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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.

hiking
3 days ago

It is one of the best trails out here in the valley

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
13 days 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
29 days 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.

Basically a fire road. Really easy drive to hiking area. Was washed out pretty good when we went 9/27/17. But took it in 2 wheel drive the whole way. Plenty of cars made it through, even an E Class Mercedes sedan. Cars and lower trucks just be careful to drive around the bigger rocks. On the way out saw a large flat rock with a scrape across the top and transmission fluid dripping off of it, again was washed out from rain 2 days prior. Most if the time the road looks like it is graded and pretty smooth.

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
1 month ago

For an easy hike this was definitely worth my time.

Loved this hike, bring lots of water.

hiking
2 months ago

Solid hike- 105F+ in the summer months, although throughout the canyons there’s plenty of shade. Lots of wildlife there too, observe the hills around you as you pass through the canyons. Views are stunning from above. A must!

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.

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
3 months 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
3 months 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

4 months ago

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

hiking
4 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!

hiking
5 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
5 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
5 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
6 months ago

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

hiking
6 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
6 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.

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