Saturday, December 6, 2014

Historic Railroad Tunnels, Hoover Dam & O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge - 12/6/14

One of Five Historic Railroad Tunnels

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam & Bridge Peak framed by O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge

 We were all in good spirits as sixteen hikers set out for a 9-mile trek through the Historic Railroad Tunnels, over and back Hoover Dam and, over and back the O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge. The trailhead is located in the Lake Mead NRA near the Alan Bible Visitor Center off of Highway 93. We started out on the tunnels trail which was used for the railroad that carried workers and equipment to and from the dam construction site out of Boulder City, Nevada back in the early 1930's.

Beautiful Morning on the Railroad Trail
 The flat trail no longer has its rails and is easy walking along Lake Mead above the marina below.

Morning Fog over Lake Mead

 Five huge tunnels were dug through the mountains between Boulder City and the Black Canyon that now holds Hoover Dam. Each tunnel is not long in length and we exited the fifth tunnel after around 2.5 miles. The morning fog over Lake Mead and the Muddy Mountains beyond gave the view an eerie feeling. We made quick work of the two miles and stopped at the restrooms located at the end of the fifth tunnel.

Tunnel Number Three
 The brittle bushes and creosote were very green after the recent rains and a few of them were blooming ... in December!

Brittle Bush in Bloom

 After our break at the restroom, we hiked on up and down along the old train path then turned left into the bone yard area where old dam parts are put to rest. There is also a large helipad located here. We hiked around the bone yard and dropped down to the grid area. The route goes right between two huge electric grids that emanate from the dam.

Heading Towards the Bone Yard
 All around us, there are signs saying to stay on the trail. We could almost feel the unseen watchful eyes of security personnel located ... just about everywhere.


After hiking through the grids, we dropped down the ramp to the upper (5th floor) parking deck and walked across to the elevators and steps. Most of us took the steps down to the dam level. Here, we walked across the dam and back taking in all the views and information signs. Some interpretive work was being done by our coordinator du jour, Chris. All the photo views of the bridge were taken either from the dam or the parking deck.

Bridge from Parking Deck
 Sugarloaf Mountain rose up on the Arizona side of the bridge. On our way back to the steps and elevator, we were sure to rub the feet of the winged statues for good luck at the slots.

Rub Feet for Good Luck

 Next, we hiked over to the bridge parking lot where we took our break at the bottom of the steps. There was limited seating as you can see in the photo to the left. Another restroom break and we were ready to climb up to the bridge walkway. We could either use the steps or the ramp. On the walkway, we hiked all the way over to Arizona and back while reading all the information signs that we wanted.

Steps ...
 There are a lot of signs talking about the construction of the bridge, etc. and why the bridge was named for Mike O'Callaghan and Pat Tillman, both being favorite sons of either Nevada or Arizona.

Or Ramp

 Back in Nevada, we crossed back over to the tunnel trail and returned through the tunnels. The fog over the lake had lifted and there was a totally different look to the view. We strongly finished the hike leaving all our energy out there on the trails.

9 miles; around 1000 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

The Bridge Hike

Return Hike

Lake Mead & Muddy Mountains

No comments: