Hidden Spring and The Grotto - 1.24.2021

From the town of Mecca... drive east on 66th Ave... just before crossing the canal the road changes to Box Canyon Road... then drive 6.1 miles to an unsigned Sheep Hole Oasis parking area... we will hike down to the opening in the middle of the photo to gain access to the foothills.
A short walk from where we parked just off of the Box Canyon Road is an unsigned (but heavily traveled) entry into the foothills.
Just after entering the foothills we will gain 100 feet of elevation on an obvious trail.
That 100 feet of elevation gain brings broad views in every direction... here looking SE (left) to SW (right)... across the Mecca Hills to the Salton Sea... with the Santa Rosa Mountains on the right horizon... we will follow the trail on the left down into Hidden Spring Canyon.
Here looking west across the Mecca Hills to the Santa Rosa Mountains on the left horizon... NW to a cloud covered San Jacinto Peak in the left center of the photo... and north (right) across the Mecca Hills to the Little San Bernardino Mountains on the far right horizon.
Here looking NE (left) to the SE (right)... across the Mecca Hills to the darker colored Orocopia Mountains on the right horizon.
Denali Girl taking a shot from our first high point.
Time to give up a little elevation and head SE on the trail that will take us down to Hidden Spring Canyon.
Continuing on the trail... here looking down on the entry to Sheep Hole Oasis... we won't visit it today... perhaps another day.
Almost down to the wash... in 2015 we went to the right which turned out to be the longer route... so this time we went to the left... a shorter path to reach Hidden Spring Canyon.
After hiking a little more than a mile Denali Girl is taking the shortcut shown in the previous photo... crossing what I would call the Sheep Hole Oasis wash.
One small up and down to reach Hidden Spring Canyon.
Looking down on Hidden Spring Canyon... the one with all of the green trees.
Hiking NE in the very broad Hidden Spring Canyon.
After hiking a total of 2.1 miles we have reached one of the most colorful collection of rock that I have ever seen... an artist's palette for sure... this is on the opposite side of the canyon from where we will take a tributary canyon up to Hidden Spring.
Leaving Hidden Spring Canyon and taking a tributary canyon that will take us to Hidden Spring... note that the turn is marked with the post in the lower left corner of the photo... and again, this is directly across the canyon from the colorful photo in the previous photo.
After hiking a total of 2.2 miles we have reached Hidden Spring... lots of palm trees, but no water.
A nice clump of palm trees in Hidden Spring... we will continue to hike on up this tributary canyon.
After hiking 2.7 miles we have left the tributary canyon and are continuing NE in the Mecca Hills... we will eventually be returning via the main canyon... closing the loop portion of our hike at the 'colorful rock formation'.
After hiking a total of 3 miles we decided to eat lunch at our high point (~1050') for the day.
After lunch we continued north on a good path... eventually turning east and heading down to enter the main Hidden Spring Canyon.
Our first ocotillo bloom of the year.
Heading east as we search for the entry to Hidden Spring Canyon... below on the right.
On a very steep road that will get us down to the canyon... my comment of 'Does not Work' is where we first looked for entry to the canyon.
Looking back at the very steep road we came down... Denali Girl is coming back from taking a look at the 'Does not Work' area from the previous photo.
After hiking a total of 3.5 miles Denali Girl heads down into Hidden Spring Canyon.
This is a much more impressive canyon than the tributary canyon we used to get here... more narrow and definitely deeper.
Denali Girl hiking down Hidden Spring Canyon... in search of The Grotto.
Denali Girl dealing with one of the obstacles in the canyon.
Make yourself small here... and long legs will definitely help.
Denali Girl has put on her headlamp... getting ready to enter The Grotto.
Denali Girl has just entered The Grotto and looking back as I get ready to enter.
Denali Girl leads us into the grotto... her headlamp is highlighting a rock that is attached to both sides of the grotto.
Up and over the rock from the previous photo was a lot more appealing than trying to go underneath it.
We have survived getting over the rock that was attached to both sides of the grotto... now we will use rock foot-holds to stay two feet above the floor of the grotto until we can get to a spot where the grotto broadens.
Still alive... now on much easier terrain in the grotto... are we done with the scrambling?
A small opening... maybe there is more scrambling to do.
Scrambling up 15 feet in the grotto.
Too narrow to squeeze through... so it will be up and over.
Almost done with the 'up and over' scramble from the previous photo.
Hallelujah... the terrain looks easy now... and we can see that 'colorful rock formation' in the distance.
After hiking a total of 4.7 miles we have closed the loop portion of our hike at the 'colorful rock formation'.
Hiking SW in Hidden Spring Canyon... now tracing our steps back to the car.
After hiking a total of 5.5 miles we will leave Hidden Spring Canyon and take the shortcut over to where we will head uphill in the foothills.
The shortcut will take us over to where we will start the uphill hike back to our car... the red star is where we will be less than a quarter mile from the car.
Denali Girl... hiking north on an obvious trail.
Heading north for the barn.
Back at our first high point... here looking back at the Salton Sea and the trail that took us down to Hidden Spring Canyon.
From our first high point we can see part of the Box Canyon Road in the center of the photo... we will be at our car very soon.
Back at our car... the hike was 6.8 miles, gaining 1087 feet of elevation.