Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cowboy Horse Trails - 10/31/15

Turtlehead from Horse Trail Peak

Lost Horseshoe

The Muffins above Horse Trails

Twenty-One Hikers
 Red Rock Canyon NCA has horse stables at the foot of the North Blue Diamond Hills on Highway 159. The wranglers lead horse rides, here, of various lengths. One of the more popular routes is a short circle around the foothills that includes a small hill. This was our route today. Twenty-one hikers gathered at a crowded Cowboy Trails parking lot to begin their hike. (There was another hiking group who started out of this trailhead as well. And, mountain bikers were out in full force today.)

I've always been a blonde.
 After passing through the gate, we took an immediate left onto a well worn horse trail that forks off to the right toward the horse corral. There were several requests to see the Clydesdale horse.

Climbing Up the South End of the Hill
 We saw the horse but he wasn't in much of a mood to be photographed. Instead, the blond posed for the camera!

Traversing the Hill

View of Our Route Below from North End of the Hill
We clumsily found the trail that takes you up the hill between the corral and the highway. This trail is not maintained and is always difficult to find. But, once we were on top of the low end of the hill, the trail became very clear and we hiked from the low end to the high end stopping for views along the way. At the peak of the hill, Horse Trail Peak, we stopped for a view on the horse train turnaround. Then, we began our long descent on the rocky trail that the horses use regularly. There are a few steps built into the trail here.

High Stepping the Downhill
 Watching our footing was necessary on the downhill as it is very uneven. When we did look up, we could see the Calico Hills and the Red Rock escarpment in a wide view.

Calico Hills from our Trail Down from the Peak
 At the bottom of the hill, we turned to the right and, soon, dropped down into the gravel wash that encircles the hill. The horse trail continues through the gravel.

Working Out in the Gravel Wash

Back on the Sandy Trail
 The gravel wash gave us a workout and just when we were about tired of the difficult terrain, we rounded the hill and followed the trail up onto the dirt to our right. At the next junction, we forked to the left and followed the trail through a very sandy area then into the wash that flows down from Skull Canyon. The horse trail continues up through the wash providing relatively easy footing. Not far up the wash, we found an area where there were a lot of big rocks to sit on. Here's where we took our break.

Wilson Peak from the Horse Trails
 The foliage between the hill and the wash was medium in height. The weather was cool on the warmish side; warmer than we had anticipated.

Starting into the Skull Canyon Wash
 After our break, we continued up the wash until we junctioned with the Muffins trail at the base of Skull Canyon. At the right turn, we waited while we watched a biker make his way down the Muffins trail and pass us.

Snack Break in the Wash

Skull Canyon Wash
 Now on the surface trails, we circled around Boneshaker Hill then forked to the right on the second turn. This small trail brought us just below the upper stables. From here, we took the trail down to the parking lot. This is a nice short hike with great views of the Red Rock area. It also provides a small amount of several varying terrains.

3 miles; 450 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Nearing the Top of Skull Canyon Wash

Snaking Our Way across the Surface Trails

Home Stretch

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