Sunday, October 23, 2016

White Rock Hills Loop - 10/23/16

White Rock Hills (L), La Madre Mountain Range (R)

Hiking along Red Rock Canyon NCA Escarpment

Rain Clouds above North Blue Diamond Hills

Getting Ready at the Willow Springs Picnic Area
 There was a pleasant bit of rain at the Red Rock Canyon NCA this morning. Eleven hikers relished the idea and arrived at the Willow Springs Picnic Area at mile marker 7 on the Scenic Loop for a quick jaunt around the White Rock Hills. As we pulled into the trailhead, rain doused our cars enough that we needed windshield wipers! Then, just as quickly, it stopped. Throughout our upcoming hike, rain sprinkled us off and on. It was not unwelcomed. Ready, we started out on a counter-clockwise track immediately passing the hand prints placed on a nearby boulder by Early Paiute Native Americans.

Early Paiute Hand Prints
 During our first half mile, three trail runners passed us. This trail (along with the Grand Circle Trail) is very popular with the trail runners in Las Vegas.

Climbing Out of Willow Springs
 We climbed out of the Willow Springs notch and soon junctioned with the Grand Circle. Part of today's loop shared trail with the Grand Circle Trail, the longest trail located within the scenic loop area.

Circling around to Desert Floor

Almost to bottom of Long Hill Climb
 We circled around the corner, dipped through a beautiful desert wash, hiked through a rocky area with larger bushes then made our way over to an old road now used as a trail. This dirt road climbed a long hill parallel to the White Rock Hills to our left. Two hikers decided to hike the hill at a fast pace just for the workout. Near the top of the hill, they veered to the left on a small unmarked trail that led them over to White Rock Spring. This spring is extremely fragile to the Red Rock Canyon environment.

White Rock Springs (Very Fragile)
 Nearby, a sign pleads hikers to not dip their hands in the water since soaps, lotions, creams and trash can upset the eco system on which the wildlife depends. ... And, don't even think about putting your goldfish there.

Climbing Up from White Rock Trailhead
 By the time the two hikers made it up to the White Rock Trailhead above, the rest of the group were there taking a short water break. Next, we had another long climb up to the saddle between the White Rock Hills and the La Madre Mountains.

Colorful Hills

Snack Rock
 Just before we reached the saddle, we stopped at the snack rock on the left side of the trail for our break. The views from this rock are beautiful. Behind us, we could see all the way to Red Cap. In front of us, we saw Harris Peak with its burned landscape peeking over a La Madre Mountain saddle. We studied the White Rock Hills for ways to navigate the tough terrain for future reference. Afterwards, we climbed on up to the trail high point then started our descent into desert woods. The climate change on this side of the hills produces a very different type of foliage landscape. This is where most of the sprinkling occurred.

View from High Point Saddle of Back Side
  The descent through the trees felt great after our fast-paced climb previously. We could see that it was raining over Rocky Gap Road but most of that stopped before we got there.

Rain as we Descend
 We passed the dark rock fins that Tony uses as a snack break landmark on some of his hikes. Zigzagged through the trees enjoying the colors of the hills to our left.

Passing the Rock Wall Area

Yellow Leaves, Red Rocks & Rain on Lens
 The White Rock Hills Loop is officially 6.25 miles long. As a group, we voted to make the hike slightly longer by taking the first trail that turns to the right and goes up to the La Madre Springs Road. At the road, we turned left and descended down to Rocky Gap Road where we turned left again at the big wilderness sign. We hiked into the Willow Springs Picnic Area feeling great with 6.6 miles under our belt. Fun, friendship and exercise!

6.6 miles; 1200 feet elevation gain; 3.25 hours

La Madre Springs Road

Junction with Rocky Gap Road

Return to Trailhead

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