Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Conglomerate Gardens - 12/16/15

From Conglomerate Gardens to Calico Hills

Conglomerate Gardens

View South to Mt. Potosi

Starting Up the Bunny Trail
 A year or two ago, some of the mountain bikers of Red Rock Canyon NCA made a new trail in the North Blue Diamond Hills. They call it Kibbles 'n' Bits! Well, when we discovered the trail as hikers, we decided to name the beautiful loop trail Conglomerate Gardens because of the abundance of stacked boulders made of conglomerate rock and the untouched display of healthy desert plants among them. Today, twenty-one hikers hiked the 6.5 miles and thought that, perhaps, "Rabbit Gardens" might be another good name!

Conglomerate Boulders
 We started out from the Cowboy Trails parking lot on the Bunny Trail that leads to the right after passing through the gate. The climb was gentle for the first mile until we reached the junction with the Cat 'n' Hat Trail where we forked right.

Fat and Happy Barrel Cacti
 Another mile on the Cat 'n' Hat Trail was a steeper climb. We forked right each time we were given a choice. At the high point, we turned right onto the Conglomerate Gardens Trail marked with white rocks and cairns.

Precambrian Fossils in Limestone

Cat 'n' Hat Junction with Conglomerate Gardens Trail
 The turn onto this trail marked the beginning of the four mile winding downhill journey much akin to a roller coaster after breaching the top of that first big hill. After a brief stay on the gypsum mine property, we returned through the RRCNCA boundary. A few initial hairpins and curves brought us to a wall of limestone rock that had many precambrian shellfish fossils embedded in it. As we wound our way down into a swale, we began a small uphill climb into a jungle of huge conglomerate boulders; a very picturesque area where we took our snack break.

Conglomerate Filled Wash
 In the crack under one of the boulders, someone has shoved a stuffed mountain lion! A tiger and a small panda bear are also represented. Too cute! (See a photo below.)

Hiking Up to the Snack Stop
 At the end of the break, we continued down the trail. Early on, we were challenged not to cut any of the trails even though many of the curves and switchbacks could easily be cut across.

Hanging Out with the Boulders

Mountain Lion Den (and tiger and panda bear)
 From beginning to end today, we followed each other like a long hiker train. We enjoyed the path that the bikers had laid out. It must be very challenging (read fun) for the bikers to ride the boulders in many areas. The trail wound down adjacent to a wash and high ridge then climbed back up to go through some old mine remnants. With around 1.5 miles to go, we passed a small group of hikers from the Lone Mountain Hiking Club coming from the other direction. "Howdys" were exchanged and on we went.

Desert Garden
 Throughout the hike, we must have scared up around twenty or thirty cottontails and jackrabbits! They were everywhere!

Conglomerate Monoliths
 But the icing on the cake was the large buck that we came pretty close to before he decided he better get going. The whole group was able to watch him as he ambled up the hill away from us with his lopsided antler thing going on on top of his head.

Large Buck with One Broken Antler

Winding Down the Conglomerate Gardens Trail
 Finally, we saw the cars in the distance. Good thing because some of us were getting dizzy! A few more curves and a straightaway ensued. Down to a gravel wash for a few feet then back up on the trail and through the gate. The cold morning had turned out beautiful and very comfortable. This loop hike is a good workout for a trail hike.

6.5 miles; 1000 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Conglomerate Gardens Trail

Conglomerate Gardens Trail

Winding Home

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