Thursday, May 2, 2013

Waterfall Canyon via Red Rock Wash - 5/2/13

Thirty Foot Waterfall in Waterfall Canyon

Red Rock Wash

 There were twenty hikers on today's Waterfall Canyon hike. The route du jour was an ascent through Red Rock Wash, up and back in Waterfall Canyon then down Rocky Gap Road. We parked at the Willow Springs Picnic Area parking at mile marker 7 on the Red Rock Canyon NCA scenic loop and found the petroglyphs trail that took us down to the very wide wash.

 Red Rock Wash is a wide wash that carries water down from the Rainbow Wilderness / La Madre Wilderness boundary area. Nearly once every year, this wash overflows its bounds and floods the canyon and highways below the park area. Today, the weather was quite optimal as the temperatures were coolish and there was a very nice breeze. No rain was predicted so we were safe from any of those flash floods.

Climbing Out of Red Rock Wash

 We hiked / scrambled up the wash for 1.2 miles. At this point, there is a trail that leads steeply up to the right. We all climbed out of the wash on this trail and found ourselves on Rocky Gap Road right at the "Pink Jeep Turnaround." A little further up the road, a permanent small stream crosses the road. This is the stream that flows from Waterfall Canyon. We waited for everyone to arrive at the junction then turned right into the canyon and began following the stream up.

Hiking Up Waterfall Canyon

 Waterfall Canyon is a gray limestone canyon. However, underneath the flowing stream, the rock is red / orange. There are many small waterfalls along the quarter mile of trail which are very photogenic. Listening to the bubbling water was soothing and we hiked happily up to take our snack break at the top of a thirty footer. Surprised that we were stopping so soon, many hikers wanted to see what was further upstream. The canyon gets more brushy and more difficult to navigate and finally comes to an non-negotiable (without getting wet) waterfall that flows through a crack about 50 yards up from the large waterfall where we stopped.

 After our break, the hike back down through the canyon didn't take very long. Gathering one last time at the canyon / road junction, the twenty hikers then began the stretch down Rocky Gap Road. There was a Pink Jeep at the Pink Jeep Turnaround and we passed one more tough high clearance 4WD truck on its way up the road. Sliding into home, we had completed 4 miles with almost 900 feet of total elevation gain.

Starting Down Waterfall Canyon

Hiking Down Rocky Gap Road

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