Nightmare Gulch Loop Trail

MODERATE 14 reviews

Nightmare Gulch Loop Trail is a 8.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Ricardo, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
8.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1230 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

walking

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

Nightmare Gulch is a colorful and highly scenic canyon and is a must see cross-country route in Red Rock State Park. Nightmare Gulch in Rock Canyon State Park attracts many raptors. In order to protect the raptor nesting sites, the gulch is closed to hikers and vehicle travel yearly from February 1 to July 1. The cross-country route starts just a half mile north of the entrance to the park at a small turn out on the east side of the highway. The route travels north then east around ridge tops offering panoramic views of the gulch and the Southern Sierra Nevada, then descends and turns south to the entrance of Nightmare Gulch. The gulch is filled with side slot canyons just waiting to explore. After exiting the gulch turn north to head back to the trail head. BEST TIME TO HIKE September - January 31 (can be very hot during the middle of summer) the area is closed February 1-July 1

hiking
14 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

Trail was not marked. Not a problem except for the crossing and parallel trails. Ended up off course when the phone kept losing service and putting us farther off course. Standing water in Black Rock Canyon drew dozens of bees in and they won.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this hike today the whole loop. Lucky to hike it a week after a big rain as the trail in the canyon was firm to walk on and not soft sand as other people mentioned. We hiked counter clock wise. We went up through the canyon first and that was my favorite part of the hike. The second half on top of the ridge was picturesque but hotter and the trail was very hard to follow. Thank goodness I downloaded the map on the app and had a back up battery for my phone because I needed directions on the ridge park of the trail. We went back and forth between the jeep trail and the ridge trail. All in all I enjoyed the hike. I wish the trail on the ridge was better marked.

hiking
5 months ago

Loved, loved this hike. The first 3 1/2 miles or so are rather boring and made me wonder if we were on the correct trail. We were. Once you get to the the beautiful sandstone rock formations with all the slot canyons you are in awe of it all. Make sure you pay attention to the dates and is closed 6 months of the year and is too hot for summer hiking.

5 months ago

Love this place. Remote area, no traffic, easy to hike. Recommend

hiking
6 months ago

Pretty nice and easy hike for the dog, he enjoyed jumping back and forth on rocks and the sand. Walking on sand is pretty boring and can be unpleasant - unfortunately a good chunk of this hike is on loose dirt.

hiking
7 months ago

I did this hike counter clock wise , first went along the scenic canyon. At the beginning, there were nice rock formations, but later on, in my opinion - this walk along the canyon was monotonous and boring. Also , walking (or struggling to walk) on the sand is hard and the advancement is slow. The 2nd half of the trail, goes on a ridge - which, in my opinion, is much nicer. The views are good and in the end you reach a dry waterfall. The trail goes next to jeep roads , sometimes you use the jeep road to switch between ridges - but don't walk them for long. If you find yourself walking on jeep roads too long , then you made a mistake - look at the app and correct yourself back to the trail plan. The hike took me , in total about 4.5 hours , but I spent an additional hour on the last highest place on the ridge , to watch the sunset. All and all - it's an OK hike.

hiking
10 months ago

Only hiked part of this trail since the canyon was closed for the raptors. Interesting desert hike but trail is not well marked. Definitely bring lots of water.

hiking
Monday, December 19, 2016

A 5 hour hike with beautiful rock formations in parts of the trail. Perfect for winter but would be way too hot other times of the year. A bit of easy rock climbing along the way. Some of the hiking is through soft sand. One long uphill climb. Trail is not clearly marked so come with a printed map since there is no cell service and your phone might not hold the charge for the whole route. We saw very few other people along the way so if you don't like crowds this is the trail for you!
Bring plenty of water and enjoy the scenery.

Monday, December 19, 2016

approximately 4 to 5 hours hike. first half in the Canyon is beautiful. The second half is less to see.

hiking
23 days ago

hiking
4 months ago

hiking
Sunday, April 09, 2017