Saturday, November 13, 2010

Blue Diamond Bike Trails (also, Ash Canyon Overlook) - 11/13/10

The Blue Diamond Bike Trails utilize part of the Old Spanish Trail. This marker (below) is found on a small hill up to the west side of the trail on the stretch from Blue Diamond to Highway 160. Wikipedia has this to say in its introduction of the old trade route.

"The Old Spanish Trail is a historical trade route which connected the northern New Mexico settlements near or in Santa Fe, New Mexico with that of Los Angeles, California and southern California. Approximately 1,200 mi (1,900 km) long, it ran through areas of high mountains, arid deserts, and deep canyons. It is considered one of the most arduous of all trade routes ever established in the United States. Explored, in part, by Spanish explorers as early as 1776, the Trail saw extensive use by pack trains from about 1830 until the mid-1850s."

Wikipedia continues, "The name of the trail comes from the publication of John C. Frémont’s Report of his 1844 journey for the U.S. Topographical Corps. guided by Kit Carson from California to New Mexico. The name acknowledges the fact that parts of the trail had been known to the Spanish since the seventeenth century. Frémont's report named a trail that had already been in use for about 15 years. The trail is significant to New Mexico history, because it established an arduous but usable trade route with California."

Today, twenty- six hikers only did a tiny portion of the Old Spanish Trail which amounted to about half a mile! The rest of the hike winded its way around, up and over the hills between the little town of Blue Diamond and Highway 160. The Red Rock Canyon NCA escarpment and Cottonwood Valley were in view for most of the hike. (So was one of either Highway 160 or 159 able to be seen.)

After twisting and turning with the bike trail as we climbed the most prominent hill, we stopped on a grouping of boulders (seen below) to take our break and have a snack. Our view of the escarpment to the west is seen above. We could also see part of the Las Vegas Strip over the gypsum mine to the northeast. To the left, there is a photo of the blogger and photographer. Everyone is always saying she needs to put pictures of herself on the website. Well, here it is!

Leaving our perch on the boulders, we began our hike back down to Blue Diamond. We circled around to descend through a long canyon. There are two choices of return trails. One leads down the left or north side of the canyon and one leads down the right or south side of the canyon. Today, we chose the south side which is nice because it follows under the cliffs and is in shadow for part of the way.

We looked and looked for the herd of burros that live in this area of Red Rock Canyon NCA. Many times, they have been spotted from this particular trail. However, today, we didn't find any burros ... only the second part of our group of hikers as seen in the photo to the left.

The photo above shows Blue Diamond as seen from the descending portion of the trail. The hike was approximately 5.3 miles in length and lasted 2.5 hours. The weather was perfect even though the hike began on the slightly chilly side.

This is the GPS map which shows the trails which are used for a Blue Diamond Bike Trails hike. Today, most of us returned from snack rock on the trail which leads below the cliffs (option #2) then crossed straight to the parking lot on the alternate route.

Above are the GPS waypoint map and elevation chart for the Ash Canyon Overlook hike. I heard a rumor that the hike today was going beyond the traditional route. Therefore, this map and chart may not reflect the exact route taken today.

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