Saturday, January 23, 2016

West Leg / East Leg Loop - 1/23/16

Bighorn Looking Out for His Family Nearby

West Leg Trail

West Leg Trail

Starting Up the West Leg Trail
 Today's dismal sky perked up a bit when twenty-five hikers showed up for a new leisurely route located in the Bootleg Canyon Bike Park in Boulder City, Nevada. When we arrived at the zipline base parking area, there weren't many spaces available due to early runners on the trails. But, we did find a place to park and soon the runners finished and were leaving. The park was busy today, however, we only had to step aside for two bikes and a group of three runners all morning.

West Leg Trail
 We hiked up the dirt road to the first trail junction and connected with the Mother Trail to the left. Quickly, we turned to the right onto the West Leg Trail.

West Leg Trail

Zigzagging the Steep Bike Hills
The West Leg climbs up a little to travel along a high contour of the colorful hills. Our pace was slow and steady. The group stayed together as the trail wound in and out of the canyons and arroyos. One of the hikers spotted movement up on one of the ridges and we felt privileged to see a small group of bighorns far above us. Pictures were taken and we watched for a couple of moments. When we moved on, we kept winding in, out and over.

The Male
 As we crested the next small hill, one hiker quietly said, "Look!" Not too far up (maybe 25 yds.) to our left was one of the bighorns. A male.

Females Chowing Down
 Finally, he moved on and just over another small hill, we saw what he was protecting. There were four more bighorns, females. They were very busy eating from the hillside and barely took note of us.

Most Watchful Female

Hiking the End of the West Leg
 We enjoyed our wildlife treat and finally continued along the trail. All along the West Leg, we could look across the canyon to the other side and see the East Leg Trail that we would use on the return. As we rounded the turn in the canyon, we started noticing truck after truck driving up the canyon. We knew they contained bikes and riders who start at the top of the mountain and ride down on the many downhill competitive trails. There is also a zipline that begins at the top and the company's bus also went by.

View of Bootleg Canyon From West Leg
 There is a nice view from the West Leg of Bootleg Canyon as the trail curves around.

Red Mountain on Other Side of Bootleg Canyon
 The West Leg ends at a junction where several trails are found. There is a tall trail sign located here but it doesn't name all the trails in this big junction area.

Resting on Little Rocky Peak of Outer Caldera Trail

Tall Sign Junction
 For our snack break, we turned up the Outer Caldera Trail here to climb a little rocky peak. It was a great place to seat 25 hikers. Afterwards, we came back down to the tall sign and dropped on down to the dirt road. We climbed the hill on the road about half way up then turned to our right onto the East Leg Trail. Our return had begun on this colorful, mostly red, contour of Red Mountain.

View of Three Trails from East Leg
 Across from us, we could see the little rocky peak that we used for our break. See above right.

Hiking the East Leg Trail

East Leg Trail
 The hike back on the East Leg was very pleasant on a generally down slope. We observed an incident with a lost dog that ended happily. We passed the newly painted downhill practice ramp and three crazy ways for bikers to descend down to the road. The end of the East Leg is rocky but we handled it well. Everyone seemed to enjoy this new short route.

4.3 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Red Canyon on Red Mountain

Downhill Practice Ramps

Nearing the End of East Leg

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