Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Echo Canyon / Fossil Ridge (with Bunny Trail) - 12/24/14

Fossil Ridge Trail

Getting Ready for a Ride

 Everyone was in high spirits today as fifteen hikers showed up for a Merry Christmas Eve hike in the North Blue Diamond Hills of Red Rock Canyon NCA. We started at the Cowboy Trails parking lot and headed up to the upper stables where there were several horses being readied for their day's work. The guard dogs were also out doing their job!

Dropping into Echo Canyon
 The Echo Canyon trail is found by dropping down behind the stables and climbing up to the two canyons beyond. Echo is the one on the right and soon, we found the trail that dips down into it.

Echo Canyon

 We hiked at a moderate pace as we climbed up the initial hill. Once we were up the first hill, moderate scrambling began. Not sure what the guys in the photo to the right were laughing at but perhaps we should say "bless you" to Sylvie! The weather was cool but there was no wind. The really bad weather comes in tonight in the form of high winds and rain or snow.

Stepping Up
 Echo Canyon offers a decent trail for the most part. We stayed in the wash as much as we could. A couple of times, we needed to climb up to our left to circle around tough obstacles.

Two Particularly Nice Echo Canyon Fossils

 Throughout the North Blue Diamond Hills, hikers can find many Pre-Cambrian (or seabed) fossils. There are a couple of very nice fossils found in the scramble shown at left. The top photo shows what we found on the wall that you climb up and on the wall that you pass by at the top in this location. We found many other fossils here and there in the limestone underfoot and the conglomerate limestone that we passed by.

Climbing Up through the Canyon
 About three-quarters of the way up the canyon, we junctioned with a trail. Turn right and you are on the Fossil Ridge Trail. Turn left, as we did, and you continue up to the top of Echo Canyon where we ate our snack.

Nearing the Top of Echo Canyon

 After the break, we turned right and right again to junction with what is known as the Bunny Trail. This trail is a surface trail that parallels the Fossil Ridge Trail. Around a half mile down the Bunny Trail, there is a trail junction that takes a very sharp turn to the right. This connector trail takes you down to the Fossil Ridge Trail at a very photogenic area above Echo Canyon. We turned left onto that trail and enjoyed a hike down to the next junction.

Hiking Down the Bunny Trail
 This part of the Fossil Ridge Trail is bordered with dark colored conglomerate rock with a far view of the Calico Hills. See the first photo of the entry.

Junctioning with Fossil Ridge Trail

 At the next junction, we opted to take another left turn to connect again with the more gentle Bunny Trail to return to the cars. Two of our hikers chose to turn right and take the steeper Fossil Ridge Trail down. We got to the cars first even though our route was slightly longer than theirs. Extremely pleasant hike today.

5 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Fossil Ridge Trail

Back on the Bunny Trail

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