Saturday, April 4, 2015

Calico I / Moenkopi Loop - 4/4/15

Wilson Peak from Moenkopi Trail

Calico Hills from Grand Circle Trail

Starting Hike from the Red Rock Visitors' Center

Search and Rescue Crew
 The Calico I / Moenkopi Loop is a nice 4 mile route for leisurely hikers. Today, we had thirteen leisurely hikers who began at the lower parking lot of the Red Rock Canyon NCA Visitor Center. The start time was around 8:50am but the park was already very busy on this holiday weekend. We had to wait in line to get through the fee booth! ... Unusual for this early hour. At any rate, the weather was cool and perfect so it stands to reason that "everybody" would want to enjoy Red Rock today.

Calico Sandstone from the Calico I Overlook
 The first leg of the hike took us from the lower parking lot down to the fee booth and up to Calico I turnout on the Grand Circle Trail. The wildflowers were coloring the desert terrain.

Climbing Back Up from the Overlook

Connecting with the Moenkopi Loop
 When we reached Calico I, most of us dropped down to the overlook and took in the view. There was a large group of search and rescue men practicing their climbing skills down below and tourists were everywhere! We climbed back up the hill then crossed the road to connect with a trail that would take us over to the Moenkopi Loop. This second leg of our hike took us between Calico I and the top of the Moenkopi Hill where we had our snack at the overlook.

North Blue Diamond Hills from the Moenkopi Trail
 This overlook puts you right in the middle of the alluvial fan floor of Red Rock. To one side is the escarpment. To the other side are the Calico Hills. And, in front of us, we saw the North Blue Diamond Hills beyond the Visitor Center.

Taking a Break at the Moenkopi Hill Overlook

Cotton Bloom on Barrel Cactus
 The third leg of the hike began after the break when we dropped down the other side of the hill and circled around to the right. It was here that we found a small tortoise! We all got a good look but were careful not to get too close. From there, we continued on the Moenkopi Loop back to the cars. We enjoyed this version of the hike because we didn't have to walk too far on the rocky Grand Circle Trail below the Moenkopi Hill. Good morning.

4 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 2.25 hours

Hiking Down the Moenkopi Rock Layer

Baby Tortoise (approx. 5" x 4")

Looping Around the Hill

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