The folded salmon-coloured pamphlet is simply titled: Moab Area Hiking Trails. On the front fold is a black-and-white line drawing of Corona Arch with a couple of hikers enjoying the scenic panorama. I’ve picked up this pamphlet at the Moab Information Centre before, in fact hiked most of the trails listed inside – except for one that stubbornly remained out of sight – until now.
It was a sunny Saturday morning when we pulled into the parking lot for Hidden Valley Trail. It’s a short two-mile route (one-way). There were five vehicles parked near the trailhead info kiosk. “Not too busy, can’t be much of a trail,” I thought to myself.
Ha! After leaving the parking area, the trail switchbacks up 680 feet to Hidden Valley. The switchbacks are steep and steady without a lot of wasted effort for hikers – kudos to the trail builders. The trail surface is rocky with the occasional loose boulder to watch out for, but it’s a quick ascent up the slope to top out in Hidden Valley.
Once up the hill, the sights and sounds of town are left behind as the trail cuts through a lichen-encrusted rock garden punctuated with juniper trees before opening up in the wider valley. Looking back beyond the hill we just climbed, the snow-capped La Sals make a stunning photo op. The smooth trail switches from single track to double track and back again as we climbed the low pass at the northern end of the valley.
Dropping over the pass, the trail descends 0.3 mile to the end of the Moab Rim Jeep Trail. We headed west over slickrock to explore the maze of Navajo sandstone fins that make up much of the 12,635 acre “Behind the Rocks” Wilderness Study Area.
In five hours of leisurely exploration we passed a grand total of five dogs, 13 hikers and 8 bicyclists – not too busy. It must be too much of a hidden trail!
If you go:
Drive south on U.S. 191 from downtown Moab to just south of the Mile 121 marker and turn right onto Angel Rock Road. Continue straight to the stop sign and turn right on Rimrock Lane and follow the road a short distance to its end at the gravel parking lot.