Saturday, February 20, 2016

Railroad Pass Mountain Loop - 2/20/16

First View of Cascata Waterfall

Brittlebushes in Bloom

Skyline with Snow-Capped Spring Mountains

Starting Uphill
 There was a single choice in hikes today and twenty-five hikers showed up! Even though it was a wide combination of abilities, the hike was done at a leisurely pace as was advertised on the schedule. We began from the upper level parking lot of the Railroad Pass Casino outside of Boulder City on the edge of Henderson, NV. A trail headed up to cross the River Mountains Loop Trail and the train tracks. Then we climbed the first, and usually the most difficult, hill of the hike taking the left fork twice.

Circling the Contour
 At the top of the hill, we turned onto the right fork and started around this contour of the mountain. Our view of the busy highway nearby began to move further into the distance.

Hiking Along the Cascata Fence
 Soon, we were out of earshot as well when we began hiking along the fence erected to keep people and bighorn sheep off of the Cascata Golf Course private property.

Climbing Up to Next Level

Hillside of Brittlebushes & Creosote
 At the corner of the fence, we began climbing up again. This time, the climbing didn't really stop long before the snack break. As we circled, we saw that there were many flowers blooming on this side of the mountain. Mostly brittlebush and phacelia. We were excited to see the display as we hiked ever closer to the Cascata Clubhouse below. The trail contoured around some more of the mountain before we came to the best corner of the day.

More Contour
 The trail took a corner turn around to the left and, "le voila," there it was! The beautiful flowing Cascata Waterfall flowing down to stream beside the Cascata driving range.

Cascata Clubhouse and Driving Range
 Cascata is in gorgeous condition! The grass is bright green and perfectly manicured. The water flows down to provide added beauty around the grounds.

Cascata Waterfall above the Driving Range

Tricky Stuff heading over to the Waterfall
 There was only one (... er, 14) things missing! Where were the bighorns? We had not seen any bighorns on the ridges above and there were no sheep grazing on the driving range below. Hmmm. After much thought, we decided that the golf course had taken measures to prevent the sheep from being able to get onto the greens. Perhaps, their food source had been removed and now they had moved closer to Red Mountain and Bootleg Canyon nearby. However, we did see a lot of grass growing on the mountain during our hike.

More Tricky Stuff
 So, we took note of the jug handle arch on the ridge above and circled around the contour of the canyon to hike above the waterfall and its hidden pumps.

Phacelia Blooms
 Another note of interest. The bikers have improved the trail in this stretch and it appeared that they have been using this trail more. It is good that they improved the trail but not so good that some of the hills are being worn away to become a lot more slippery.

Trail Above an Outer Cascata Hole

Last Climb before Break
 As we circled and climbed to the other side of the mountain loop, we saw more of the Cascata golf course below us. In the distance, the Mother Trail could be seen on the yellow and red hills. Soon, we could see the saddle area that we would be taking our break on. The last climb took the switchback seen in the photo to the right. Arriving at the saddle, we hiked out to the middle of the collective saddle area and sat on some rocks for our break.

Taking a Break on the Saddle
 Today was John W.'s birthday so we sang for him (without having to pay royalties.) At the saddle, we could see the skyline of Las Vegas and the snow-capped Spring Mountains.

Las Vegas Skyline from Start of 2nd Half of Loop
 After the break, we started down the trail that turns off to the left in the middle of the collective saddle area. Choosing the moderate option, we zigzagged down, crossed two dirt roads and continued out the trail.

Descending the Wash

Descending the Wash
Taking another moderate option, we turned right to descend down a wash. At this point, the terrain opens up and the scenery begins to lack luster. Finally, we circled around enough for the mountain to gobble us up again. The River Mountains Trail, train tracks and, finally, the casino comes into view and we made our way down along the trail passing a few homeless people's abodes on the way. It was a great day for a slow hike.

5 miles; 900 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Circling the Corner above the Water Tank

Last Leg

Boulder City Tourist Train at Railroad Pass Casino

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