Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon is one of my personal favorite places in Death Valley, being the section of canyon located in between the 1st and 2nd major dry falls which contains three unique sets of spectacular narrows. Difficulties encountered on the hike include figuring out the location of the canyon, carrying out a very long initial hike (up to 10 miles one-way depending on the parking area) just to reach the starting point, and using a long bypass to overcome the 1st major dry fall and get into the middle canyon. Route maps and GPS coordinates are not provided in order to avoid a large amount of increased visitation to this area and to protect fragile formations.
Reaching and fully exploring Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon proved to be one of the great challenges to overcome in my hiking adventures in Death Valley. It was a three year process that all started back on March 16, 2009. At that time, my wife Daria and I hiked out to Lower Hidden Bridge Canyon to check out the amazing natural bridge that the canyon is named for. The route we used to get there was nearly 10 miles one way. At that time, we didn't give any thought to trying to climb or bypass the tall polished dry fall which is found directly behind Hidden Bridge itself. Over the next couple of years, my mind really started thinking about trying to see the rest of the canyon. I had this feeling inside that there had to be some incredible narrows above that dry fall which I was missing out on. This feeling was simply based on a hunch and reflecting on the beautiful but short narrows found in the lower canyon. Finally, I mapped out a route and set out for Upper Hidden Bridge Canyon on December 8, 2011. The route which I chose turned out to be slightly shorter but much more challenging to hike. My friend Tobin and I did find our way into Upper Hidden Bridge Canyon at that time and we fully explored it. Yet, we ran into a heartbreaking obstacle. As we were walking down Upper Hidden Bridge Canyon, we came to the edge of a huge dry fall which we could not safely get down. From this dry fall, we could see down into some majestic slot narrows with massively high walls. It was a bittersweet moment. As we had already burned over an hour trying to unsuccessfully access the middle canyon, and because it was a short day with limited daylight hours left, we had no choice but to finish seeing the upper canyon and then hike back to our vehicle. I must say, it was very difficult going home from our Fall 2011 trip having failed to see all of Hidden Bridge Canyon.
But the time for redemption finally came on March 9, 2012, nearly three full years after my first hike to the Hidden Bridge area. Using yet another new route, my sister Tiffany, my friend Javan, and I all hiked out to try to access Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon. We did this by hiking to the canyon mouth and then looking for a bypass from there. While Tiffany and Javan went into Lower Hidden Bridge to rest up and hang out there for a couple of hours (they had never seen Hidden Bridge and the hike just to get to that point took everything out of them, as it would most people), I proceeded to fairly easily bypass into Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon by hiking up and over the left hillside. Once I was finally inside Middle Hidden Bridge Canyon and back on the canyon floor, it was a moment of true celebration. It was one of the best moments I had ever had in Death Valley, and it was about to get a whole lot better. From my spot in the canyon where I had come down from the bypass, I looked down canyon and could see some spectacular narrows. But before exploring them, I headed farther up canyon to try to reach the dry fall which had stopped me three months earlier. I soon passed through the 2nd Narrows, which were made of crumbling rock with lots of twists and turns. A short time later, I finally walked into the towering slot narrows which were very lengthy and I had only seen from above on the previous trip. These 3rd Narrows were very impressive. I did indeed reach the base of the dry fall and then I turned around and hiked back down canyon. After over an hour of hiking (a little over 1 mile each way), I was back at the spot where I had first bypassed into the canyon. And the fun was about to begin. The 1st Narrows of Hidden Bridge Canyon are classed among the best in the park, being very reminiscent of Fall Canyon and Dry Bone Canyon. The narrows had polished rock and a fiery glow to them. Just before reaching the end, I came to a perplexing spot in the canyon. Looking below me, I could see a chute dropping down and off to the canyon floor. The chute was smooth and it was unclear in my mind if I would be able to get back up it if I dropped down. So I stood there studying it carefully for five minutes. Finally, it dawned on me that it was not as hard as it looked, that I would be able to safely get down and back up by using a boulder to the left side to help me. Sure enough, it was relatively easy. A short time later, I arrived at the top of the 1st dry fall of Hidden Bridge Canyon. Below me I could see Hidden Bridge itself and my sister Tiffany and friend Javan. We took pictures of each other, I finally ate my lunch, and then I hiked back up canyon. This time, I bypassed back out of the canyon on the right side, which was the opposite side that I had done earlier. I wanted to test it out, and it worked fine. It was quite a bit harder. And so ended a day that was three years in the making. It was a day of happiness but also of sadness. Because inside I realized that the greatest of my Death Valley adventures had come to an end. Three years, three epic hiking days, and a lifetime of memories.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
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