Monday, June 27, 2016

Fletcher Canyon via Acastus Trail - 6/27/16

Fletcher Canyon Narrows

Acastus Trail Namesake

The Acastus Trail

Chukars near Visitor Center
 It was really a hot one today! Six optomistic souls drove up Kyle Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA for a fast hike from the lower elevation of the Visitor Center to the slightly higher Obstacle Rock in Fletcher Canyon. When we arrived, the visitor center gate was closed (doesn't open til 9am) so we parked across the road in the Traffic Circle Trailhead parking lot. This added at least a half mile to the hike. We walked across the traffic circle, through the gate and followed the red gravel trail through the visitor center area.

Heading Down to the Kyle Canyon Wash
 Along the way, we saw a huge flock of chukars running as fast as they could to get to the Kyle Canyon wash! Our route dropped down into Kyle Canyon and we started hiking up the gravel.

Flatbud Prickly-Poppies in the Kyle Canyon Wash
 We should have crossed on over to the Kyle Wash Trail but, at first, the gravel wash was good enough for us.

Removing Red Brome Seeds

Field of Red Brome
 Then, when we needed to cross over to the trail that we were hiking parallel to, we had to cross through the endless red brome grass. Seed stickers everywhere! So, we stopped at the first bench and took care of the seeds sticking in our socks. After continuing, there were several wildflowers blooming on the side of the trail. A few of them are pictured below. The Kyle Wash Trail empties into one of the campgrounds that the park service has recently redone. (We recommend Site #17.)

Flowers along the Acastus Trail
 All along the Kyle Wash Trail and the following Acastus Trail, there are informational signs. If it wasn't so hot, we would have stopped to read a few of them.

Some Informational Signs along the Acastus Trail
 After the campground, the Acastus Trail began. Who knew? The Acastus Trail was named after a butterfly that lives here, and only here, in this area of Kyle Canyon.

Nearing the Campground on the Kyle Wash Trail

Starting Up Fletcher Canyon
 We crossed the bridge toward the road at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead, crossed Kyle Canyon Road and started up the Fletcher Canyon Trail. By then, we were greatly perspiring. The pace was fast ... probably to get out of the sun as soon as possible. With the sun high in the sky at this time of year, it was difficult to find cool shade. We persevered. Finally, we reached the hilly part of the trail and the shade felt good along with a slight cool breeze. The heat had taken its toll on at least one hiker and the pace slowed considerably.

Fletcher Canyon Trail follows the Wash
 Even though the weather was not optimal, Fletcher Canyon never disappoints. It is one of the most naturally beautiful trails in the Springs Mountains.

Heavy Wooded Growth in Fletcher Canyon
 There are cliffs and peaks rising up around the canyon as it begins to narrow.

Nearby Cliffs and Peaks

Starting the Fletcher Canyon Narrows
 Finally, we reached the Obstacle Rock where we took our break and did our best to recover from the heat. There is a little shade here. While we rested, Steve Al. climbed every crack and crevice around. This is not easily done since the limestone and well placed logs are all extremely slippery from water flow and human use. He climbed places that this writer has never seen climbed before! ... Don't try this at home. Steve is an expert scrambler!

Fletcher Canyon Narrows
 There were very few other hikers in the canyon today but we did pass some. We also saw a mule deer disappearing up the side of the canyon just before the narrows.

Steve shows us that it can be done!
 After recovering, the six of us started down through the narrows enjoying the scenery from the other direction.

Leaving Obstacle Rock Area

Back at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead
 Two miles down and we crossed the pavement at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead. Retracing our steps, we followed the Acastus Trail, hiked through the campground, connected with the Kyle Wash Trail and returned to the Visitor Center. (We opted not to wade through the red brome again!) Finally, we crossed the traffic circle and returned to our cars. By then, the temperature was around 90 degrees. Too hot to hike!

9 miles (from Traffic Circle TH); 1300 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Connecting with the Kyle Wash Trail

Hiking through the Red Brome

Passing through the Spring Mountains Gateway Visitor Center

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