Saturday, October 15, 2016

Mountain Springs Loop - 10/15/16

Mountain Springs, Nevada


Autumn Colors with Mt. Potosi

Starting Out a Dirt Road
 This hike could be called "The Best of Mountain Springs, Nevada." (However, the hike does not include the Mountain Springs Saloon (Biker Bar) so the name would not be apt!) Seventeen hikers arrived at the Mountain Springs Pass Trailhead for a leisurely hike in the Mountain Springs area looking for agave roasting pits, springs and a cave. The trailhead is found on Highway 160 on the north side of the road. The turnoff sneaks up on you right where the two right lanes are merging to one!

Dirt Road / Trail
 We introduced ourselves then started up the middle dirt road into the hills. This road leads to Heartbreak Hill but everyone was very happy that said hill was not on the agenda today!

Crossing the Deep Wash
 At the top of the very first small hill, we turned left onto a small trail in the scrub. This is a shortcut trail to another dirt road where we turned to the left again. Bearing to the right, we followed this road all the way to the end where it narrows into a trail.

More Dirt Road / Trail

Warning in Front of Agave Roasting Pits
 We should have crossed the wash on our left a little sooner but we decided to go ahead and cross the deep sandy trench right where we were. Next time, we will cross sooner for an easier time. On the other side of the wash, we found another dirt road and turned left. There is a network of small old dirt roads above Mountain Springs and it is easy to get confused. The strategy for this section of the hike was to stay to the right every time a junction arrived. As the road dropped, climbed and dropped, we came to an agave roasting pit area. These ancient "kitchens" are protected by the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and we reminded ourselves that we should not even walk on the outer edges of the rock. An internet page that explains much of the cultural history of the Red Rock Canyon NCA can be found at the following address.

Turning onto the Trail
 After circling one pristine agave roasting pit, we followed the road around to the left until we found a vague trail turning off to the right. This trail leads right into the trail that takes hikers along the foothills of the back of the Red Rock Canyon escarpment, or Keystone Thrust.

Hiking the Trail above Mountain Springs
 This is a good trail that is often used by horse and riders. When we neared a particularly steep ridge that the trail goes up and over, we turned to our left to start down a gravel wash. The horses turned here, too!

Found an Old Car / Truck

Hiking through Springs Area
 Nearing the Rainbow Springs dirt road, we turned to the left again onto another trail. Over the first little ridge we found a shady spot to stop for our snack break. Over another little ridge would have been a good place to stop, too, since we were in the area of some springs and limestone rock outcroppings. After the break, we continued following the trail that ran somewhat parallel to the dirt road below.

Trail Parallel to Rainbow Springs Road
 Passing through the adjacent springs area, we found an old car/truck that we did not know about previously. Still aren't sure what kind of car it is. Next, we connected with the cave trail shortcut and climbed up to the cave trail.

Visiting the Cave
 Most of us went up to the cave to take a look see then everyone came back down to the approach trail. From here the trail continued out to junction again with the Rainbow Springs Road.

Main Springs above Town

One of Several Ancient Agave Roasting Pits
 The springs above the town seemed to be free of the brush that is usually there and we were able to see the actual spring water. We circled above the springs and turned left to pass by another agave roasting pit very near the first one. Now, our route headed straight down to a farm house where interesting horses waited for our visit, the hike's finale. This is a fun interesting leisurely hike that brings to light the wonderful little town of Mountain Springs.

4 miles; 550 feet elevation gain; 2.25 hours

Following Dirt Road back toward Trailhead

Miniature Horse Finale

Large White Horse Finale

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