Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pine Cone Canyon Loop (via No Name) - 6/7/17

Pine Cone Canyon

McFarland Peak from Bonanza Trail

Starting Up Lower Bristlecone Trail

Passing the Weather Station
 Pine Cone Canyon was first used by the club a few years ago. It is a steep short cut from the Lower Bristlecone Trail to the Bonanza Trail in the Spring Mountains NRA. It can be used to make several different hiking loops with distances between 5 and 8 miles. Today's loop utilized the No Name Trail for its descent. Eleven hikers arrived at the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead on Lee Canyon Road. This trailhead is located just past the Old Mill Picnic Area and the meadow where wild horses graze in the morning.

Starting Up Pine Cone Canyon
 Our warm up was 1.25 miles on the Lower Bristlecone Trail. At the apex of the forest road's hairpin turn and just after the junction of the Old Mill Trail, there is an old forest road that turns to the right on a bed of pine needles and rock.

It's Steep!
 We made the right turn and started up the old road. The road goes between the weather station on the right and a campsite on the left then changes into a single track trail that leads into a ravine.

Nearing the Top of Pine Cone Canyon

Slope of Terrain
 We climbed the steep bugger of a canyon at our own pace. Just getting to the top where it junctioned with the Bonanza Trail was the accomplishment. Speed did not matter! One by one, we hiked up through the ravine whose floor is covered with pine cones, thus the name. It got steeper and steeper. There is no "easy" way to do it. Finally, one by one, we arrived at the top where there is a nice hill of rock that we sat on while we regathered. We all agreed that this climb "takes the cake!"

High Point (Bonanza Trail)
 We let the last hikers up take a breath then we turned left on the Bonanza Trail and climbed just a little more before we rounded a small hill and started down the Bonanza steps.

Descending Bonanza Steps (Charleston Peak in Background)

Gathering at the No Name Junction
 We regathered again at the No Name junction where there is also a wilderness sign. This is where we began to reap the rewards of our formidable climb. We turned to the right onto the No Name Trail and began a very pleasant hike through an old bristlecone forest. When the trees parted on the downhill side of the trail, we could see the back side of Charleston Peak. Charlie still has large areas of snow on the front side but the steep back side is clear.

Pleasant Hike on No Name Trail
 About midway to the No Name saddle, there is a newly fallen very old bristlecone tree laying across the trail. A use trail is being made around what used to be a gorgeous twisted tree. Maybe there was too much snow (water) on its roots this year. Don't know.

Newly Fallen Huge Old Bristlecone Tree

Approaching No Name Saddle Area
 We took our snack break on the little hill next to the No Name saddle. Ahhh! What a gorgeous day in the mountains! We didn't really want to leave but the hike must go on. So, we started dropping down the No Name trail. A few years ago, this trail was slightly difficult to decipher. Now, due to high usage, the trail is very easy to follow as it drops down beside a small wash with a couple of small switchbacks. As it approaches the junction with the Upper Bristlecone Trail, No Name winds through an aspen grove.

Fantastic Place for our Picnic
 We gathered again at this junction then made a right turn onto Upper Bristlecone. This trail has really worn down and has very few rocks in the path in some places.

Descending No Name Trail
 It is one of the more popular trails in the Lee Canyon area and is used by bikers as well.

A Few Close-Ups from David Morrow (Charlie, Phlox, Paintbrush, Barberry)

Hiking through Aspens
The ski slopes appeared to our right as the trail came down to meet the road. Then, as a group, we turned down on a trail to the left right at the pavement. This trail circles around and down heading toward the campgrounds below. From the bottom of the hill, we followed Lee Canyon Road down to the Lower Bristlecone Trailhead where we had left our cars. This is a very nice 5 mile hike that contains quite the challenge in Pine Cone Canyon.

5 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Approaching Upper Bristlecone Trailhead

Down from Campground Trail

Finishing the Loop at Lower Bristlecone Trail

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