Monday, June 15, 2015

Cathedral Rock with Little Falls and the Manhole Cover from Echo Trailhead - 6/15/15

A Few Benches Dot the Cathedral Rock Trail

Little Falls

Bolted Down Manhole Cover

Cathedral Rock from Echo Trailhead
 Yea!! The Rock is open and ready for business! Nine hikers took the whole tour this morning starting at the Echo Trailhead located on Echo Way off of Kyle Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA. First on the agenda was "the cleaning of the shoes!" Yep. They have a shoe cleaner set up at the beginning of the trail here so that us hikers can de-seed our treads. Okay. Then we started up the trail which has been slightly realigned to take advantage of the easy slope of the old road that leads up into the canyons.

Clean Your Shoes before you Hike!
 Off to the left of the old road trail, there is a great view of the Echo residential community and the rocky peaks of the southern terminus of Cockscomb Ridge.

Cockscomb Ridge ends above the Echo Community
 Continuing up the trail, we came to a fork with a confusing sign that said the trail went both ways. Knowing a little bit about where we were, we took the left fork. The right fork heads up into yucky terrain; a difficult way to get to the top of Little Falls.

Hiking the Echo Trail

Approaching Little Falls
 Echo Trail soon junctioned with the Little Falls Trail that turns up to the right and follows along a large wash. Finally, heading into a canyon crevice, the trail climbs a short way up the wash and comes to a waterfall. Today, there was only a trickle of water coming down the bottom level of the falls. This is also a place where graffiti always gets the better of the park rangers who have much more important things to do than clean off juveniles' destruction.

Ruins Above the Old Cathedral Rock Trailhead Area
 We took a small break at Little Falls then headed back down the way we came. At the Echo Trail junction, we went straight and made our way to the area where the old Cathedral Rock Trail began.

Hiking the Old Cathedral Rock Trail (new Echo Trail)
 The Echo Trail bypasses the lower area where the steps used to be and crosses a little higher up. Then the trail continues over toward the new Cathedral Rock trailhead parking using the newer connector trail instead of the old one. In fact, the old (shorter) connector trail has been obliterated.

Trail Junction Sign between Echo Trail and Cathedral Rock Trail

Cathedral Rock Trail at Echo Cliffs Above
 The Echo Trail (new name for first part of old Cathedral Rock Trail) junctions with the new Cathedral Rock Trail 1.2 miles below the top of the rock. (Are you getting all of this?) So, here, we turned to our right and began a tough climb on this warm day. The blue lupines were blooming as we hiked through the 2005 Avalanche Area of young aspens. The impressive Echo Cliffs rose steeply up in front of us but Cathedral Rock could also be seen with a slightly less aggressive profile on our right side. The 2013 fire did not reach this trail area at all so everything was green. The firemen did a great job deflecting the path of the fire from the homes below. When we reached the last switchback in the aspens, there was a trail to Echo Falls that turned to the left.

Checking Out Echo Falls
 We followed the short trail over to the cliff type falls that appear very similar to Little Falls. A couple of hikers climbed the hill next to the falls to peer down into the second level "pool" level. "Dry as a bone," they said.

Echo Falls
 We took a slightly longer break here as the climb in the humid heat was taking its toll on almost all of us.

Small Break at Echo Falls

Mummy Mountain from Echo Falls
From there, we continued our climb a little further then, finally, found the "sweet spot" of the trail, a wide flattish area that circles around to start the climb up the back side of the rock. We had to climb over a fallen tree but the change in slope was very welcome. We all took advantage of the easier terrain resting for the final rock assault!

An Old Tree Hits the Trail
 The trail narrows as it dips down to cross the saddle then starts a short switchbacked climb up to the top of the rock.

Highlights Climbing the Back Side of Cathedral Rock
 Although the views had already been very impressive, they only improved once we summited. We sat on rocks at the top of the cliff and took our big break sharing the Rock with no one.

Kyle Canyon View from the Cathedral Rock Overlook

Pleasant Trail out to the Manhole Cover
We took the small peak circle trail after the windy break and descended down to the saddle. Taking a right, we added a pleasant mile out and back to the manhole cover which is now bolted down. No more peeking into the water works of the town below. From here, it was a straight shot return down to Echo Trail and back over to the cars passing Laszlo and family on our way! This is a great hike that can also easily be done in pieces. Nice to be back.

6 miles; 1525 feet elevation gain; 3.5 hours

Leaving the Manhole Cover

Re-connecting with the Cathedral Rock Trail

Meeting Familiar Friendly Faces on the Trail

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