Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pinto Valley Wash - 1/21/17

View Down Wash at Fork

Needle and Crescent Moon

Cottonwood Spring Dry Fall

Trail down into Wash
 Pinto Valley is located within the Lake Mead NRA between Northshore Road (MM 18 to MM 25) and Lake Mead. At the midway point of the valley, Boulder Wash descends perpendicularly down to what used to be Boulder Canyon and is now Lake Mead. In the early 1900's, a "highway" ran through the valley carrying travelers between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. It must have been a real treat to reach this section of the Old Arrowhead Highway due to the many colors in the terrain.

Fault Narrows
 The club names the lower three miles of this valley/wash/highway Pinto Valley Wash. Eleven hikers came out today for the hike totaling six miles on a cold but beautiful morning.

Go Around Trail meets Dry Fall Route
 The sky was already blue when we arrived at the trailhead but the wind continued off and on throughout the hike. Some hikers were constantly changing their wardrobe!

View to Left Fork (Razorback Ridge)

Passing Hamblin Junction
 We began from the Northshore Road mile marker 18.2 pullout, crossed the road and took the trail down into the wash. This area had received a lot of rain the day before, so we were expecting muddy but colorful terrain. We kept the pace slow since the hike was advertised as leisurely but the small elevation change kept everyone together. The first small challenge was the fault narrows. They were a little slippery.

Remnants of Old Arrowhead Highway Support Structure
 Next, we came to the Cottonwood Spring dry fall. Two hikers slipped and slid their way up the dry fall and the rest of us took the go around trail to meet them at the top.

Highway Switchback
 There is a fork in the washes at the yellow hill on the left. If you take the more obvious turn to the left, this takes you along Razorback Ridge. The old highway actually takes the right fork and the wash narrows here.

Descent from High Point

Three Mile Break
 We hiked into the narrowing wash and the colors increased. A small group of other hikers turned up to the right at the Hamblin junction while we continued up the winding old road/wash. There were several curves before we reached the road's switchback. We noted the rocks that were placed under the road to support it right before we turned. A little more climbing and we reached the high point of today's hike. After this, we descended down to a gorgeously colorful area.

Pinto Wash Color
 The three mile mark is at the bottom of the hill where we took our break. There were just a few rocks to sit on in this area.

Pinto Wash Color
 We had expected thick mud here but the wet ground was sandy enough that we could walk on it without taking it with us.

Climbing back up to High Point

Taking the Go Around at Cottonwood Spring Dry Fall
 The return trip was a complete reverse except that we walked over to look at the old water trough at Cottonwood Spring. The story goes that this was a good place to fill your car's radiator with water in the dry hot desert sun. We also spied a lizard on a rock; an unusual sight at this time of year. When we returned to the trailhead, there were 17 cars parked there. This is a popular place on a beautiful Saturday. Nice hike.

6 miles; 700 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Interesting Details

Entering the Fault Narrows from Above

Returning to a Busy Trailhead

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