Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Cactus Garden Loop - 4/20/14

Arch Located Below the Cactus Garden

The Red Rock Canyon NCA Escarpment from Cactus Garden

Easter Sunday! And, I know that many of the thirteen hikers today enjoyed spending their time of worship on God's planet hiking an 8 mile loop in a desert filled with blooming spring flowers. We parked at the bikers' trailhead on Highway 160 a couple of miles west of the Hwy 159/160 junction. This is a new trailhead for the club and we found a whole new area of trails to hike today. After finding the access gate through the burro fence in the wash below the cars, we began hiking in a westward direction.
Trail Down Gulley Toward Blue Diamond Hills

Mt. Potosi from Landmine Loop Crossing
 After making two turns (right and left) at trail junctions, we started hiking up into the southernmost hills. We found the trail to be interesting and fun. There were a lot of switchbacks and a limestone wash. At the top of the hill, we veered to the right and took the trail that followed a gulley down. At the bottom, we saw two different groups of bikers moving along the bike trails that we shared. (Nice to see everyone that attends our "church.")

LPFs and a "Blooming" Barrel Cactus

 A jog to the left then a jog to the right brought us to a trail that climbs up to the base of the hills we faced. Then we proceeded to follow along the hills in a northwestward direction. Three and a half miles into the hike and we finally faced the most serious elevation gain of the day. We turned right onto the trail that climbs to the saddle above. We had a strong group of hikers and the hill was tough but we made it up soon enough. Just before reaching the top, we noticed a nice limestone arch to the left as seen in the first photo of this entry.

Climbing Up to Saddle Below Cactus Garden

We climbed on up to the cactus garden area and sat for our snack break. A few of us explored the area around where there were many large red barrel cacti and jumbles of limestone rock. Across the way, the escarpment rose up to the sky. This is a very pretty area.

After the break, we continued the loop by hiking the ridge trail that begins at the nearby saddle. This is a nice connector trail that leads to several other bike trails immediately behind the Blue Diamond community.

Cactus Garden

Dropping Down to the Landmine Loop
 At the bike trails, we turned right and dropped to a saddle area. Here, Dave showed us where to connect with the zigzag trail that drops steeply down to the Landmine Loop where we turned left. The loop trail took us to the large wash and we crossed it to continue via the trail on which we had begun. Let's call this trail the Easter Trail!

8 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Hiking Back on the Landmine Loop

Crossing the Black Velvet Wash

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