Saturday, April 23, 2016

Hilltop Loop - 4/23/16

Charleston Peak from the Hike High Point

Hilltop from Twilight Trailhead

Kyle Canyon Wash

Approaching Wash from Dirt Road
 The Hilltop Loop is a short equestrian trail that begins out of the Twilight Trailhead located 8.5 miles up Kyle Canyon Road on the right side. Seven or eight years ago, this parking lot is where hired horse rides were available. The large hitching post railing is still there. Now, this area is used mainly for mountain bikers but also equestrian and hiking endeavors. For the second hike in a week, we returned with one more hiker than we set out with so we had a total of eleven hikers within the boundary of Red Rock Canyon NCA.

Utilizing a Wash Side Trail
 The hike began up the dirt road that followed along the large Kyle Canyon Wash below us to the left. The dirt road took us down to the wash where we walked down through the large gravel.

Desert Sage and Princess Plume

Approach to Hilltop Loop Junction
 There is a small side trail on the left side of the wash. We took this trail then crossed the wash at the Inner Wash junction and took another side trail on the other side until the Hilltop Loop junction on the right. Along the wash, we noted several kinds of blooming flowers including desert sage, princess plume, and cliff rose. After taking our right turn, we began a gentle climb and started noticing that many of the joshua trees had fruit on them. It seemed unusual to see so many of the fruits!

Joshua Tree Fruit
 We climbed a bit before we left the west side of the Hilltop and stopped at a small overlook. To the north, we could see the upper portion of the Paiute village. To the south, the snow capped mountains rose above the desert.

Starting Up the Hilltop Loop

Hilltop Loop Trail
 After a nice rest, we continued up the trail. The next climb was a little steeper. It took us to the first saddle. From there, we noted the steepest climb presented itself to the right. Prepared for the ascent, eleven leisurely hikers took on the hill with strength and fortitude. In no time, we were at the top where the trail led around to the east. A little more gentle climbing and we found ourselves at the hike high point. There is a cairn here. If you wanted to climb to the top of Hilltop, this is where you would want to start.

First Saddle in View
 As the descent began, we took in the gorgeous views of Charleston Peak, La Madre Peak and Mummy Mountain. Cars on Kyle Canyon Road below us appeared as small as ants. We could also see our cars at the trailhead far below.

The Steep Hill

Enjoying the High Overlook
 The trail circled around to a second saddle then descended off of the hill. Our route crossed a dirt road and kept a straight line in front of us. This small trail angled slightly to the right as it took us up and over a hill before reaching the north end of the large parking lot trailhead. This is a short and sweet hike that served us well in the fresh wind today.

3 miles; 500 feet elevation gain; 1.75 hours

Nearing the Hike High Point with La Madre Peak in Background

Charleston Peak and Twilight Trailhead from the Hike High Point

Returning to the Trailhead with Hilltop in Background

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