The Golden Gate & Handprint Cave
There are two side hikes of interest branching off the system trail that goes to Vultee Arch and Sterling Pass. Both are off-trail routes that go up washes. The first is Handprint Cave (shown below). This is an archaeological site notable for its rock art panel, which contains dozens of inverse handprints. Also depicted are human figures, dogs and game animals, leading to speculation that this cave may have been used as a shelter by various hunting parties over many seasons. An alternative explanation is that the handprints were left behind by young men participating in a rite of passage ceremony.
The second side hike goes up to a large alcove with a spectacular saddle formation, a photogenic spot we call the Golden Gate (shown below). The secluded view is the main reason to hike through the brush to get up here. The route isn't bad until the last 50 yards or so, when the brush gets pretty thick. We came up on the left side.
FINDING THE TRAILHEADS
Start on the system trail that goes to Vultee Arch and Sterling Pass. This trail begins at the parking area at the end of FR 152.
Easy (Handprint Cave)
Difficult for Golden Gate (due to steep elevation gain, route finding and brush)
1.5 miles roundtrip (Handprint Cave)
Any time, but the 4x4 access road can be impassable when wet.
Yes. Must be leashed at all times. Please pickup after your pet and pack it out.