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 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.
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.
Once at the top of the wash we were treated to great views in all directions.
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 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.
Once back at the top we followed the directions and found a path along another wide ledge on 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!
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.
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.