This is another California desert gem that we weren't really expecting to be as amazing as it is. Ladder Canyon is dubbed California’s best slot canyon it’s the first we've seen in Cali so we give it two thumbs up! If you are looking for Ladder Canyon just google it and it will lead you in the right direction no need for 4WD to access the trailhead we did it in a 2WD VW Vanagon so anyone can make it. Ladder Canyon is on BLM land so there is a 14 day camping limit, there are drop toilets on site but they are a walk so bring a shovel. We decided to camp right at the mouth of the canyon and it was a great place to spend a few days exploring the area.
The Ladder Canyon hike is a 4.5 mile hike that can be done in a loop. When starting the hike keep a keen eye to hikers left where you will begin the journey up the first slot canyon. Navigating this section requires a bit of rope climbing and there is what I would call a V0 bouldering problem that some in our group struggled with. With a boost and a hand we were on our way past this section. Once you top out of this canyon you will very exposed to wind and sun above the eroded desert landscape, this is where ample water and sun protection will be needed. We were here in February and needed plenty of water along this stretch of the hike. If you are here in the summer it’s going to be a scorcher so be prepared!
Once you top out you can hike to the summit for amazing views of the desert or you can begin navigating your way down ladder canyon. You will drop down into a canyon and eventually come up on a series of ladders to help you get down into the slot canyon this is where the canyon gets the most narrow and really gives you that Utah/Arizona slot canyon feel. You will exit back into the large canyon you started in. There are more off shoots all around this area and you may need more that a day to explore all this area has to offer.
Remember when camping to pack it in, and pack it out. Lets keep these amazing BLM areas natural. Happy Trails!