Sunday, July 2, 2017

Big Falls / Mary Jane Falls - 7/2/17

Big Falls with Pool

Big Falls Creek

Mary Jane Falls

Starting Up Big Falls Wash
 Big Falls and Mary Jane Falls are both seasonal waterfalls that rise on opposite sides at the top of Kyle Canyon in the Spring Mountains NRA. While Mary Jane Falls is a very popular recreational hike, Big Falls is only known by the more avid hikers. Both share the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead found by following the signs past the Trail Canyon Trailhead off of Echo Road, off of Kyle Canyon Road. Eleven hikers got an early start and were able to capture parking spaces that were going for a premium when we finished the hike! The air was wonderfully cool at 59 degrees.

Obstacle Rock in Distance
 In May of this year, a group of club hikers made the trip up to Big Falls (see archive) and half of the hike was in the snow. Today's hike was very different. The snow has melted, except for a couple of patches on the hillsides.

Anyone for a dip?
 It is, again, necessary to hike up and around Obstacle Rock; which we did on the left side of the wash (going up). And, water was flowing strong down the wash from just below Obstacle Rock and up providing small waterfalls and opportunities to get those waterproof hiking boots wet!
Reaching the Top of the Wash

Rita surveys Big Falls
 The scramble up the wash is best done either in the wash or as close to it as possible. The trails that lead up the hill on the right side are very steep and loose making the hiking very tough. When we arrived at the top and curved around to the left, we were presented with a full flowing waterfall complete with a large pool at its base. Big Falls has not looked this beautiful in several years. The group took several photos and climbed around behind the waterfall as well. Comments were made that it would be nice to just lay back and read a book here while listening to the water.

Group at Big Falls
 After only about five or ten minutes, we started back down. We weren't far down the wash when we spied a mule deer trying to figure out which way to go on the wash hillside.

Leaving Big Falls
 The scramble down probably took more time than the scramble up. It is best to keep telling yourself that all the rocks in this wash are slippery.

Tricky Scramble Down

Oh, Hello!
 Therefore, we were being very cautious and slow as we made our way down next to the creek. We went up and around Obstacle Rock the same way we had before then turned back on ourselves to take a closer look at the huge rock stuck between the two sides of the canyon wash. It had a waterfall flowing down next to it. We continued our careful progress then just after climbing out of the wash where we had come in, we stopped for our break. There were some logs lying around in the shade and it seemed like a great place to rest for a minute.

Obstacle Rock
 The group was happy to be spending time in the cool of the mountains. And, we seemed to have found a spot to rest where there were no other hikers on such a bustling day.

Still Scrambling
 Afterwards, we hiked over to the old road/trail route that leads up to Mary Jane Falls. This straight shot up to the falls was used before the switchbacks were installed.

Nearing the Bottom

View down Kyle Canyon
 The climb up the old road/trail is very steep but the group was up for the challenge. There are several fallen trees across the trail that we had to go around. And, we could see hikers on the switchbacks up to our right. The final climb from the road/trail to the cliff base area is the most difficult. We tackled it a couple of different ways but everyone made it just fine. There were many recreational hikers climbing around the cliff base, including kids and dogs! It's a good place to take your family!

Taking our Break
 Four hikers took the short excursion over to the cave. There were a group of young men camping inside the cave but we were invited to come in and take our photos anyway.

Climbing the Steep Old Road/Trail
 There is a great view down Kyle Canyon from this vantage point as seen a couple of photos below.

Nearing the Top of the Old Road/Trail

Just below Mary Jane Falls
 When we returned to the cliff base, everyone was ready for the descent down the switchbacks. This is where we passed about a ton of people hiking on the July 4th weekend. There are about eight switchbacks before the trail reaches the old road/trail that takes hikers back to the cars at the trailhead. We descended easily while carrying on several different conversations. This hike is loaded with different types of hiking, terrain and water features. Mainly, we enjoyed seeing Big Falls at its best. Hurry, and you can, too!

4.5 miles; 1600 feet elevation gain; 3 hours

Taking in View from Mary Jane Falls Cave

Returning via the Switchbacks

Heading down to the Trailhead

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