Sunday, August 5, 2018

Old Deer Creek Road / Champion Ridge - 8/4/18

View Down Lee Canyon from Champion Ridge

Mummy's Nose from Rocky Peak Overlook

Desert Paintbrush atop Champion Ridge

Starting up Old Deer Creek Road
We were feelin' the love today as fourteen veteran AtBF hikers hit the trail off Deer Creek Road at the Orange Trail Trailhead. This trailhead is difficult to find for the first time, especially if you are going north toward Lee Canyon Road. If you are going south from Lee Canyon, simply pass the Desert View Overlook and take the second turnout on the left. However, if you are going north on Deer Creek, pass Archery Range Road, pass the solar array on the right, pass one more turnout on the right, then take the next turnout on the right. Although this trailhead is not marked, the Orange Trail (aka Deer Creek/Catch Pen Loop) leaves the road to the east here. The trail we used today, is across the road to the west.

Old Deer Creek Road
The Old Deer Creek Road comes in across the road from the Orange TH. It is also a large junction of old dirt roads where the Seven Mile Canyon and Lost Arrow Spur Roads converge.

Mummy's Nose from Rocky Peak Junction

On top Rocky Peak
We entered the large junction and turned to the right to connect with the continuance of the Old Deer Creek Road. A gradual climb curved us around to the top of a descending ridge. This is the Rocky Peak junction. Rocky Peak is really just a very small outcropping with a fantastic overlook of the surrounding area that includes Mummy's Nose, the Sisters Ridge and the Desert View Overlook. It was a warm day. However, on the little rocky peak, the breeze was incredibly cool. It felt fantastic! After the side trip, we returned to the old dirt road passing through someone's campsite. (They looked a little hungover, jus' sayin'.)

Rocky Peak Overlook
On the road again ... 🎵... we began a long gradual descent as the road traversed around the contour of Mummy Mountain above.

Continuing down Old Deer Creek Road
Occasionally, there were large spots of tree shade where we could stop and drink water on this hot day.

The Message - "Don't Drink and Drive!"

Old Deer Creek Road
Our next point of interest was the old car. I had been alerted that there was a special surprise waiting at the old car and we laughed at what we saw! Someone has placed a plastic skeleton in the driver's seat! Moving on, we passed the gated road that turns down toward the new Deer Creek Road. There is a private house near here, and I often wonder if this is on their property. Our route continues by the gate into a section of the old road that is not as well maintained. It passes by the "steps to nowhere" (a big mystery) and arrives at a sharp turn to the right leading down the hill.

The Stairs to Nowhere
The trail led down to cross the pavement of Deer Creek Road. We walked down and crossed the road where our dirt road continued up onto a ridge. This is Champion Ridge.

Crossing new Deer Creek Road
There is a large campsite here at the beginning of the ridge and there was evidence that someone had been there recently. (People! Please pack out your trash!) There was even a large bag of trash hanging from a limb that had been ignored during the bug out. We took it when we left.

Champion Ridge

Hiking down Ridge with Sisters Ridge in Background
Our hike continued down the edge of the rock ridge that cliffed out above Champion Road and Lee Canyon. Across Lee Canyon was the Sisters Ridge. (L to R: South Sister, North Sister, White Sister, Black Sister) Below that, we saw Macks Canyon Road and the Sawmill Trailhead. We walked carefully along the Mississippian Monte Cristo Limestone to a stopping point and took in the great views all around. Next, we returned back up the ridge to the campsite for our break. While sitting, we noticed a large ringbolt at our feet sticking in the ground. Was this cliff ever used for lifting logs or something with a pulley system?

Ellie and Peter taking a Break
Desert Paintbrush dotted the ground around us. There was shade and plenty of rocks to sit on. And, you can't easily beat the view!

Milo and Marg taking their Break

Waiting for the end of the Line in Shade
After the break, we had a long hill to climb for the out and back hike. We climbed slow with several stops and just before we really got overheated, a perfect size light gray cloud covered the sun and gave us some relief. At the Rocky Peak junction, the gradual ascent returned to a gradual descent and we finished the hike together. I felt the love today! Good old friends. (Pun, not intended.)

3.5 miles; 650 feet elevation gain; 2.5 hours

Three Lakes Valley from Spring Mountains

The Last Hill to Rocky Peak Junction

Descent to the Trailhead

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