Saturday, July 21, 2018

Lee Canyon Narrows / Champion Road Loop - 7/21/18

Lee Canyon Narrows from Top

Lee Canyon Narrows from Bottom

Starting out on Champion Road (Note: Blue Sky)

Descending to Wash Crossing
 Out for a nice Saturday hike, ten club members started from the Sawmill Trailhead on Lee Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains NRA. On our way up Lee Canyon Road, we watched Mummy Mountain. This view is "his" best side! His high peaks are made from Cambrian rocks which are 540 to 490 million years old. The upper plate of this thrust has placed this older rock over Ordovician rocks which are a mere 490 to 443 millions years old. Another fun fact: Lee Canyon meadow (just up the road) is the only mountain meadow for more than 150 miles in any direction! ~ Geologic Tours in the Las Vegas Area (Expanded Edition with GPS Coordinates), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology Special Publication 16, University of Nevada, Reno, Mackay School of Earth Sciences, 2008, Bear Printing, Sparks, NV; pages 46 & 47.

Trail Descent from Deer Creek Road
 The Sawmill Trailhead is a picnic area, equestrian trailhead, and a hub to many lower elevation hiking trails. We started out by crossing Lee Canyon Road to descend into Lee Canyon via Champion Road.

Hiking down Shady Lee Canyon Wash
 Champion Road is a dirt road with many primitive campsites and, today, there were campers all along the road.

Tunnel of Mountain Mahogany

Entering first Narrows
 The road, itself, is not in good enough condition for sedans but should be navigable by high clearance vehicles. We crossed the Lee Canyon wash and continued up the road all the way to the junction with Deer Creek Road. There was a lot of traffic today; probably because the weather, this morning, was better than it has been lately. We turned to the right and hiked behind the guardrail until we reached a small trail that turned to the right. This trail took us down into the Lee Canyon wash below. Once at the bottom, we began hiking down the freshly cleaned wash. Recent rain has rearranged most of the waterways and ruts.

Small Windows Ahead
 We hiked down through a beautiful mountain mahogany tunnel and reached the Champion Road crossing where we had been in the beginning.

Old Car - Almost Reclaimed
 Continuing down the wash, we passed through a rock-walled section. There were small windows in the rock up to the right. Next, we passed an old car in the wash that has been flooded through many times.

Entering top of Lee Canyon Narrows

Up & Around
 Finally, we reached the top of the official Lee Canyon Narrows. We peered down to an area with a chock block boulder. The up and around trail was behind us so we returned to its junction. This section of the Blue Trail took us up and around the narrows then we turned back to our right and hiked up the wash to enter the narrows from the bottom. Explorations under the big chock block ensued then we took our break. It was cool within the walls and there were a couple of places to sit. Afterwards, we returned to the up and around trail. The usual connecting trail was deeply washed out so we went all the way down to the bottom to turn onto the trail.

Enjoying the Lee Canyon Narrows
 After hiking back up the steepish hill, we dropped down and stayed on the trail. Interestingly, this trail had been the pathway for some of the flooding from the wash very near the old car that is being reclaimed here.

Taking a Break
 The trail reaches a turn to the right and climbs the hill back up to Lee Canyon Road. We crossed the pavement then connected with Cardamine Road, a dirt road that runs up the hill to the Sawmill Trailhead.

Up & Around Again

Narrows from Above
 We preferred not to hike the pavement of the trailhead area so we turned to the right at the equestrian end onto the Yellow Trail. Taking two or three signed left turns on the Yellow Trail brought us right back to the cars on the other end of the trailhead pavement. It was a very enjoyable morning without threat of rain ... for a change. Great group of friends!

5 miles; 850 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Packard Reclaimed by Recent Floods

Trail up to Lee Canyon Road

Mummy's Nose in a Cloudy Sky

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