Saturday, June 11, 2016

Old Deer Creek Road / Champion Ridge - 6/11/16

Champion Ridge view up Lee Canyon

Rocky Peak view to Foothills

Leaving Trailhead with Mummy's Nose in Background

Desert Nuclear Overlook from Trail
 It must have been a really wet rainstorm last night in the Spring Mountains NRA. We saw many large puddles and wet terrain. But, there was a beautiful window of calm weather between 9am and noon that fit right into our hike on the old ever-shrinking Deer Creek dirt road. So, thirteen leisurely hikers parked at the Orange Trail trailhead across from the Seven Mile Canyon forest road on Highway 158 (the new Deer Creek Road). We crossed the highway, marched through empty campsites and began our hike on the dirt road that leads off to the right.

Starting Up toward Rocky Peak Junction
 The first half mile of the hike is on a gentle ascent as the road curves in and out on the contour of the hillside to the left. Mummy's Nose rose steeply up to our left.

Hayford Peak and the Desert National Wildlife Refuge in Distance
 There were wide views of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge to our right. We think that Hayford Peak is the highest peak we could see out there.

Minimal Scrambling on Rocky Peak

Mummy's Nose from Rocky Peak
 At the Rocky Peak trail junction, the immediate high point of the old dirt road, we turned to the right and followed the primitive trail up to the top. There is a minimal amount of scrambling involved but the view attained from the top of this limestone rock outcropping is worth the little extra effort. We stood at the top enjoying the views of Macks Peak, the desert playas and everything in between. We also had great views of Mummy's Nose as seen in the photo below. We were talking so much, we almost forgot we were hiking!

Mummy's Nose from Rocky Peak
 On our way down, we missed the all important squeeze through the trees and ended up following a loop route back down to the road. No problem. We still had thirteen hikers!

Old Deer Creek Road
 We began our descent on the old dirt road passing several washes that led up to the left. None of them appeared very inviting. When we came into the vicinity of a private home below, we found an old car not far from the trail. After a look-see, we returned to the trail.

Old Plymouth near Trail

Log across Trail
  Not far from that, we passed the rickety staircase on the embankment. Still haven't explored to see if it serves a trail. Next, we passed the turnoff road to the right. There is a gate on this road to serve as a good landmark. We continued straight along the old road passing a rotten fallen tree. Finally, if you continue straight, the road changes into a very vague trail. But, our route takes a sharp turn to the right and drops down to the highway. Here, we passed through the double cairns and crossed the highway. Down the road about 50 feet, is another dirt road that leads up to the top of Champion Ridge.

Road Crossing
 There is a campsite here and it appeared that someone had left a few items from the night before. (The campers probably got really wet!)

Shelter Campsite on Champion Ridge
 We hiked down the ridge about a quarter mile as we took in the views from the limestone cliff that rises above Champion Road. We talked about the Sisters Ridge across Lee Canyon that we could see clearly.

Hiking along Champion Ridge

Up Lee Canyon toward the Sisters Ridge
 After returning to the campsite, we took our break then began our hike back. This hike has much of its elevation gain on the return but we took it slow and enjoyed about three breaks. The descent down the home stretch went quickly while the sun stayed behind some darkish clouds. Very pleasant hiking weather. Very pleasant hiking company.

4 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Thirteen Hikers on the Edge

Back Across the Road

Home Stretch

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