Friday, July 22, 2016

Deer Creek / Meadows Loop - 7/22/16

North Loop Trail Corner

Wild Horse Ridge with Deer Creek Road Below

Starting Out

Old Deer Creek Road circling down to Interpretive Trail
 On short notice, nine club members interested in a moderate hike drove up Deer Creek Road in the Spring Mountains NRA to the Deer Creek Picnic Area trailhead parking lot. We took a look at the gully of Deer Creek Canyon behind the restrooms and started down. At the bottom, we realized that the gully was not easily crossed but there turned out to be a small trail that led around the right end under the paved road above. On the other side of the gully, we found our target; remnants of the Old Deer Creek Road.

Passing Up the Resting Benches
 In lieu of hiking up the paved road to the North Loop Trail, we had decided to learn a little about the old road on the other side of the highway. The roundabout way that we explored took us on a much more interesting route to the North Loop.

Old Wood Burning Stove
 As we rounded the Mahogany Grove Group Picnic Area, we connected with an interpretive trail that had recently been installed.

Display Signs about the Civil Conservation Corps

Checking Out the Display Signs
We passed several resting benches made of rock and several old wood burning stoves that may have been gathered from around the Spring Mountains. There were signs explaining tidbits about the CCC (Civil Conservation Corps) that had done so much work in the mountains during the hard times of the Depression. Very interesting. From here, we headed up the hill that would take us to the back side of the Cougar Ridge Trail parking turnout. We crossed over this hill and dropped again into a gully.

Climbing Up behind the Cougar Ridge Trail Turnout
 Another part of the Old Deer Creek Road was found in the gully. We followed it down wash for a short way then it veered up to the right. This circled around the hill then continued; but here, we turned to the right.

Crossing Deer Creek Road on Old Road
 We started hiking up an old spur road that headed straight for the new paved road. We crossed the pavement and continued on this old road until we climbed up to junction with the North Loop Trail.

North Loop Trail

North Loop Trail
 A right turn started us up the familiar trail. We were already tired from the little ups and downs we had done so it was interesting how the previous workout changed our pace at the North Loop landmarks. Business was slow today. Not many hikers on the trail otherwise. Wishing to keep the moderate hike moderate, we climbed slowly and stopped about every third of a mile.  Each time we restarted after a short rest, it was difficult to get our breathing back to the proper cadence.

Nearing the North Loop Meadow
 But, our legs were thankful. It was a beautiful day; a little warm but a nice cool breeze at times.

Entering the North Loop Meadow
 When we reached the North Loop Meadow, we stopped under the tree and took our snack break. Mummy's Nose pointed upward in the distance.

Meadow Break

Mummy's Nose from Meadow
 The break was relaxing after the climb then we gathered ourselves for the descent portion of the hike. The route led us up to the end of the meadow where we turned to the right onto the Wild Horse Canyon connector trail. This is a pleasant small trail that weaves in and out and up and down through the woods. To our right was a view of the desert foothills and playas. When the trail took a decided right turn down, we began small steep switchbacks. This took a bit of concentration. Finally, we found the Cactus Jack Trail junction.

Turning onto the Wild Horse Connector Trail
 The Cactus Jack Trail continues straight at the intersection while the Wild Horse Canyon Trail turns down to the right.

Small Steep Wild Horse Switchbacks
 The Cactus Jack Trail was named for Cactus Jack, a legendary man who pioneered many trails in the Las Vegas area. This trail was one.

Zigzagging down to Cactus Jack Trail

Wild Horse Ridge from Cactus Jack Trail
 As we climbed the small trail, we could see Wild Horse Ridge rising across the canyon. This ridge is made of a conglomerate type rock that has eroded on either side of its half mile. The higher cliff is on the far side above Cougar Ridge Trail and Deer Creek. Soon, we were climbing up on the top end of the rock ridge. This part of the hike (the ridge) is always a favorite. It isn't difficult and there are views from beginning to end. The group enjoyed the small descent without stopping.

Top End of Wild Horse Ridge
 There was wild horse evidence on the ridge. They hang out in the Deer Creek area but we didn't see any horses today.

Middle of Wild Horse Ridge
 At the bottom end of the rock ridge, we turned onto a trail to the left and followed it all the way down to Cougar Ridge Trail. On the road, we turned left.

Bottom of Wild Horse Ridge

Turning Left on Cougar Ridge Trail
 Interestingly, we met up with one then two hikers on the road needing information and direction. We were happy to help. Then, when there was a road turning to the right with a gate across it, we turned and headed down through the Deer Creek Picnic Area on the asphalt. The creek was running and there were a few picnickers around. We passed a humongous tree that was recently cut down and looked like a great jungle gym for kids. Then we crossed the pavement again and returned to the cars. Always fun to find new routes! Great morning!

5 miles; 1350 feet elevation gain; 2.75 hours

Dropping down through the Deer Creek Picnic Area

Fun New Climbing Log

Returning to the Cars

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