Sunday, February 1, 2015

Cottonwood Pass Loop via Satan's Escalator - 2/1/15

Cottonwood Valley

Mt. Potosi from Satan's Escalator Trail

Hiking Out Toward Mt. Potosi

Bird Spring Range
 Super Bowl Sunday! And, fifteen hikers showed up for a moderate seven mile hike in south Cottonwood Valley. Our loop would hike up to a ridge via the Satan's Escalator Trail then drop down to cross over Cottonwood Pass. The bike/hike trails that we used today were located near the base of Mt. Potosi with beautiful views of Cottonwood Valley, Mt. Potosi and the Bird Spring Range.

Junctioning with the First Trail
 We used the trailhead parking lot that is normally used for the Badger Pass & Bird Spring Range hikes. To get there, turn south onto a dirt road (not far past the Late Night Trailhead on the north side) from Highway 160 in the Red Rock Canyon NCA. There is a pit toilet located near where you turn off of the highway.

Dropping Down on the Trail

4WD Road into a Canyon of Mt. Potosi
 Today's trailhead is located around half a mile on out the dirt road on the left hand side. From there, we began our hike on the south side of the parking area and headed up toward Mt. Potosi on a small dirt road. About 0.7 miles up the road, we turned left on a marked trail. The sign reads, "Dead Horse Loop - 1 1/2 miles." The trail dropped down then returned to ascending toward the base of Mt. Potosi.

Crossing the Desert on Trail
 The next trail junction started our trek in a downward direction away from the 8500' mountain. We continued down until we hit another trail junction.

Red Colors

Another 4WD Road into a Canyon of Mt. Potosi
 This trail junction started us up again and soon we were crossing a wide limestone wash and climbing a short distance on a 4WD high clearance dirt road. We could see cars parked in the canyon ahead of us. We guessed they were there to shoot guns and target practice. This was confirmed later on during our snack break.

Road before Satan's Escalator Trail
A sharp turn to our left brought us to the trail junction for Satan's Escalator Trail. There is a sign post here and we turned to our right to begin a series of switchbacks up to a ridge.

Switchbacking on Satan's Escalator Trail

Found on Hill of Satan's Escalator Trail
 We made quick work of the hill and arrived on the ridge for our break. A short climb up to the nearby red hill gave a vast view of Cottonwood Valley, Mt. Potosi and a sneak peek of the snow-capped Griffith Peak. The desert was gorgeous today! So, after our break, we dropped over the other side of the ridge on a dirt road and connected with the Cottonwood Valley dirt road. We swung around the end of the middle ridge and followed a trail to Cottonwood Pass.

Cottonwood Valley View from Ridge
 Cottonwood Pass is an area where an old wooden sign post, with nothing on it, sticks out of the ground. There is a parking area in which there were two trucks parked. And, a road leads up to the saddle area where there used to be a car stuck in the rocks over the cliff.

Dropping Down from Ridge

Dead Horse Trail in Red Valley
 This sign post represents the beginning of Red Valley or the Dead Horse Trail that runs through it. This is a colorful trail through the red canyon valley that brings hikers past the Badger Pass trail junction. We hiked all the way through the valley and out the other side where our cars were waiting. Now ... pass the wine and brie. It's time for the big game!

7 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Red Valley from Cottonwood Pass

Dead Horse Trail

Returning to Trailhead

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