Saturday, March 4, 2017

Liberty Loop - 3/4/17

Three Barrels and a River

Liberty Bell Arch


Hiking down into White Rock Canyon
 Although there is a previous entry on Liberty Bell Arch this year, the loop return for today's hike made it a route that was new for a few of us. Eighteen hikers parked at the White Rock Canyon Trailhead located 4 miles south of the O'Callaghan-Tillman Bridge on the Nevada/Arizona border. We began our hike by dropping down to hike underneath the Highway 93 bridge adjacent to the parking lot. White Rock Canyon is a mere wide wash at this point and we hiked down the sand until the canyon began to narrow.

Junction for Liberty Bell Arch Trail
 Not long after hiking through low rock walls, the junction for the Liberty Bell Arch Trail appeared on the right side of the canyon. There is a sign here as seen in the photo above.

Connecting with the Old Liberty Bell Trail
 There is a well worn trail that leads hikers through a colorful wash and connects with the old Liberty Bell Arch Trail coming down from the direction of the highway.

Mining Skiff

Hiking down the Wash Trail
 Next, we passed the old mining skiff still lying on the hill up to the right. The trail descends somewhat steeply down to the wash below and a right turn took us up to the mine entrance. It is abandoned, of course, but it is an interesting walk through a little bit of history. After our visit, we turned to follow the trail down the wash. As we hiked we noticed more and more yellow flowers called sundrops blooming all around. So nice to see flowers blooming after such a rainy winter.

Starting the climb to the Arch
 As we hiked down, we noted a small pyramid rock up to the left and a "car rock" up to the right. Ahead of us, we could see the side view of the arch with a little bit of sunshine passing through the hole.

The Arch from Approach
 We approached the arch with a small climb then passed the arch area without much pomp and circumstance. Our hike continued climbing up the hill on the trail beyond.

The Dam Bridge from Arch Area

Hiking up to Overlook
 The climb up to the top of the hill here involved a lot of elevation gain but the view we had at our snack break was worth it. We sat high above the Colorado River watching a few boats and kayaks navigate the cold water. As one boat approached the area below us, we could see many fish swimming toward shore out of its way. The water is deep here but very clear. So, after the break, we started down. We hiked slowly as we had done from the beginning. Today's hike was listed as "moderate."

The Bridge from Overlook Approach
 After we passed the arch again, our return trail went straight instead of turning down to the right to go to the wash. It was a small trail that hung on the side of the hill.

River Overlook Break Area
 When we rounded a corner, we could see the main trail that we had used to descend off to the right in the distance. But, after a little up and over right at the "car rock," we took a steep turn to the left to go down a chute to the wash at the bottom of the hill.

Fortification Hill from Overlook

Starting Descent off Overlook
 We waited at the bottom for everyone to take their time in the chute then turned to start our ascent in this wash. This wash had several interesting small scrambles within it and we took each obstacle slowly and carefully. The wash was beautiful in its rocky / desert kind of way. We passed several brittlebushes in bloom. Besides the sundrops and brittlebushes, we also saw a couple of phacelia and desert lupine blooming.

Returning past Arch
 In all, there were five sections of the ascent that may be considered a scramble even though hands were not usually necessary.

Following Different Trail Out
 We stayed in the main wash until we were almost back to the highway. At this point, we had a choice of hiking overland or hiking along the road.

Descent Chute

Climbing the Scramble Wash
 Hiking along the road is never a good idea but, the overland route was blessed with an old road. In fact, we were now at the exact spot where the old Liberty Bell Arch Trail used to start before the new Highway 93 was built a few years ago. We climbed up the hill to the old road and for a few of us, it felt like old home day! We turned to our right on the old road/trail and began hiking in the direction of the White Rock Wash. Very soon, we passed the junction of the old trail turning off the the right. Someday, we should take this trail just for the memories!

Passing a Brittlebush in Full Bloom
 The old road continued around the hill to our left, then it zigzagged down to begin crossing the desert.

Ascending the Scramble Wash
 Hikers can continue following the road all the way to the White Rock Wash but we chose to take the trail shortcut that turned to our left.

Scramble Wash

Scramble Wash
 The trail is there but very faint. Nevertheless, the route simply cuts off the corner heading over to the wash and the highway bridge where we started. We still had to climb up through some of the sandy wash for about half a mile. This loop hike should probably be listed as moderately strenuous for future reference, however, today's coordinator did a fantastic job with the various tasks at hand. This route makes the simple Liberty Bell Arch hike a lot more interesting. Great hike!

6.5 miles; 1300 feet elevation gain; 4 hours

Connecting with Old Road /Old Trail

Leaving Old Road for Trail to White Rock Wash

Dropping into White Rock Wash (Trailhead upper Left)

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