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2011-03-19  
Grotto/Rainbow Rocks Loop, CA
mini location map2011-03-19
34 by photographer avatarRedRoxx44
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Grotto/Rainbow Rocks Loop, CA 
Grotto/Rainbow Rocks Loop, CA
 
Hiking avatar Mar 19 2011
RedRoxx44
Hiking9.00 Miles
Hiking9.00 Miles
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
A great hike with a little of everything. The older guide book "100 Great Hikes in and near Palm Springs" by Phillip Ferranti with Hank Koenig ( who has a memorial plaque a short distance in on this hike--RIP) is a good resource. Five miles up Box Canyon road past the turn off for Painted Canyon outside of Mecca you will see an informal TH off to the right a short distance on a sandy turn off.
Heed the distance because lots of informal campsites in this area.
Flowers were blooming everywhere. It was rather cloudy and warm, and the trail proceeds rapidly along a ridgeline in mudstone type badlands. Great views of the Salton Sea. Below you you will see some desolate palms of Sheep Hole Oasis. As you descend to cross the wash follow the old metal posts, some cairns also. You will be in a broad wash that will narrow into a more confined mudwalled wash. Rounding a corner the first colors begin, and two purplish pillars of rock herald the entrance to Hidden springs oasis. Keep on hiking. Grotto one is another side canyon up on the left. If you head this canyon it is quite incredible as far as colors go. The dull light actually helped bring out the richness of the palette. The canyon ends, as the author says, in an explosion of color. I scrambled about in here for the photo ops for a while. Now, seek out the Alice in Wonderland hole in the mudstone. I forgot my headlamp so used the infrared strobe of the camera to get me through about 30 feet of darkness. You have to climb out about 12 feet, sort of vertical, with good polished holds. On you go, soon scrambling out to enjoy the ridgeline. A variety of bighorn sheep trails and old quad trails provide the overland route to return.
I wandered off here a bit also. It's tricky though because the mudhills have some sharp and steep dropoffs in places. So don't count on easily crossing the multiple gullies here. I made several loose traverses that had some penalty points. I eventually crossed the right trail, and dropped back into Hidden Oasis, with its few palms and tiny pool.
I exited out by Sheep Hole, it's spring without surface water. The sun had made a reappearance and I had plenty of time to retreat to a campsite by the Sea.

Highly recommended if in this area.
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