Sunday, November 23, 2014

Landmine Loop Variation - 11/23/14

Happy Rock on Landmine Loop

Spanish Trail Marker

The Landmine Loop Variation is a great "walk in the park." It is a slight variation of the eight mile loop used by bicyclists that encircles the hills behind the little community of Blue Diamond, Nevada. The difference in the loop of today and the official Landmine Loop includes a parallel trail that takes hikers up into the low foothills. (And, today, a slight change near the beginning of the loop on an alternate trail that made little difference in length.)

Still Warming Up
 The trail is located on land of the Red Rock Canyon NCA and we began from the dirt parking lot on the right side of the road after the bridge leading into Blue Diamond. To reach the trail, we walked through the community until we reached the upper back side of it.

Black Velvet Wash Limestone Crossing

 The first section of the trail is part of the old Spanish Trail that was used from 1829 to 1848 to travel between Santa Fe, NM and Los Angeles, CA. After rounding the corners near Highway 160, our route left the Spanish Trail and stayed closer to the hills. We took a slightly different detour today. But we had the Landmine Loop in our sights. At the Black Velvet wash crossing, we joined the originally scheduled route! There are many bike trails in this area.

Escarpment from Landmine Loop
 We followed the Landmine Loop at the base of the hills until we junctioned with a trail that turned us up to the right. This is when we deviated from the mother trail as we headed up to the foothills.

Limestone and Cactus

 We started hiking among limestone conglomerate boulders. These hills were made when the limestone of the Keystone Thrust (Red Rock Canyon escarpment) pushed over landslides. The land between the escarpment and the Blue Diamond hills eroded away over time and we hiked through what is now standing there; large sharp conglomerate boulders made of limestone decorated with red barrel cacti, Mojave yuccas and creosote bushes.

Nearing the Break Point
 We made a left and a right at the trail that leads up the side of the hill, staying down below. Soon, we came to a small fork in the trail. Taking the right fork led us to our snack rock. It offers shade, sunshine, seating and wind block (especially important today).

Landmine Loop and Oliver Ranch Fence

 After our break, we hiked around the high corner junctioning with the Landmine Loop again. We visited the old DeSoto (1940 or 1941). Then, we hiked through a very pleasant section of trail that used to be part of the Oliver Ranch. (Even though we hunted, we never found a single burro in our midst.) The Landmine Loop led us above the fenced in Bird Sanctuary then returned us to our cars. The hike was a great way to start our morning.

8 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Circling Through the Old Ranch Land

Bird Sanctuary from Landmine Loop

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