Friday, December 20, 2013

Sandstone Canyon - Spring Mountain Ranch State Park - 12/20/13

Sandstone Canyon

Assortment of Ranch Views

 What a treat today was! A lucky thirteen hikers drove out to the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park on Highway 159 within the Red Rock Canyon NCA for a hike into Sandstone Canyon. Sandstone Canyon actually lies outside the state park, however, access to it is controlled by the ever present state park rangers that manage the ranch. Folks, the best way to get to Sandstone Canyon is by paying your state park fee and doing it legally!

Hiking Out by the Lake

 Jon, today's coordinator, was genuinely enthusiastic as he showed us the park while we hiked through. The lake, especially, is a beautiful sight - complete with coots and Mt. Wilson's reflection. Behind the ranch, we found the trailhead at the end of the dirt road, hiked a trail a little ways then dropped into the canyon wash. We immediately began scrambling up canyon over the colorful pastel rocks. A few times, we were more bouldering than scrambling as we climbed up and over rocks that were a lot bigger than we were!


Hiking Toward the Sun

 There were several sandstone shelves within the walls. The wall to the north tops off with Peak ee Toe Peak then Indecision Peak. The wall to the south tops off with Sandstone Peak. The rim of the escarpment that we could see from the floor of the canyon is where we hike when we go to Little Zion. We scrambled our way up to a canyon fork. Turning to our left, we went just a little way further and stopped for a snack just below a very large shelf cave about twenty-five feet above us. Jon says that this is his condo!

Breaking Under Jon's Cave Condo

The Canyon Split

 The thirteen of us were in no hurry today and we sat for our break until the sunless canyon started icing our fingers and toes. The trip down canyon was a lot easier than the trip up but, still, no one was in much of a hurry. It was nice to be able to be very careful of our footing. When the whole group gathered once again at the lake, Jon pointed out "Little Boulder Dam." From there, we hiked around the lake on the other side and passed by "Boot Hill," the old cemetery.

Judy is never too busy to smile!

 When we got back to the pasture, we searched again for "the" cow, Penelope. She still wasn't around. It was a beautiful day but, perhaps, Sandstone Canyon would be sunnier in the spring or fall when the sun is positioned differently. It is a nice colorful scramble that wasn't too difficult. Definitely, Spring Mountain Ranch was worth the visit! Our hike was around 4 miles with about 900 feet of elevation gain.

Canyon Colors

Calico Hills from Spring Mountain Ranch

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