Sunday, February 21, 2016

Caldera / Mother Loop - 2/21/16

Las Vegas & Spring Mountains from High Point Saddle

Caldera Trail

Mother Trail

Girl Scout Trail
 Bootleg Canyon in Boulder City, Nevada is a fantastic park filled with well-manicured trails created for mountain biking. Hikers and trail runners also use these trails on a regular basis. Today, seventeen hikers arrived at the trailhead located at the base of the zip line in Bootleg Canyon for an eight mile loop hike that used Girl Scout, West Leg, a connecting canyon section, Caldera, and Mother Trails. The pace was set early on at a challenging moderately strenuous gait. The group set out hiking up the dirt road that runs through Bootleg Canyon proper.

Landmark on West Leg Trail
 We sidled over to the Girl Scout Trail for a short hike. Then, just after the stovepiped cave (presumably used for the moonshine still back in the day), the route turned left to climb up and connect with the West Leg.

Ascent Canyon
 Another shortish hike on the West Leg brought us to the Landmark corner seen in a photo above. The canyon to the left of the pointy peak was our door to go off trail. We ascended this canyon wash where there was just the faintest glimmer of an old trail.

Beginning Descent Wash

Descent Wash
 At the top of the wash, we looked to our left and saw the view in the first photo. From there, we dropped into the following wash on the left and began a gentle descent down through beautiful colors. Historically, this has been a good area to view bighorns but not today. We continued down until we reached a steep rocky drop into a cross wash where we turned to the right. The first part of this section is a bit brushy but once through this, the wash opens up. This is also a gently sloping wash that wiggles its way down between two mountain size hills.

Halfway Point of Descent Wash
 Near the bottom of the wash, the sides of the canyon become wider and the floor is gravelly and brushy. We followed the central wash on the left side until we ran into an obvious cross trail.

Nearing End of Descent Wash
 This is the Caldera Trail. Go right to circle around on a long loop and return to the tall sign post near the Bootleg Canyon dirt road. Today, we turned to the left and began the first of four substantial climbs. This junction was 2.5 miles into the hike.

Approaching Caldera Trail Junction

Starting Up Caldera Trail
 We were now on the back side of the Bootleg Canyon park. Las Vegas and the snow-capped Spring Mountains could be seen from the first half of our journey up the Caldera Trail. The terrain was light colored desert with only creosote and scrub to dot the dirt green. We climbed up to the 1st high point of the trail then dropped down into a deep wash. This pattern repeated itself three more times over the course of the next 2.5 miles. Each time, the views around us changed.

Terrain Between Trail & Valley
 We followed the good trail without problems. After hiking in the wash for a little bit, we started our 2nd climb up to a high point.

Climbing To 2nd Trail High Point
 This high point was a clear saddle. A trail (not on the map) turns off to the right here. We took a look and found the view in the photo below.

View from 2nd High Point Saddle Area

Caldera Trail Heading Toward Railroad Pass Mountains
 Right after this saddle, the trail divides. We took the left fork and managed well down to the next deep wash using a switchback near the very bottom. Once again, we began a climb up to the next high point (3rd). During this climb, we began seeing an abundance of tall cairns on our trail and on the small peaks around us. It was kind of fascinating! Kind of gave the writer a zen feeling! As it turns out, this area has been dubbed "Stonehengerson" by some of the members of our club that have developed a hike in this area.

Trail Switchbacks Down to a Wash
 At the top of this climb, we had great views of the city and the mountains behind Railroad Pass Casino. There are plenty of rocks to sit on so we sat and had our snack break.

A Rocky Point
 While we rested, two hikers climbed up to a nearby peak to add their rocks to the top of the cairns that had been built up there.

The Stonehengerson Area (Cairns Everywhere)

Too Many Drinks
 We dropped down into the next wash where someone had placed two dilapidated bar stools. On the stools, they had arranged two sets of bighorn bones. Yes, a bit morbid. Finally, we started up the 4th and final climb of the Caldera Trail for today. At the top, the 4th high point, we junctioned with the Mother Trail that continued down on the other side of the hill. To the right, a trail leads across the collective saddle area to the Railroad Pass Mountain Loop. To the left, a trail leads up to what our club calls the Bootleg Ridge.

Dropping Down from the Mother Trail Junction
 We descended down the Mother Trail. We could see various holes of the Cascata Golf Course from our high contour. Immediately, the reds and yellows of the trail were apparent.

Brittlebush in Red / Yellow Wash
 The Mother Trail is a beautiful trail that winds in and out on a contour of the mountain arroyos. It is best to just sit back and enjoy the lateral undulations.

Winding Mother Trail

Still about 1.5 Miles Out
 We took note of the flowers that were blooming off the trail such as brittlebushes, phacelia, primrose and sundrops. Some of these blooms don't come up every year and it is fantastic to see them now. We passed the Coyote Loop via the shorter Mother Trail. We passed the POW junction and the IMBA junction. Finally, we dropped down to the Bootleg Canyon dirt road where there were several bikers congregated to welcome us back to civilization. A great hike and a great workout!

8 miles; 1230 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours


Rock Climbing on the Mother Trail

Arriving Back in Trailhead Area

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