Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ladder Canyon, Mecca Hills


Ladder Canyon is a hike that everyone who lives in the Coachella Valley has to do at least once. It is in the Mecca Hills Wilderness area and is doable by anyone who can walk and climb up and down a ladder, or seven. Getting there is as easy as taking 1-10 East to the Hwy 86 Expressway, South. Turn left on Avenue 66 and follow it just over six miles to Painted Canyon Road.

This is the intersection for Painted Canyon Road. The sign might say 4WD only but I've taken my wife's minivan on it. Use caution after a storm because it may wash out but most of the time, it's OK.

Follow the road about five miles to a parking area at the end. As the canyon narrows, you can really see why they call this Painted Canyon.

Park your vehicle and head up the canyon to the north of the parking area. When the canyon takes a hard 90º right turn, Ladder Canyon will be on your left.

Someone put this in the wash so you won't miss it. Just don't count on it being there after the next rain.

It's not long before I hit the first ladder, this one going down. And yes, I am wearing sandals.

Shortly after the first ladder, you come upon the ladder #2. It is the tallest ladder but is very sturdy so no worries. Just don't try to climb the wooden one.

The canyon gets very narrow at this point. Even though the temperature is over 85º, it is very comfortable in the canyon. I came in the afternoon after 4pm and my hike is in the shade probably 90 percent of the time.

Ladder #3

There are many flowers in bloom: Arizona Lupine, Desert Tobacco, Heart leafed primrose, Desert Rock Pea. Ghost Flowers, Desert Mallow, Notch-leafed Phacelia, Indigo Bush and this Beavertail Cactus.

Ladder #4.

Ladder #5. I hate this ladder. It doesn't seem that stable to me but it's been here for years and I've never had a problem with it but I still don't like it.

You climb out of the canyon and follow a trail before you drop down into Painted Canyon.

A couple of hikers on the ridge above Painted Canyon.

Ladder #6. Going down?

After ladder #6, you have just one more to go and it's pictured here with ladder #6. Just about a quarter of a mile to go the complete the loop and then a short hike back to your vehicle. This area is rife with canyons to explore.

I've always wondered what's up this little side canyon. I guess I'll just have to come back and find out, won't I?


Anonymous said...

The canyon that leads to the ladders is more east-ish from the parking area, then bends to the northeast.

The canyon that is more north-ish from the parking area is good hiking too, but won't lead you to the ladders.

Hal Summers said...

Looking at the map, the canyon that leads to the ladders (Painted Canyon) is, while not due North, is about 10º E of true North while the other canyon goes off in a more Northwest direction.

Once up the canyon, it's pretty easy to find the ladders right now with the HUGE arrow someone put in the wash. There's also a sign although it is somewhat faded now.