Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lost Creek Waterfall and Treasure Cove - 3/27/14

Top of Lost Creek Waterfall

Lost Creek Waterfall

SMYC Trail
 Today's hike was a well-kept secret to many of the sixteen hikers that participated. The Around the Bend Friends often hike far and wide in this area and for miles around but we have neglected to notice what was in our own backyard, so to speak. The destination of the 5 mile hike that Chris took us on today was the Lost Creek Waterfall and the area above it. We found this higher area so beautiful and we were so dumbfounded that we previously didn't know it was there that we thought a good name for it would be Treasure Cove, or just "Above Lost Creek Waterfall." ... Either one.

SMYC Trail
 We began our hike at the Ice Box Canyon trailhead parking lot. From the Ice Box Canyon Trail, we connected with the SMYC Trail and made our way over to the Lost Creek Trail junction not far from the Willow Springs Road.

Junction at Lost Creek Trail

Lost Creek Trail
 When we turned left onto the Lost Creek Trail, most of us were immediately in another world. This is a trail where many school buses unload hundreds of kids every year for their day out of class. It is part of the Children's Discovery Trail and, in fact, hiking this fun trail makes you feel like a kid again! We walked the boardwalk, climbed past the many-rooted ponderosa pine, and slipped through a rock tunnel. Soon, we arrived at the Lost Creek Waterfall. Today, the waterfall was but a trickle but the spray was accented by a half bloomed red bud tree at the base.

Lost Creek Trail
 We got our photos and looked up. At the lip of the waterfall, was a tiny spout. Our next stop would be up there. Hmmm. "How do we get up there?" we asked Chris.

Trickle of Water at Lower Lost Creek Waterfall

Group Gathered at Waterfall
Never one to say too much too soon, Chris just gave us a look and said, "Not sure." So, we turned and hiked back down the trail until just before we got to the boardwalk again. Then, we turned left. This trail took us up past an ancient Native American rock shelter. There are a few pictographs on the rock and an information sign behind the protective fence. This is the area that was damaged by a graffiti artist a couple of years ago. There was a very large fine bestowed on this wayward youth. Onward, we hiked.

Ancient Shelter
 We circled the ridge point around to the left and began climbing up between two rock walls. From there, the trail took us up to the base of the cliff wall on our left.

The Wall Trail

Climbing Up to the Shelf
 The trail along the wall was fun and we joked at the thought that it would be shorter to get to the top by just climbing up the wall. Eventually, we reached an area of foliage where there was a steep trail climbing up to the top of the wall. (This was probably easier than climbing the wall!) At any rate, when we reached the top of the wall, we found a rock shelf wide enough to hike. Our target was now laterally back around the ridge point. We needed to follow the shelf and small trail in that direction.

Hiking the Shelf
 There were a few places along the shelf that were a little dicey. Not too bad but just enough to make it fun! As we hiked around the corner to the right, a huge beautiful canyon came into view. Slithering down the rock was Lost Creek.

Hiking Toward Lost Creek Canyon (Treasure Cove)

Ann Goes Out on a Limb
We gasped in awe. ... (Well, we did.) The area was, until now, an undiscovered treasure. The photos undoubtedly do not do Treasure Cove justice. Below us was a chunky water slide down to the top of Lost Creek Waterfall. Above us was a deep canyon from which the water flowed. At our level, there was a wonderful place to cool our heels. So we sat and explored and made a video for a club member's retirement party and took a lot of pictures. We were in no hurry to leave.

View from Treasure Cove to the Top of Lost Creek Waterfall
 Oh, the video! Thanks everyone for participating. The video came out really good. (But, Steven Spielberg, I am not!)

Treasure Cove

Dropping Down to View the Top of the Waterfall
 When we finished our break, Chris took us down to the top of the falls before returning around the shelf. At the end of the shelf, our route dropped straight down to Willow Springs Road. We hiked up the road and out the trail to view the petroglyphs on the other side of the Red Rock Wash then returned and crossed the road at the picnic area. After a convenient restroom break, we hiked out the White Rock Hills Loop trail and passed the hand prints and the agave roasting pit. We were doing the "Willow Springs Cultural Experience!"

Coming Down off of the Shelf
 When we passed the trail junction where the White Rock Hills Trail continued up the hill, we went straight and crossed the road again to the Lost Creek Trailhead.

Enjoying the Willow Springs Petroglyphs

Willow Springs Picnic Area
 There was a school bus in the parking lot and lots of kids hiking the discovery trail by now. We connected straight onto the SMYC Trail and followed it back to the Ice Box Canyon Trail and back to the cars. This hike was definitely a keeper!

5 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Points of Interest on the Willow Springs Loop
CW from Top L - Boardwalk on Lost Creek Trail; Willow Springs Petroglyphs; Shelter Pictographs; Agave Roasting Pit; Hand Prints

Returning on SMYC Trail

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