Bringing New Eyes to Painted Canyon

It feels great to get back out hiking again.  This last year has been full of surprises for me. I got a divorce, but in turn met the man of my dreams.  We bought a house together in a whole new city and combined our families.  We finally got settled into our new home after revamping it all ourselves.  It has also been a very unusual wet winter for So Cal this year. We have gotten storm after storm and they have always seemed to land on the weekends which getting out of the house has been somewhat difficult. So when we finally got a break in the weather and in our busy life we jumped on the chance to take a hike to one of our favorite spots, Painted Canyon.

We always love getting out but we also love taking people with us to our favorite spots.  This time we took my niece and her friend as well as one of my boyfriend’s friend and his daughter.  We started the morning with a house full of kids and all the chaos that goes along with it. When Jay and his daughter arrived at our new house everyone was just about ready to go.  We made our way through the desert getting to Painted Canyon Road much faster than we have before, our new house makes our favorite spot that much closer.

The girls started the pack towards the canyon towards the ropes.  The start of the Rope Canyon can easily be missed if you are not looking for it.  It starts feet from the parking lot on the left side.  There were new arrows made of stone directing you towards the rope canyon but just before you enter to the point of no return there is another arrow that leads you out of the rope canyon and back into the main wash.  We remained on the trail and it wasn’t too long before we met up with a couple hikers who were not prepared to do the ropes and had turned around.  It’s always funny to see faces of other hikers when they realize our young hikers are doing the rope canyon when they can’t seem to do it themselves.

When we hit our first obstacle where we had to either climb under or climb over a fallen rock.  My boyfriends daughters were used to this and dove head first into the dirt getting to the next side before the other girls even knew what was going on, but the new kids didn’t make a fuss and dove in right behind them.

We made our way down the trail with the kids leading way ahead of the adults.  We heard the squall of excitement and knew the girls found the first rope.  The narrow trail opens up to a round room with the trail continuing onto a second level and the only way to continue is to climb your first rope.  It has been less than a year since we have been here and there has been a wave a graffiti that has appeared.  I really don’t understand it.  I don’t understand the need to make something so beautiful so ugly with crud words or pictures.  Maybe I’m old or out of touch with society but I just don’t understand the need for this.  Sorry, rant over with…

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Everyone made it up the first ropes without the harness.  The kids powered through the canyon and up the ropes with great ease.  They loved the challenge and would get mad if we tried to help.  We finally got to the last rope and it was the tallest one.  Both the younger ones went up with the harness, not because they couldn’t make it but because as adults you image everything that could possible go wrong, so they got harnesses lol.

The next part of the trail is the worst part as a kid.  The canyon opens wider and you lose the shade.  The sun in the desert even when it is cool gets to you.  But the only way to get to the to the Ladder Canyon is to either come in from the top or go back the way you came and go into it from the bottom. We stopped several times to drink water and to get sand out of shoes.  The kids were losing interest and they were getting tired and whiny.  That’s when you know you are almost to the top.  We found a shortcut that would be a shorter up but it was straight uphill.

We made it out of the canyon and we were on our way back down now to the ladders. The lights in the kids eyes were back again when we hit the first ladder.  As we made our way down, the canyon became tight and tall again giving us shade and cooler temperatures.  Being that the Ladder Canyon is the most popular trail there were a good steady flow of people coming up as we were going down.  But we only had to wait a few times at the Ladders which wasn’t too bad.

After walking through the slots and hitting what I think is the most beautiful spot of the hike we reached our last Ladder that took us to the main wash.  The kids climbed on some of the larger rocks and tried to throw rocks on the ledges as we left, which seems to be the challenge for all.  We finally made it to the completely full parking lot which was was a pleasant surprised seeing all the people that are enjoying this amazing spot.

The kids had a blast but I think they were all happy to be back in the car and off their feet.

If you plan on trying out the rope trail with children or inexperienced hikers I would definitely suggest some sort of safety with your own ropes and/or harnesses.  But it can be done with all ages just expect to get dirty and to have fun!

Happy Hiking.

Hiking Stats

County:                 Riverside County
Miles:                     5.4 miles round trip
Permit:                  No permit needed
Trail:                      via Painted Canyon Road

Strava Map

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