Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lee Canyon / Sawmill Wiggles Loop - 9/27/14

Dropping Down into Lee Canyon at Trailhead

Entering Lee Canyon Narrows

Gentle Drop into Lee Canyon
 There was a ton of rain that fell all over Las Vegas and the surrounding mountains, lakes and desert yesterday. Then, just in time for this morning's hike to begin, the clouds cleared out leaving a wonderfully refreshing day just waiting to be enjoyed. Eleven hikers showed up for the first hike of the day and we traveled up Lee Canyon Road 10.5 miles to the chain-link fence trailhead. (...We need another name for this spot!...) Nothing but a few wispy clouds marred the blue skies above.

Nice Lee Canyon Trail
 We dropped down into Lee Canyon on the equestrian trail behind the fence cubicle. It is an easy diagonal descent. The trail leads up canyon for a little ways before crossing the drainage marked by huge cairns. The huge cairns are sort of the mascots of the canyon trail!

Wild Horses on Lee Canyon's West Side

"Holy Moly! It's Godzilla!"
 After crossing the wash this first time, we came to a trail junction where we turned to the right and began following a new well-made trail up canyon. When we found this trail last spring, the trail was only completed about half way up to the narrows. Today, it was a wonderful surprise to find that the trail was finished! It is easy to follow and made wide for horse travel. Kudos to whoever is responsible for this new and beautiful fun trail!

Original Large Rock Cairns
 We enjoyed a moderate to quick pace up the great trail. No longer losing our way in the washes. Nearing the Lee Canyon narrows, we passed the old original rock cairns seen in the photo above still supporting the sign that once read, "Mark's Piece of Cake." (Whatever that refers to ....)

The Upstream Entrance to the Lee Canyon Narrows (not advised!)

Climbing Back to Trail from the Narrows
 We had several hikers who had never seen the narrows so we took a side trip up into the rock walls. At the top end of the narrows, we saw that someone had, again, placed a log in the entrance crack. ... Nope, still would not recommend it! ... After inspecting the area, we scrambled up the side of the hill to return to the trail that leads up and around the narrows. Soon, we were passing through the antique car museum.

The Packard
 Last spring, the old Packard was sitting on its roof. It has been returned to it rightful alignment! Rusted cans still hang from the tree nearby. Thanks for restoring our entertainment to whoever managed to turn the car right side up!

Antique Car in Lee Canyon Drainage

View Down Lee Canyon from Trail Out
 After the Packard, we dropped into the wash to inspect the other antique car that is half filled with wash debris. Then, from there, we climbed back up to the trail and noted the car that is almost completely buried with the "actual chrome bumper" sticking out. The trail that leads out of the canyon starts there and we turned right to begin climbing. A nice view down canyon can be seen from the trail.

Odd Trail Decor - Climbing Out of Lee Canyon
 Near the top of the canyon, we passed an old galvanized trash can. They don't make them like that any more! It was rather odd to see it there!

Junctioning with Cardamine Road

Does anyone need a futon?
We crossed Lee Canyon Road and bushwacked straight over to Cardamine Road, a dirt road below Sawmill Picnic Area. We turned left on the road and entered the picnic area from the bottom end. At the top end, we sat at two of the tables to take our break near the restrooms. Someone had placed an old futon next to the garbage bin. If you want it, you better hurry! Not sure when the next garbage pick up is but the service around here is exemplary and the futon will not be there afterwards.

Hiking the Sawmill Trail through the Woods
 After a nice break, we started up the Sawmill Trail hiking through the pinion pines. There were pinion pine cones all over the trail and we assumed that the chipmunks or whatever were packing the pine nuts for the winter months. Juniper berries were out in abundance as well.

Views from the Sawmill Trail Ridge

Hiking Down to the Wiggles Trail Junction
We climbed up to the Sawmill Ridge and enjoyed the vast views of surrounding mountains and desert. High clouds were being blown across the sky above. Once in a while a gust of wind would cool us off, but, weather-wise, we were happy as clams! We began dropping down on the other end of the ridge and noted that someone is trying to route hikers on the yellow trail to the right. This will take you back to the picnic area parking lot. But, we stepped over the trail marker and took the left blue trail junction. This is the beginning of the Sawmill Wiggles Trail.

Desert Views from the Sawmill Wiggles Trail
 The Sawmill Wiggles Trail is a gentle trail through the woods and high desert that twists around along a descending ridge. Lee Canyon Road comes into view about half way down to the bottom.

Hiking Down the Sawmill Wiggles Trail

Bushwacking over to Lee Canyon Road
 At the bottom of the trail, you cross a steep dirt road and follow the trail down to a wash/road/trail junction. From here, we angled to our one o'clock direction and bushwacked up to Lee Canyon Road to cross the pavement. We connected with the old Lee Canyon dirt road that parallels the pavement, leads through a few campsites and down to the trailhead. The hike was thoroughly enjoyed by all the participants. A great way to log a beautiful 8 miles.

8 miles; 1450 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Old Lee Canyon Dirt Road

Arriving Back at the Trailhead

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