Hidden Valley – Moab

Moab, UT

Hiking the Hidden Valley Trail has been on our must-do list of hikes for this year’s visit to Moab.  So when blogging friends Amanda and Tim (Watsons Wander) recently posted about their experience on this trail, we knew we had to do it.

The Hidden Valley Trailhead is located four miles south of Center Street in Moab west of Rte. 191.  Turn right on to West Angel Rock Road for about a half mile and then turn right at the “T” and follow the road into the parking area for the trail.  The trailhead is clearly marked at the south end of the lot.

The trailhead with the La Sal Mountains to the east

The first hundred yards of the trail winds through a rocky area.

Then it goes steeply uphill through a series of switchbacks called Barney’s Rubble for a half mile.

Once up Barney’s Rubble the trail goes through Hidden Valley on a flat, straight, hard-packed sand trail for a mile and a half.

At the other side of the valley the trail makes a short climb to a pass, with the trail splitting on top of the pass.  We turned right at the split.  The trail splits again in a couple hundred feet. We turned left along a wide ledge at the base of a high rock wall.  The rock along the wall is filled with petroglyph panels.

Apparently romance was in the air in ancient times?

The wide ledge slowly descended along the high wall.  As it approached the valley floor we came to a split in the trail.  Turning left would continue our hike down, while turning right would lead steeply up a wide, dry drainage wash.  Our research revealed that there were more petroglyphs up there and that we might even find two sets of ruins.  So up the wash we went, stopping for lunch along the way.

Lunch with a view

Heading up the wash

We were following what some call a “social trail” up the wash, meaning it was an informal trail that was really just a set of tracks left by a few earlier hikers.  At one point we had to climb up a shelf on the south side of the wash to continue, which just added to the fun.

OK, where did the trail go?

Once at the top of the wash we were treated to great views in all directions.

The La Sal Mountains to the east

Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area to the wests

As we rested at the top we noticed an arch nearby.  OK, it was pretty small, but still resembled an arch!

At the top of the wash we turned to the right on to a fairly wide rock fin where the first of two ruins was suppose to be located.  We didn’t see anything of interest until we looked more closely down the fin with binoculars.  Sitting on top of a toadstool-like formation was the wall of the ruins.

The circular wall of the ruins

The information we were following on this hike said that it was a fairly easy scramble up on to the ruins.  The writer must have been related to Spiderman!

We couldn’t get up to these ruins but John continued a bit to see if we could get to a second set of ruins further down the rocky fin.  But the fin came to a steep end, so we turned around and headed back up to the top of the wash.

The end of the road (trail)

Once back at the top we followed the directions and found a path along another wide ledge on the north side of the wash.

Heading down the north side of the wash

Soon more panels of art came into view.

We spotted the area of the second set of ruins above us and climbed up to where our instructions said we could get to them.

Our instructions said that the climb up is not as difficult as it appears because of good hand and foot holds, but larger hikers will struggle fitting up where it is easy.  The writer must have been a bean pole as the crack in the rock was very narrow.  There was no way we were getting up there!

Looking through a hole in the rock to the trail below

We then began our descent and soon found the main trail leading back to Hidden Valley.

The photo below shows the long ledge where we hiked to the second ruin.  The three white arrows point to this ledge with panels of art all along the way.  The arrow pointing down is the location of the first set of ruins.  The second ruin is at the end of this row to the left.

Once we returned to the main trail we hiked back through the valley, enjoying the beautiful view of the snow covered mountains along the way.

After a pleasant walk through the valley we began the steep descent through Barney’s Rubble, a long haul on tired legs.

The parking area at the trailhead comes into view

The nimble hiker uses all her skills to keep upright

This seven mile hike has a little bit of everything you want in a hike.  The steep up and down of Barney’s Rubble provides plenty of exercise, the views are beautiful, and the Indian art is impressive.

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14 Responses to Hidden Valley – Moab

  1. Jeff says:

    Geez – you do not pick easy hikes. A bit of a challenge to find the smallest arch in Moab! Has John read Aron Ralston’s book – Between a Rock and a Hard Place? Are working on the sequel? It sure is great to follow along and take notes for our next trip to the area.

  2. Sue says:

    Great post…..snazzy hat John, it becomes you. Even though you didn’t find everything you were looking for, the hike was a success! The nimble hiker’s guide certainly gave his all trying to squeeze through the narrow crack, I hope he was handsomely rewarded for his efforts.

  3. geogypsy2u says:

    Nice bunch of glyphs. Looks like you’d have to be part mountain goat to get to those ruins. Admire John’s attempt. Love the tiny arch.

  4. Laurel says:

    This is such a cool hike — after seeing Amanda’s post and yours, it’s way up on our list for our next visit to Moab. You’re right — it has it all! (Except I didn’t see a Starbucks…..) I’m glad you’re vetting these hikes for us. :-))

  5. jimandbarb says:

    Love all the petroglyphs, looks like a great hike!

  6. Sherry says:

    What a great post! You had me laughing out loud at your arch and John trying to figure out how to get up to that ruins. Really nice try John. So sorry the information turned out to be not quite so truthful but it looks like a wonderful hike for those gorgeous views. Love the picture near the end of John walking through the valley with the snow caps in the background. That’s a fabulous memory shot that I’d sure like to get for myself.

  7. I really enjoyed this hike and the exploring around the petroglyphs. Glad you found one of the ruins, sounds like quite a scramble just to get anywhere near it! I can’t wait to go back and explore more of that area!

  8. You look like mountain goats. What a contrast with the snow on the peaks.

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    Barney’s Rubble might be my favorite trail name yet 🙂 You found some really nice glyphs – love the Alien prequel next to Pam! Seems the newer new boots are working out fine – you sure needed them in a couple of those spots!! Wonderful photos, especially the hole in the rock and the valley. Add that arch to the official book :-)))))

  10. girlonahike says:

    Looks like a fun one – adding it to my list of hikes to do in Moab! – Alicia @ http://www.girlonahike.com

  11. pmbweaver says:

    Those snow-covered mountains are incredible.
    Those are some of the clearest petroglyphs I have ever seen.
    You call that one “Baby” arch. Too cute.
    So… if I have this right…the writer was a bean-pole spiderman…is that correct? Sort of describes John.

  12. Gay says:

    I really enjoy this hike…the “hidden valley” was full of yellow and purple wildflowers when we did it. The petroglyphs are amazing!

  13. LuAnn says:

    Looks like the perfect hike, with its diversity. Love that shot of John coming back off the trail with the snow-capped mountains.

  14. You should have made some of those Big Horn sheep in the petroglyphs come to life and help get you where you wanted to go!

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