Friday, May 4, 2018

Cave Canyon / Overlook / Muffins - 5/3/18

Snowy Spring Mountains from Cave Canyon

Old Las Vegas Overlook

The Muffins

Stagecoach at Upper Stables
But for the two fun dry falls in Cave Canyon, this hike would be named moderately strenuous. It is 7 miles full of scrambling, hiking, gorgeous views and lots of side-blotched lizards. (Yes, that is their name.) With the recent downpour of rains that Red Rock Canyon NCA experienced, there were several large red barrel cacti that were flattened in the wash. Squishy flattened! We avoided the large sticklers. So, thirteen (our favorite number) hikers met at the Cowboy Trails trailhead on Highway 159 for a hike in and on the North Blue Diamond Hills.

Heading up into Cave Canyon
Our first point of interest was the "new" stagecoach they have sitting up at the upper stables. We wondered how they would use it.

Climbing the Big Dry Fall in Cave Canyon
We dropped back behind the stables noting that they have done a lot of work on the "kitchen" area for the trail rides.

Checking out one of the Caves (graffiti photoshopped out)

Climbing up through Cave Canyon
Cave Canyon was ahead of us and we took the left fork. (The right fork is Echo Canyon; aka Fossil Canyon.) A steep climb follows the fork then we crossed the wash. A little more climbing and we came to the first and most challenging of the dry falls. As each hiker took on the 12' climb, someone mentioned a nearby fossil of a fish. Photos didn't do it justice so we will have to revisit the site. Up we went on a constant scramble. It was a cool early morning and a beautiful day. As we climbed, I noted that there didn't seem to be much evidence of a lot of traffic in this canyon ... especially after the graffiti covered cave entrance. They continue to clean this mess up but it continues to return.

Mummy Mountain beyond La Madre Range
There was a lot of overgrown brush and the trails that sometimes lead up along the left side of the wash were covered with red brome grass.

Scrambling up the Left Fork
We came to a fork in the wash. The right fork heads over to Echo Canyon. We took the left fork which kept us scrambling another half mile. The canyon ends in another dry fall that has three choices for ascent.

Reaching the SARS Trail

New Boneshaker Sign
This dry fall is legendary! Once, Doyle was climbing up the middle level side and almost put his hand on a rattlesnake! Today, no one climbed that side .... There is still a tad of wash above this; then the trail intersects with the SARS Trail. We turned to the left on the trail and hiked over to the new Boneshaker sign. Fancy! From there, we took a sharp right turn and began climbing the Radio Tower Trail that passes by the substation on the hill. We were still feeling pretty fresh with our hiking legs so we didn't stop until we reached the New Las Vegas Overlook on the cliff.

Climbing up past the Radio Tower
Of note throughout the hike, the strawberry hedgehog cacti were all blooming big time. There was one near the cliff that had 26 blooms and another 7 buds on it!

26 Blooms at New Las Vegas Overlook
We kind of thought the view of the rain washed city would be clear but it wasn't. It could have been a layer of humidity that covered the Strip.

Taking our Break at Overlook

Hiking down the Rim Trail
After the break, we turned north along the cliff. There is a trail that follows the cliff all the way to the Old Las Vegas Overlook. This is the Rim Trail and it has beautiful views of the Calico Hills as well as the city. A quick photo at the Old Overlook then we dipped down and back up to the top of the Muffins ridge. We took the Muffins Trail that circles around the high point of the Muffins ridge and, again, joined the Muffins rim trail. The back approach to the Muffins is very colorful with the Calico Hills serving as a backdrop to the large conglomerate outcroppings known as the Muffins.

Calico Hills from Rim Trail
We stopped at the Muffins for a water pause. The group was staying somewhat together needing only a minute or so to regather at times.

Rim Trail
Although it was getting warmer, an occasional cool breeze kept us comfortable. Plus, we were now on the way down.

Back Approach to the Muffins

Leaving the Muffins
The 1.5 miles descent from the Muffins is sometimes steep and sometimes flat. We kept our pace moderate and stopped twice for the last hikers to catch up. Finally down at the base of Boneshaker Hill, we circled around to the large horse and mule corral. There were a few changes here, too. More large tires lying around and the heap of ... whatever ... was gone. Glad to see King and company have better digs. Jackson (the stud burro) stood up as we passed his boudoir and we hiked into the trailhead. This is a very good 7 mile hike. Time to rest!

7 miles; 1400 feet elevation gain; 4.25 hours

Red Rock Escarpment from Muffins Descent

Descending the Muffins Trail

Reaching the Trailhead

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