Saturday, November 16, 2013

Escarpment Base Trail - 11/16/13

At the Base of the Red Rock Canyon NCA Escarpment

Trail View of Turtlehead and the Calico Hills

Arnight Trail
 Sixteen hikers ushered in cooler air today as they hiked through the heavy gusts of wind descending upon the Las Vegas alluvial fan. Our route, named the Escarpment Base Trail, was a point to point hike from the lower end at the Oak Creek Trailhead to the upper end at the Lost Creek Trailhead on the Willow Springs spur road. We drove the Red Rock Canyon NCA scenic loop around to Lost Creek, consolidated our carpools then drove everyone down to Oak Creek where the Arnight Trail begins. Arnight Trail, Pine Creek Trail, Dale's Trail and SMYC Trail would all participate on our route du jour.

Arriving at the Old Wilson Homestead

Mescalito Peak from the Wilson Homestead

Wilson Oven at Pine Creek
 We began hiking out Arnight Trail which is covered with loose rocks that required dodging. We passed the Knoll Trail and spur to the Fire Ecology Trail turnoffs and continued down to the old Wilson homestead located in Pine Creek Canyon. As we took a small break on the old foundation, Chris told us the story about the Wilson family living here growing fruit and vegetables with the water of Pine Creek until the need to be closer to town became apparent. On our way to the Dale's Trail junction, we passed by their rock oven and their front entrance pillar.

Hiking the Rock Garden Named Dale's Trail

Pinion Pine and Juniper

Dale's Trail
Dale's Trail is one long rock garden filled with colorful boulders and various types of cacti. The escarpment provided an overlooking backdrop and the dirt under our feet was tinted red. There were several washes that we had to cross by dipping down and back up but emphasis was placed on the "back up" part as we gained elevation throughout the hike. We stopped at a place where a park bench had been placed for our long break. It was evident by the disturbed dirt and hoove prints covering the area that bighorns gathered there recently.

Turtlehead from the Snack Spot

Climbing Up to Cross Ice Box Canyon

SMYC Trail
 After the break, we continued on Dale's Trail until we passed through the Ice Box Canyon wash and crossed over the several trails that service the canyon. By hiking in somewhat of a straight line, we connected with the SMYC Trail next. This trail is no less beautiful. It takes the hiker along an area of the escarpment that houses an old mountain lion den that is occupied from time to time. Finally, we arrived in the Willow Springs area after 5.5 miles. We gained 1145 feet in elevation during the hike but only lost 575 feet since Lost Creek is 570 feet higher in elevation than Oak Creek.

Old Mountain Lion Den

Willow Springs and White Rock Hills

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