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Full Version: Seeking Input: Hiking ... Moonlight vs. Red Wall vs. Fall vs. ???
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For my upcoming trip to DV I'll be driving down Scotty's Castle Road one morning – passing Moonlight, Red Wall, and Fall Canyons – and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on which might be the best option for me. Of the three, I've only ventured into Fall Canyon once and made it to the first dryfall before turning back due to time constraints.

This time I've got probably 4-5 hours of time to kill, but am likely a little gun-shy when it comes to scaling anything more difficult than a moderate dryfall after a bad experience in Slit Canyon two years ago. Looks like I'll be doing this on a Sunday, so I'm also wondering if Fall Canyon will be pretty busy. Personally I'd take a less majestic hike if it meant less people.

Or if there's something else in the area I might want to check out I'm all ears. Thanks.
I'd recommend against doing Red Wall. The dry-fall comes up rather quickly, and from what I've read the bypass sounds a bit nasty.

Fall is nice before and after the impasse, but the bypass isn't the easiest (and the first part is a bit of a scramble, if I recall correctly).

The best slots in Moonlight are in the side canyon near Moonlight Bridge; otherwise the main canyon is a fairly wide open wash and the first few side slots aren't that spectacular, in my opinion. If you have time to get to the bridge, I'd highly recommend it, but if not then there might be better options.

Palmer Canyon (first major canyon north of Fall) is very nice, and a lot like Fall Canyon except without the dry-fall right away; I haven't been there for a while but I'd highly recommend it. I think there is a small boulder jam at some point but I'd need to double-check where exactly it is. I think it's easier to access from the main road than from Fall Canyon (plus you don't have to deal with what Steve Hall calls the Cauldron).

Rock Nettle Slots are also good; the bypass is loose but not too bad, relative to other dry-fall bypasses in the area.

Be mindful of mountain lions in this part of the Grapevines. The last few times we were in that area, which was admittedly a few years ago, we encountered a lot of bones, scat, and remains of a bighorn.
Kauri, thanks a million for the insight. I'd read about these spots years ago but completely forgotten about them. Was great to re-read Steve's trip report about Rock Nettle and all the buzz you generated when you documented the area. I'll probably tackle Palmer based upon your recommendation and start from the road. Fingers crossed for no mountain lions. I can't run nearly as fast as I used to.
Great! Glad I was able to help Smile

I just looked through Steve Hall's TR on Palmer Canyon, and remembered that conditions in that canyon have changed over the years, just like with Mosaic Canyon---there was a bit of gravel in Palmer Canyon when Steve did that hike, and we encountered more gravel, especially near the boulder jam, so it wasn't as difficult when we were there as it looks from Steve's pictures. (My mom even remembers it as "Gravel Canyon" not "Palmer Canyon"!) I have no idea what the conditions are like currently, so you may get turned around at the boulder jam or it might be no problem at all.

Palmer Canyon is a beautiful hike, and it's one of the places in DV where I've wanted to return to someday, even though there are so many new places to explore.
Just seconding the Palmer Canyon notion. I hiked up it in 2017 and didn't run across any difficulties, despite my lack of youth and stature. The immense and colorful dry fall way up at the end is an amazing sight. Sometimes I worry about mountain lions (never have seen one), but I'm relying on my hiking poles to make me look really big. I did come across a big horn mamma and her baby who went racing up the canyon before me. I hope you have a marvelous time.
Hey Bluegreen, did you approach Palmer Canyon from the Titus / Fall Canyon parking lot, or Scotty's Castle Road?
(2021-02-07, 02:24 PM)TacoLand Wrote: [ -> ]Hey Bluegreen, did you approach Palmer Canyon from the Titus / Fall Canyon parking lot, or Scotty's Castle Road?

I parked at the Titus entrance and hiked from there. It wasn't too difficult going around the Cauldron, and there's a nifty little natural bridge you can go under. Full disclosure - I was worried how long it would take me, so my son and I camped at the entrance to Palmer overnight, but a normal hiker could do it in a day. As it turned out, we had enough time on our return that we explored the Cauldron area for more fun.
Looks like it's an extra mile (as the crow flies) from the road to Palmer, vs. Titus to Palmer. Decisions ... decisions .... and looking at a two hour drive after the hike to the south end of the Park so I'll probably just flip a coin the day of.
Ha, didn't see this thread before, else I would have chimed in Smile

My vote: If it is a sunny day, Redwall. If not, upper Fall. Or Rock Nettle?

I fell in love with Redwall when I first hiked it and I have never lost that love. On a sunny day, it is just amazing. I am a big fan of tall red canyons with red light reflected off one wall onto the other. Redwall rocks from as soon as you hit the canyon entrance. If you have only 4-5 hours you won't mind being stopped by the dryfall If there's a rope and you want to trust some random rope that has been in the weather for who knows how long, it's not really that scary looking to get up. The time I got past the dryfall I did the Talus Jack bypass. It was cool but took us a long time - admittedly not the fastest hikers. Redwall is getting popular. Last time there we saw another party, surprised the shit out of me, and there is some evidence of cars parking by the pavement. Helps to have a GPS or else take a careful compass sighting - the canyon turns to the right just after the entrance so you can't really see a big gash as you approach it across the fan Fan was not too bad.

Rock Nettle is awesome. But again, the reds are really best on a sunny day. There's more to explore - you really want to get to the upper canyon - and it's a longer slog. The big lower canyon is just another wash. Rock Nettle is a side canyon on your right but not a hard right, not long after a big reddish (IIRC) boulder in the main wash. We went up the slope in the middle (between Rock Nettle and the main canyon) and dropped down into the upper canyon, went up it a good ways in some wild red eroded slots in fanglomerate, then came down the bypass Steve shows in his site. It was just a bit tricky finding a little gravelly gorge to drop the last 20 feet into the canyon. A LOT of red there. Not the big high walls of Redwall, close narrow little passages.

Moonlight: long slog. Good stuff in there, but some work.

If you've not been above the big fall in Fall, it's good. Smooth narrow grey twisty. But you've already been to the lower canyon so.. But you know it is an easy approach. I've gone up the bypass (on your right on the way up) a few times and its not bad. No real exposure but a bit of air as you go along a smooth ledge to get behind the fall.

Palmer? I dunno, it was OK. The big red fall is pretty cool and massive. If you go from Titus there is a visible trail the whole way. Watch for the fainter left fork where the Fall trail turns up canyon. Try to eyeball a cairn or something on the other side of the Fall wash, or work around a bit once you cross to find the trail. There's several trails, I think sort of upper and lower. The lower trail crosses just below the HellHole (my name for it) and do catch the trail on the other side as it exits the wash. The upper trail works too, you just spend a bit of time following the HellHole down. For us, Palmer was a full day, starting at Titus parking, including a long lunch stop at the base of the big fall. We probably started around 9, as we'd slept at SPW and usually leave around 8.
Well, it sure sounds like I've got multiple hikes in my future if I want to properly explore this area ....

I am running into some timing issues all of a sudden though. If you only had 4 hours to throw at a hike which of these options would be best?
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