Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mountain Springs Loop - 11/25/17

Springs above Mountains Springs

Mountain Springs House from Trail Above

Tree on HCV Dirt Road

Sharing the Shade
 In the spring of 1844, the expedition of John C. Fremont discovered the shortcut route of the Fremont Cutoff, between Resting Springs and the Virgin River. Mountain Springs Summit was the mountain pass taken by this route over the Spring Mountains between the Pahrump Valley and the Las Vegas Springs in the Las Vegas Valley on the Old Spanish Trail. After 1848 it was followed by wagon trains on the Mormon Road, traveling between southern California and Salt Lake City, Utah. The summit was named for the nearby mountain springs, a watering place and a camping location at the top of the pass at the springs. ~ Wikipedia   (Resting Springs is the name of the springs in Tecopa, Calfornia.)

Crossing a Deep Wash
 Thirteen hikers drove up to the trailhead located on Mountain Springs Pass after a brief pit stop at the Late Night Trailhead.

"Ugly Betty" Agave Roasting Pit
 We hiked up the road/trail and turned left onto a shortcut trail. This took us over to another high clearance vehicle dirt road that led us on a journey through a maze of dirt roads.

Leaving a Pristine Agave Roasting Pit

Tree and Cactus on Mountain Springs Trail
 We avoided a previous snafu of a deep wash crossing by taking a different road and, this time, we found that Early Native American agave roasting pit on the left side. It was not in very good condition but it was the first of five ARPs that we would pass this morning. Back on the road we dipped around and passed the best ARP that is still pristine without any large plants in its middle. We had begun seeing a lot of different animal tracks in the dirt. The most prevalent was elk and we saw their evidence throughout our hike. We also saw fox, mountain lion and deer tracks. This area must be very active in the middle of the night and early morning. We curved around and found a very small trail that turns to the right.

Trail to Wash Junction
 This is also a shortcut trail and it ends at the southern end of the Mountain Springs Trail that travels along the back foothills of the escarpment of Red Rock Canyon NCA and the Rainbow Wilderness.

Hiking down the Wash
 This is a good trail to follow and is kept up by horses and riders out of Mountain Springs, Nevada. We followed it to a large flat wash just before the trail takes a turn up in elevation.

Trail Marker near bottom of Wash on Left

View from Snack Rock
 The gravel wash led us down easily and, not far before we reached the Rainbow Springs Road, we turned left onto a small trail marked with the sign seen in the photo above. This is a very vague trail but we were able to follow it. (The elk went thisaway!) Soon, we saw a large limestone outcropping rising on top of the hill to our left. We climbed the hill to take our break on the rock. There was a nice view from the top and we basked in the warm sun. Returning to the trail, we continued to follow it and found the old truck wreck at one of the springs. The spring was flowing pretty good. From there, we used the trail to pass the rock outcropping with a large cave and on to the Rainbow Springs Road junction.

Taking a Break on Snack Rock
 Turning left on the dirt road takes you up and around the top of the small mountain community where most of the springs are located. There are also a couple of trailheads up there.

Passing the Old Truck Wreck
 Fall is a pretty time to visit Mountain Springs, Nevada as you can see in the photo below.

Mountain Springs from Trail

Spring with Elk Wallow
We passed the springs then turned left where the community has placed large boulders across the road to keep off-roaders from driving near the third ARP. Dropping down past this and curving around the corner, we passed two more ARPs. From there, the route headed straight back toward the cars on a trail. We passed a ranch with two miniature horses behind the fence. It was a beautiful day with warm temperatures for this Thanksgiving weekend.

3.5 miles; 500 feet elevation gain; 2.25 hours

Third Agave Roasting Pit

Hiking the Trail back to the Cars

Miniature Horse

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