a row of rocks clearly man made, it means don't cross that line or you'll go off trail. At the top of the loop, keep an eye for a long row of rocks across the wash. Here, look left and you'll see the trail goes up the hill. Coming back down the loop back towards the trailhead there are a couple of forks where you basically have to guess where to go if you don't have GPS. Our maps were useless because they didn't show these forks. Either way, this hike is AMAZING and is a must see for any able bodied person in the area!

It was a fun and relaxing hike. Thank God for the arrows haha

hiking
4 months ago

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.

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