Thursday, October 13, 2016

Orange Trail (Point to Point) via Ridge - 10/13/16

Catch Pen on Deer Creek Loop

Orange Trail Ridge

Dropping down to the Catch Pen

Starting Out on the Orange Trail (Ridge Side)
 Six hikers opted to return to the Spring Mountains NRA in the fresh cool air. On the agenda was a point to point hike from Deer Creek Road to Lee Canyon Road via the Orange Trail passing the old Catch Pen and Spring; a moderate, mostly downhill hike. After leaving a car down at the mile marker 10.5 trailhead on Lee Canyon Road, we piled into a large red truck and drove up to the Orange Trail Trailhead. From Lee Canyon Road, it is the second turnout on the left side of the road after the Desert View Overlook.

Today's Hikers
 The Orange Trail goes right and left on the north side of the road at this point. The left side is the wash side. Today's hike turned to the right for the ridge side.

A Look Back at Mummy's Nose
 The first part of the trail wound us around hills to reach the ridge that we would follow all the way down to the catch pen.

View Down Slope

Conglomerate Landmark
 As we hiked, we would get nearer and nearer to the deep Deer Creek Canyon that drops below Angel Peak which we could also see in the distance to the east. Soon, we were passing the conglomerate rock outcropping on the ridge, a landmark. The trail did not start dropping steeply until after this landmark. When the trail started sloping more, it became very clear that it was an equestrian trail. Horses have torn up the rocky trail terrain.

Mummy Mountain behind Us
 The views opened up on the slopes now. Behind us, we could see the entirety of Mummy Mountain. In front of us lay the desert foothills.

Wide View of Desert Below
 We started seeing large deer or possibly elk tracks on the trail along with horse and burro prints.

Almost to Catch Pen Junction

One of Three Old Deer Creek Loop Signs
 Finally, just past 3.6 miles into the hike, we passed the first of three old Deer Creek Loop signs and waltzed into the catch pen area. The sign pictured to the left has been enhanced so that the words that have faded badly can be read. There would be two more signs seen on the trail before we got to Lee Canyon Road. At the catch pen, we looked around and decided to take our break here. Not far over the ridge to the right was Deer Creek Canyon.

Rope and Fencing at Catch Pen
 A little exploration before we left the area showed us a pile of old rope and fencing that was probably used back when the catch pen was in use.

Hiking the Middle Deer Creek Canyon Trail
 We turned to the left on the trail that can be referred to the Middle Deer Creek Canyon Trail. At this point, it is also the bottom part of the Orange Trail loop.

Junctioning with the Orange Trail (Wash Side)

Approaching the Jackrabbit Junction Area
 There are several small trails that spur off of this trail but they all end up at the same place. A very large deer, (or could it have been an elk?), was spotted up the hill and we later saw a buck herd of 4 or 5. We passed the wash side of the Orange Trail then continued through Jackrabbit Junction, complete with a jackrabbit. Up and down about 3 more ridges brought us to Lee Canyon. We crossed the bottom of the canyon then climbed up to the mile marker 10.5 trailhead. The red truck was retrieved and we were on our way home. Very pleasant morning. Loved the fresh air!

7 miles; 600 feet elevation gain; 3.75 hours

Lots of Ups and Downs

View down Lee Canyon

Final Climb out of Lee Canyon

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