Noble Canyon Trail – Hiking and Finding Relics of the Past in the Laguna Mountains

Noble Canyon Trail was named after William Noble, who was an early settler in the area during the 1800s. He was known for his success in the mining industry and his contributions to the local community. The trail was established in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program that provided jobs for young men during the Great Depression. The trail has since become a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.

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Our Plan from the Noble Canyon Trailhead

We started our hike at 7:30 am on the Noble Canyon trail from the Penny Pines trailhead off the Sunrise Highway. Typically hiked point-to-point, the Nobel Canyon trail is popular with both hikers and mountain bikers. Since we were carpooling with only one car, a 10-mile point-to-point hike was not an option for us. Therefore, we opted for a 13.9-mile loop that would take us down into the canyon to Pine Creek Road and back up to the Sunrise Highway.

We were carpooling and only had one car, so hiking the 10-mile trail point-to-point was out of the question. We also weren’t up for a 20-mile day, so hiking out and back was also out of the question. To solve the dilemma, we chose to hike a 13.9-mile loop that would take us down into the canyon to Pine Creek Road and back up to the highway.

A gated trail leading into the forest
Penny Pines trailhead from the Sunrise Highway

Leaving the Trailhead

Shortly after leaving the trailhead, we passed the valley where Pine Creek Road meets back up with the Sunrise Highway. Across the valley, we could see Garnet Peak overlooking the desert and the pine tree-covered summit of Pine Mountain.

A sparse pine tree forest near Garnet Peak.
Looking across the valley towards Garnet Peak

As we made our way down into the canyon, the forest became more lush and green. It was late spring and the wildflowers were in full bloom, adding to the beauty of the trail.

A fallen log surrounded by blooming wild flowers.
Wildflowers blooming in Noble Canyon

Further down into the canyon, the forest became more lush and green. It was late spring and the wildflowers were in full bloom, adding to the beauty of the trail.

The trail was well traveled and easy to follow. It meandered alongside the creek below, providing plenty of shade from the trees above, which made this section of Noble Canyon trail a pleasure to hike during the heat of the day.

Ian hiking along a forested trail.
Making our way along the creek under the canopy of shady oak trees

As we continued hiking, we were treated to clear views of the canyon around us. With a topographic map in hand, we were easily able to pinpoint our location, which gave us a good idea of how far we had traveled. At this point, we started to keep an eye out for signs of old mining and cabin ruins rumored to be in the area.

A rugged trail winding through a green canyon.
Catching views of the canyon made it easy to pinpoint our location on the topo map

Running Water and Historical Ruins in Noble Canyon

Soon after, we came across our first creek crossing. The water was flowing lightly, but enough that there was a soothing sound of a couple of small waterfalls. We knew that with a reliable water source in sight, it wouldn’t be long before we found the mining ruins and, hopefully, evidence of the old water flume.

A small creek filled with lush, green water plants
Our first creek crossing in Noble Canyon

We kept an eye on the creek and soon started finding pieces of the old water flume. Small, broken-down dams and other concrete structures were visible from the trail. Ian took every opportunity to go off-trail and investigate the old ruins.

Ian hiking into the brush towards an old water flume
Ian going off trail to explore remains of the water flume in Noble Canyon

We continued working our way down until we came across a creek crossing where we met back up with the trail on the other side. Standing on the other side, Ian spotted what was clearly a man made wall. Without hesitation, he headed back across the creek and up a small hill to investigate.

Ian crossing a creek.
Ian making his way across the creek before we spotted the mining ruins above

We found the remnants of an old homestead hidden among the trees just above the creek on the south side of the trail. The abandoned evidence of a difficult lifestyle long forgotten was strewn about the site. Lacking any real historical background at the time, we assumed this site was used by the people who ran the mine we discovered a little further down the trail.

Ruins of an old cabin in Noble Canyon.
Investigating the old cabin ruins next to the creek

Hiking Out of Noble Canyon

We followed Noble Canyon Trail for a few more miles until we reached a fork in the trail. At the fork, we had the option to continue on Noble Canyon Trail to the left or take the less-traveled trail to the right that would lead us directly to Pine Creek Road. We picked up Pine Creek Road and followed it back up and around the canyon until we reached the point where we had crossed the road on our hike down.

A paved road winds its way up the mountain.
Following Pine Creek Road to avoid the technical trail back out of Noble Canyon

Near the end of our hike, we had our second snake sighting of the day. The first was a small racer that we saw sunning itself along the trail, and the second was a 3-foot Southern Pacific Rattlesnake. Fortunately, I spotted the snake about 20 feet ahead on the trail. It hadn’t noticed us yet and was slowly making its way around a tree when it caught on to my presence. It quickly spun around and warned me of its presence with a loud rattle, but I managed to capture a photo before it slithered away.

A southern pacific rattle snake escaping in the grass.
A Southern Pacific rattlesnake doing its best to go unnoticed near the trail


Hiking the Noble Canyon Trail is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast looking for a challenging and rewarding hike in the Laguna Mountains. Whether you choose to hike the trail point-to-point or take on the 13.9-mile loop hike, the stunning views, natural beauty, and historic nature of the trail will make it a hike to remember.

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