Saturday, April 19, 2014

Corn Creek Visitor Center & Trails - Desert National Wildlife Refuge - 4/19/14

New Corn Creek Visitor Center

Desert National Wildlife Refuge

Rosie Channeling her Inner Bighorn
 Twenty-two and a half hikers gathered to visit the new Corn Creek Visitor Center out at the Desert National Wildlife Refuge today. We drove north on I-95 for sixteen miles from our meeting location and turned a sharp right onto Corn Creek Road. This is a 3.5 mile graded dirt road that is in very good condition and leads to the visitor center that has shaded parking spaces. When we arrived, we saw that there was a native plant volunteer effort underway. They were planting various seedlings off of one of the nature trails behind the visitor center. We also shared the complex with a large group of children and adults who were doing the same things that we were doing but we easily stayed well out of each other's way! Our first order of business was to explore the interior displays. They were very informative. One of the favorites was the one Rosie is standing in in the photo to the left. When we stood on the prints, we could feel the padded softness that the bighorns feel from their hooves. It really was quite enlightening! The display read that the outer layer of the hoof is hard and protective. However, the inner organic substance is soft and cushy.

A Few of the Visitor Center Displays
 We spent thirty minutes inside the building. There was also a ranger's desk and gift shop inside.

View from Corn Creek Springs

Exterior Display
 Armed with a small map of the 1.5 miles of nature trail behind the building, we started our walk. The plan was to just keep turning right. That way, we would cover everything there was to cover. The exterior displays were very nice as well. There were signs and sun shelters along the way. It was also impressive to see the mountains on either side of us; the Sheep Range to the north and the Spring Mountains to our south.

Hikers Studying the Grinding Stone
 A short spur trail called Whispering Ben led us out to a large rock that was used as a grinding stone by the ancients.

Grinding Stone

Approaching the Mormon Cabin Display
 A Mormon cabin display came next. We peered into the windows where there were objects set up to look like someone would be home from the fields any minute. After this, we went back up the little hill to a grouping of picnic tables. A woman was standing there with a telescope pointed at a horned owl, her nest and two baby furry owls who the woman said were only 3 days old. We each took our turn at the telescope and those babies were soooo cute!

Mummy Mountain from the Birdsong Loop
 Next, we connected with the Birdsong Loop. This is the longest section of the nature trails. It is also the most exposed to the sun.

Hiking the Birdsong Loop

Sherry Passes Through an Old Gate
 We enjoyed the loop through the desert noting many different kinds of birds flitting about. Then, we came to the spring and pond section. There really is quite a lot of water flowing from the spring here. We commented that the sound of the stream was akin to a "bubbling brook." Just before we finished our short hike, we saw two snowy egrets bathing in the stream. We all decided that this was definitely worth the small drive out for a visit!

Update: The center is closed on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Other days, it is open 8 to 4:30.

2 miles; 150 feet elevation gain; 2 hours

Trail Signs & Statue of Coyote

Snowy Egret Enjoying the Refuge

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