Moab, Utah lies at the bottom of a fault in the Colorado Plateau. Red cliffs, buttes, and hills rise up on every side. On the west side are cliffs that stand 1500 to 1800 feet above the town. This is the Behind the Rocks Wilderness Area. There are no trails or tracks that go over these cliffs from the east, but there is one zigzagging trail that climbs up to shelf-like bench 700 feet above. The Hidden Valley trail starts 3 miles south of town. Turn at Angel Rock Road and then onto Rimrock Road to the trailhead.
The trail climbs steeply, but on switchbacks through the boulder slopes to a small pass. Once over the lip of the escarpment, a grassy valley continues on for 2 miles to another pass. From that point on, the track descends to a jeep road on the Moab Rim track and eventually down to the Colorado River near Kane Creek Canyon.
Right at the top of the second pass are cliffs rising on the north side, an archaeological site on the south-facing cliff faces, though there is no prior information until you get right to the spot (off trail) so most hikers don't know the petroglyphs are there. These are Anasazi and Fremont contributions displaying hunting, fighting, and people's lives. The panel is quite long and it takes a bit of rough hiking to follow the length of the panels.
We returned the way we came, about 5 miles of hiking in all, but we vowed to return to explore the area some more. Above is an area providing many years of exploration (see Hiking Behind the Rocks) and there are more archaeological sites, routes, and viewpoints on the benchland too. We had not expected such a rewarding hike. On our return visit, we will spend the day in the area.