Grotto Overlook-2nd Times a Charm

We woke to clearing skies on Christmas morning so we decided it was a great time to take a hike.  The surrounding mountains had been encased in clouds for 2-days while snow piled up on them.  We wanted to take a short hike that would take us up just high enough for views of San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountains. img_7751 SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLast year we had attempted a hike to the “Grotto Overlook” and knew that in less than 1/2 mile on this trail we would be up high enough to get great views.  We had no plans to hike on further to try to find the “overlook”.  We had given up our attempt last year as the directions were not clear and it was a a very hot day.  Today we got up to views quickly and decided we would hike on further to where you drop down into the first canyon.  The weather was great for hiking, low 50’s and with full sun we were very comfortable.  We got down into the canyon much quicker than we anticipated and took a lunch break under the large ironwood tree.  During lunch we decided we would make another attempt at finding the Grotto overlook.

To get to this hike you follow the Box Canyon Road about 5 miles past the intersection with the Painted Canyon road. There is a small sign on the right side of the road for “Sheep Hole Trail” marking the parking area for this hike.img_2270  You will need to drive off the road a few hundred yards to the parking area.  The sand here was still hard packed despite all the recent rain, so driving off the road was no issue. The start of the hike will be right in front of you.  There are some large rocks “guarding” the entrance to try to keep ATV’s out, but small ones can still squeeze by.  You will walk a few hundred yards down this wash.  Keep an eye to the right for a trail.  You will follow this trail as it winds up quickly to your first views of the Salton Sea.  img_2164

The trail is pretty easy to follow through here.  You will continue on until you reach the high point.  There is a plaque at this point.img_2266  Take a moment to take in the great views and get ready for a steady climb down into the canyon.  This ridge line has great views the whole way.  img_7750

You will be looking for a trail on your left that takes you quickly down into the wash.  On this trip we found a few cairns and arrows along the way, but you cannot count on them.


Dad, I think we turn left here

As you descend into the wash you will get a view of where you will be going. img_4351 As you reach the  floor you should be around the 1 mile mark.  You will turn right and then walk a short distance before turning left up into the next wash.(see picture above)  You  will hike approximately another 0.4 miles until you reach a large Palo Verde tree on your right that is “hiding” the entrance to the trail.img_2209  You will need to climb behind this tree and work your way up to the ridge.  SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Once you get to the top of the ridge, hike to the right. You will  need to look across the wash to the next ridge looking for a low spot.  Once you see this spot you should be able to make out the trail.  Walk across the wash and up and over the low spot and then down into the next wash. Once you get to this wash you will turn left and head for a large palo verde tree.  Once you arrive at the tree look up at the mountains ahead of you.  You will see a mountain with tan coloring near the top.  This is the general direction you will be hiking.


This is the view from the large palo verde tree

Continue hiking in the direction pictured above, you will find one more large palo verde tree guarding the entrance to the wash.


Keep an eye out for cairns- we spotted several very helpful ones on our hike

You will follow this wash as it brings you up higher into a narrowing canyon.  The canyon is very beautiful as it winds its way up. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES Make sure you always stay left as you make your way through here.  The footing gets a little rockier around the 2 mile mark.  You will be at around the 2.1 mile mark when you need to start looking to the left to find your way up to the ridge line.  You will start to notice some very light lavender color rocks on the ground and the same color rocks up on the ridge, this is how you will know you are close.


Just a hint of lavender in the rock- it’s subtle so you have to look close

There was a small cairn marking the start of the hike to the ridge when we were there.


Carefully make your way up this chute.  The rocks are loose so the footing is not great.  The moment you hit the top of the ridge there is a “wow” factor as everything suddenly comes into view.  There is an explosion of colors on the rocks below and a great view into a canyon.  img_4393

Once you are on the top be extremely careful.  The trail is very narrow and it is straight down on the other side. img_7769

I took a selfie at the top and was nervous about falling over backwards into the canyon.  It is that narrow and steep.

This hike is a definite must if you are in the area-I’m hoping the pictures help others find their way to this beautiful location.

Link to hike-Garmin screenshot-2016-12-28-06-58-52

About gizmogoeswest

I just "pre-tired" from my job of over 30 years as a nurse. John, my husband and Gizmo and Sierra our Shih Tzus are embarking on our 3rd cross country RV adventure. We are searching for awesome dog friendly hikes and adventures
This entry was posted in Dog Friendly, Hikes, hiking, The journey west, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Grotto Overlook-2nd Times a Charm

  1. Pingback: The End of the Journey West and the Beginning of the Journey East | gizmogoeswest

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