Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Outer Caldera Loop - 3/9/16

Las Vegas & the Spring Mountains from Backside of Outer Caldera Loop

The "Caldera" from the River Mountain Peak Trail Junction

Abundance of Sundrops

The Tall Junction Sign Pointing the Way
 The Outer Caldera Loop is found in Bootleg Canyon Park, a bike park in Boulder City, Nevada. This trail is most easily accessed by driving up the well-maintained dirt road past the base of the zip line parking area for almost 1.25 miles where there is a blind drive down on the left side of the road to a parking area. Five hikers started hiking here to scope out this leisurely route. The weather was optimal today and the  constant view of the city from the trail was clear.

Starting over the Little Rocky Peak (Foreground!)
 We started our clockwise loop at the tall trail sign seen in one of the photos above. The Outer Caldera Trail took off up the hill onto a little rocky knob peak.

Our Distant Trail from Little Rocky Peak
 At the top of the peak, we could see more of our trail flowing on a gentle descent. To our right, we saw River Mountain Peak rising stalwartly among the other ridge peaks.

Sundrops & Notchleaf Phacelia decorate the Trail

Caldera Trail Descending toward the City
 Besides the clear fresh air, one of the more interesting aspects to the hike was the abundance of wildflowers. (Yellow, purple, white, blue and orange.) Death Valley may have had a "Superbloom" this year but the Lake Mead desert had an unusual bloom as well. The trail led us on a continual descent until we reached a signed junction. Our route turned to the right and soon, we were offered yet another trail choice. Our original plan was to turn onto the Inner Caldera for the remaining part of the loop. Here, we changed our minds and continued on the Outer Caldera.

 The loop swung out to hike the "perimeter" of the large open desert space that some say looks like an ancient volcano caldera with its surrounding low peaks.

Outer Caldera Trail Descent
 The next point of interest appeared when we began hiking alongside a maintained fence. It probably separates Bootleg Canyon Park from the adjacent BLM land and Lake Mead NRA.

Happy Hikers

Hikers with Red Mountain in Background
We reached the junction with the River Mountain Peak approach trail and decided against any sort of long snack break. It was such a beautiful day for a hike! The trail looped in and out among a few deep canyons including Arch Canyon. Then it swept under the Red/Black Saddle and the Skyline Trails. Shortly, we found ourselves in very familiar territory where several trails converge on the Upper Bootleg Trailhead where we began. Great walk in the park!

4.5 miles; 550 feet elevation gain; 2 hours

Lower Trail Heads toward River Mountain

Fence Separates Bootleg Canyon Park from BLM & Lake Mead NRA

Heading to the Finish Line

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