Monday, February 16, 2015

West Leg / Caldera / East Leg (Bootleg Bike Trails) - 2/16/15

Shortcut Wash

West Leg Trail

Starting Up West Leg Trail

Warming Up on the West Leg
 Bootleg Canyon Bike Trails is a park found in Boulder City, NV. It is the home of a long zip line and the base of this zip line is where thirteen hikers parked to begin our hike. We hiked up the dirt road a little way then took the first opportunity to junction with a trail on the left side. This is the beginning of the Mother Trail. Very soon, there is signed trail junction for the West Leg and we turned right. A small switchbacked climb took us up to a trail that runs laterally along the hillside.

West Leg Trail
 We passed the Connector junction and took the left fork where Girl Scout Trail splits off to stay on the West Leg.

West Leg Trail

Nearing the Wash Trail Junction
 The West Leg travels in and out along the contour of the hills to our left. We could see the last half mile of the trail in front of us when we passed a short trail up to a park bench. Around this corner, we junctioned with a wash that we hoped had a trail up. So, we turned left into the wash and found the climb up easily hiked. There was a small trail that we used at the end when we climbed over a little ridge and dropped down to a saddle.

Climbing the Wash Trail
 After all the trail of the West Leg, we enjoyed the somewhat rocky climb in the small wash. Now we looked down to our left and saw a distant view of Henderson and Las Vegas, NV.

Saddle View at Top of Shortcut Wash

Dropping into the Shortcut Wash
 We took a short water break on this perfect weather day and started dropping toward that view. This is the beginning of the Shortcut Wash that would take us through the hills to the Caldera Loop on the other side. The wash was gentle and colorful. At one point, we stopped to take a look up. And, there he was! A large ram bighorn high on the hill to our right. Very exciting! We watched him for a moment then proceeded down toward a wash junction.

Shortcut Wash
 At the wash junction, the coordinator du jour began another one of her "orientation" monologues. Pointing up in a particular direction, she heard cries from the rest of the hikers! They were all looking in that direction but they were seeing bighorns!

Play "Find the Bighorns!"
 We stood here for a couple of minutes while watching three bighorns make their way down to the wash at our right one by one. We could hear them knock the rocks down underfoot. Why is it always so exciting to see these amazing animals doing their thing?

Following the Same Bighorn Down the Slope

Colors at the Wash Junction
 After the show, we turned to our right to continue our Shortcut Wash. Hoping that there were no big drops in the wash, we bravely started down. This part of the hike was new. We encountered a bit of brush but it really wasn't bad and, other than that, the wash was clear sailing as it zigzagged gently down in deep loose gravel. Up to our right, we saw the group of bighorns peering down from the ridge. One more photo and we continued on our way.

Hiking Out the Shortcut Wash
 As we neared the bottom of the Shortcut Wash, we got a great view of the Las Vegas Strip. Then we junctioned with a small trail running left to right in our path. We had found the Caldera Loop!

Junctioning with the Caldera Loop
 We turned to our right and began hiking along the very clear bike trail. The landscape opened up around us. We were nearing an area that hikers and bikers call the "caldera."

Approaching the Low Point

No Shade near the Low Point
 If you think of the word "caldera" literally, it means a bowl. This area is somewhat like a bowl with one open end. We all agreed that it is slightly possible that the area could have been a volcanic caldera many eons ago but, presently, it is just a huge bowl-like open area. At any rate, it is affectionately called The Caldera. The section of the Caldera Loop that we were now hiking was the Low Point of our route today.

Taking a Break at a Wide Wash
 There was no shade to be found on this trail so we opted for rocks and a view for our snack spot location. We found them near a wide wash crossing.

Gaining Elevation on the Outer Caldera

Red Rock Canyon NCA beyond the Las Vegas Strip
 After our break, we began our second climb of the 2-High Point Day. Staying on the Outer Caldera trail, we climbed and climbed. First on a small ridge then on another lateral contour trail. To our left, we could see the Inner Caldera trail paralleling us on a lower elevation. Further to our left, we could see River Mountain rising above the other peaks of the River Mountain Range. Finally, we perched on top of a Little Peak and dropped down the other side. We were at a big trails junction. There are at least 8 trails that come together at this point.

Still Gaining
 A tall trail junction sign points out four of the trails. We crossed the large open dirt road area, climbed up the road a tad, then turned to our right onto the East Leg.

Nearing the Secondary High Point with River Mountain in the Background

Cresting the Little Peak
 The East Leg is very colorful as it circles around the base of Red Mountain below the radio transmission tower. We enjoyed this section of the hike while pointing out the bike ramps and cross trails. Near the end, we could see the cars and made our way down a maze of trails toward them. Fun trail hike with a little exploratory fun thrown in. New stuff and new views!

7 miles; 1100 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Tall Trails Sign ("Outer Caldera" faces away from Camera)

Leaving Power Pole Junction on the East Leg

Enjoying the Cool Down on the East Leg

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