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Hidden Valley   |  Stanislav Sedov via Flickr CC*

Hidden Valley Trail

The Hidden Valley Trail, a wonderful adventure hike in the cliffs directly south of Moab, is a trail of two faces. The first trail section is rough, rocky, and difficult, sharply climbing almost 600 feet in its first 0.6 mile. Above that the single-track trail enters Hidden Valley and levels out with gradual grades and an even dirt surface. Take your time on the uphill and you’ll be rewarded with scenic views, solitude, and a fine rock art panel.

The trail is hot during the warm months. Hike during the afternoon when the lower part of the trail lies in the shade of the cliffs above. Bring plenty of water, use sunscreen, and wear a hat. Little shade is found along the trail. Watch for occasional mountain bikers who descend the trail, although they have to carry their bikes down the steep section.

The trailhead is on the south side of the dirt parking area on the south side of Spanish Valley a few miles south of Moab. A BLM map at the trailhead includes a short trail description and information about cryptobiotic soil and minimum-impact practices.

Hike south on the trail up an outwash slope to a BLM register box. Sign in and continue up the trail, switchbacking up steep boulder-strewn slopes and dipping across dry washes. After 0.5 mile the trail begins to flatten out and enters the eastern end of Hidden Valley.

Hidden Valley is exactly that, a wide, shallow valley that is hidden from view. Low cliffs hem it on the north while a towering escarpment of sandstone cliffs, capped by rounded domes composed of Navajo Sandstone, form the southern rim of the valley. The valley’s flat sandy floor is covered with grass and scattered juniper trees.

The trail gently rises up the valley and after 1.2 miles reaches a low divide. Hike another 0.8 mile to the western end of the valley and climb a short hill to a saddle and the turnaround point for the hike. You’ll find great views of Hidden Valley to the east and cliffs, fins, and domes to the south and west. This part of Hidden Valley as well as the surrounding area is part of 12,635-acre Behind the Rocks Wilderness Study Area. To finish the described hike, simply retrace your steps to the trailhead.

Options: The Hidden Valley Trail follows an ancient path used by Native Americans for the past two thousand years. An optional well-used trail provides evidence of their passage in a petroglyph panel at the base of nearby cliffs to the west. To find the rock art, follow the trail that begins at the saddle and goes west on the north side of a cliff band then scrambles up to the cliff base. Go left from the prow of the cliff to find the petroglyphs. Then return to the saddle and follow the Hidden Valley Trail back to the trailhead. It’s downhill all the way.

Or, for extra credit and more miles, you can continue west from the saddle on Hidden Valley Trail, which descends 0.3 mile to the Moab Rim Trail, a four-wheel-drive track that steeply descends another 3 miles to the Colorado River and Kane Creek Road. You need to have a vehicle parked at the western terminus so you can return to the Hidden Valley trailhead and your vehicle.

Hike Details

Overview: A steep hike leads to a hidden valley high above Moab and Spanish Valley. After climbing quickly to the valley, the trail traverses it below gorgeous, towering cliffs.

Distance: 4 miles out and back

Approximate hiking time: 2 to 3 hours

Difficulty: More challenging due to 680-foot elevation gain

Trail surface: Single-track dirt trail

Best season: Year-round; summers are hot.

Other trail users: Occasional mountain bikers

Canine compatibility: Dogs allowed on leash

Fees and permits: No fee

Maps: USGS Moab, Moab Trails Illustrated Explorer

Trail contacts: Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Moab Field Office, 82 E. Dogwood, Moab 84532; (435) 259-2100; website

Finding the trailhead: From Moab, drive 3 miles south on US 191 and turn right (west) on Angel Rock Road. Drive 2 blocks and turn right on Rimrock Road. Drive to the parking area and trailhead at the road’s end.

Trailhead GPS: N 38 31.896', W 109 31.036'

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