Monday, May 4, 2015

Cottonwood Valley Loop - 5/4/15

Morning Shadows on the Wilson Cliffs

Blooming Winterfat

 Red Rock Canyon NCA offers many mountain biking trails and one system of those trails is called Cottonwood Valley. The Cottonwood Valley Trail System consists of three trailheads: the Cottonwood Valley TH; the rarely used Bonnie & Clyde TH; and the popular Late Night TH where twelve hikers began today. This paved trailhead is located on the north side of Highway 160 just east of the Wilson Cliffs Red Rock escarpment. Just behind the trailhead parking area is a hill named Mustang Hill. We started hiking on the east side of this hill where the large sign in the photo to the left is located.

Starting Out the Late Night Trail
 The first trail junction we came to offered us a turn onto the Rubber Ducky and/or Spanish Trails. We continued straight to parallel the Rubber Ducky Trail wash and circled around the hill to our right.

Large Cairn Marking Large Wash Crossing

 After crossing a large wash (complete with large cairns), we continued circling around to our right until we reached a junction with the Landmine Loop. Here, we turned left onto the major perimeter trail that circles around the Blue Diamond tertiary ridge. We began climbing at a pace of around 2.4 miles per hour. We wanted to complete today's 8 mile hike before rain came that was scheduled for 11am. As we hiked, we enjoyed watching the clouds blow in from the nearby Spring Mountains.

Hiking on the Landmine Loop with Mt. Potosi in Background
 Reaching a trail the bikers call Hurl Trail, we turned right. This trail parallels the Landmine Loop albeit at a higher elevation with more ups and downs.

Hiking the Hurl Trail

 At Dave's Driveway Trail, we turned left and hiked down to junction with the Landmine Loop again and took our break. The wind was beginning to pick up a little so off we went again, down the Daytona Trail. (There are a few small wooden signs to clue hikers and bikers in on exactly which trail is which.) The Daytona Trail started us heading back toward Mustang Hill and soon crossed the Black Velvet dirt road.

Desert Milkweed
 Next, we hiked through an area that volunteers are trying to revive. It would be in all our best interest if everyone would stay on the trails and not cut through the desert terrain. (Burros and jackrabbits excluded.)

Be Verwy Verwy Quiet

 We paralleled the Wilson Cliffs Red Rock escarpment all the way back to Mustang Hill on trails we have used in the past to places such as Black Velvet Canyon and Lone Grapevine Spring. It seemed that very suddenly the sky on our end of Cottonwood Valley was swimming in clouds. After all, the air was quite humid today. Therefore, when we hiked into the parking lot at 10:45am, we were happy that we pushed the pace and did not have to worry about getting wet! Wonderful day to share with the bikers!

8 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

Passing Windy Peak on the Return

Blooming Cholla

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