Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grand Circle - 11/3/13

Turtlehead Peak from the Grand Circle Trail

Calico Hills from the Grand Circle Trail

 The Grand Circle Trail is a twelve mile loop hike beginning and ending at the Red Rock Canyon NCA Visitor Center. It travels around the canyon floor showing off Red Rock's escarpment, White Rock Hills and the Calico Hills while gaining a total of 1300 elevation feet. The hike, itself, is not difficult. However, the distance of the hike makes this 4 to 6 hour endeavor strenuous. There were eleven hikers on today's adventure!

Red Rock Wash Crossing

 We aimed for an average pace to complete the hike in 5 hours. Our uphill climb from the Visitor's Center to White Rock Springs averaged almost 3 mph. It is an uneventful gradual climb with views of the escarpment heading straight in the direction of Willow Springs. As we approached the junction with the White Rock Hills Loop, we commented on the new hike called Snoopy's Nose. Below, find a graphic of this reportedly "messy" hike that some of the club members did a week ago.

Snoopy Mountain within the La Madre Mountain Range

The White Rock Hills Loop section of the Grand Circle Trail started at a high point near the south end of the White Rock Hills, dipped into the small canyon then climbed up the old road trail to the White Rock Springs Trailhead. Today, we took a small detour to the spring cistern before heading on up to the break area at the trailhead where pit toilet #1 awaited!

Section of White Rock Hills Loop

 Feeling good that most of the climbing was done, we started down on the second leg of the hike. This section took us down the dirt road, crossed the scenic loop (2nd time), and began crossing the desert about half a mile southeast of the scenic loop high point turnout. We dipped and climbed in short spurts until we reached the Sandstone Quarry area. We took another shortened break here at pit toilet #2. We still felt good and were anxious to complete the hike down by the beautiful Calico Hills.

Break Time at White Rock Springs Trailhead

 This section of the Grand Circle is most familiar to us. Many other hikes use this thoroughfare to get from place to place but, today, as always, we enjoyed the colorful palette of the sandstone rising up to our left. We hiked down past Calico II and arrived at Calico I where there were many cars parked along the scenic loop roadway. Our hike continued down until we found the small crossover trail that led to the Visitor's Center. The last mile was the longest but we were no worse for the wear! 4 hours and 53 minutes! Great day! Great hike!

Dropping into Sandstone Quarry Area

Hiking Along the Calico Hills

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