Hike the Ladder Canyon/Painted Canyon Loop

Painted Canyon Trailhead, Mecca, California, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2215 Feet

Easy Parking

Soft pastels cover the earth's surface where rock outcroppings and mudstone have been displaced hundreds of years ago by the San Andreas Fault. Pink, red, gray, brown and green colors wash the hills and canyon walls, creating a spectacular sight. This colorful canvas is Painted Canyon, a high-walled, narrow gorge tucked within the 41,300 acres of the Mecca Hills Recreation Area of California.

From Interstate 10, take State Highway 195 (Box Canyon Road) to Painted Canyon Road. This well-maintained, dirt road goes for about 4 miles and leads into the sandy wash which runs the length of the canyon for approximately 1.7 miles. There are a few narrow side canyons which can be explored on foot. Motor vehicles are not allowed past the wilderness boundary markers. Do not go if it is raining as it could cause flash floods in the area. Once on the trail you can turn around at any time. It is a unique, hidden trail that really shuts out its surrounding, engulfing you into nature.

If you are interested there are a number of Geocaches along the Ladder Canyon Hike. Visit the geochaching.com site for more details.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hat or Sunglasses
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

These two canyons make for a fun hike. The ladders looked pretty safe when I went. I would recommend a hydration pack or small pack to carry water bottles as you will need both hands to climb. I posted a story with video - https://www.theoutbound.com/scott-sichler/ladder-and-painted-canyons

3 months ago
3 months ago

Kirby Roberts

I am from Massachusetts and I spend my time exploring or planning my next adventure over coffee. Travel more and travel often; It will lead to an exponentially happier life.

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