Saturday, January 26, 2019

Cowboy Horse Trails - 1/26/19

Climbing Horse Trail Peak

Calico Hills from Horse Trails

Rainbow and Bridgepoint Peaks from Horse Trails

Hiking behind the Horse Corral
 Cowboy Horse Trails is an easy to moderate hike in Red Rock Canyon NCA that uses old trails that have been used for trail rides on Red Rock's beautiful horses and mules. The trailhead is located on SR 159 across from the open Red Rock Canyon scenic loop route. This trailhead is used for many different hikes and bike routes so parking is usually at a premium. Ten hikers got there early and found a parking space. We hiked under the ranch gate where only ranch workers and trail ride customers can drive and turned left immediately. Right away, it was obvious that this was a trail that the horses used often. We followed their tracks and curved around to come up behind the corral.

Climbing the First Hill behind the Corral
 Along the way, we saw Jackson, the burro, watching us from his new digs. After that, we said "hello" to a few of the horses and mules behind the corral fence. Six horses were being teamed up to the upper hitching area for the day's excursion.

Calico Hills from the Climb
 An old trail crosses a rocky wash here and heads up the hill. The trail is so old and unused that it is difficult to find. Suffice it to say, the trail zigzags gently up the hill and becomes more clear at the top.

Ten Club Members on Horse Trail Peak

Rocky Descent
 Views of Red Rock are beautiful from the small ridge line that we found ourselves on. The old trail followed along the ridge to the other end where there was a slightly higher hill. After views and a photo, we circled around and descended the hill on the old trail that is very rocky and has several boards holding back the soil. Be very careful here with your footing! At the bottom, we circled around to the right following the original horse trail. It poured down into Red Rock Wash and we slogged along for a few minutes. Finally, the trail climbs up the embankment to the right. The soil underfoot is much softer here and we curved around a junction to the left. This trail headed straight for a small canyon at the base of the Muffins hill.

Horse Trail through Gravel Wash
 The small canyon wash is very nice to hike through with beautiful views of the Calico Hills when you looked back. We stopped at one point to have our break.

Gravel Wash and Rainbow Peak
 It was getting warm so we continued up the wash to the junction with the Muffins/Skull Trail. Here, as we walked by, one hiker noticed a very nice shell fossil in a big trailside boulder.

Mt. Wilson rises across from Horse Trails

Starting up Small Canyon at Base of Muffins Hill
 We hiked through the hitching wire and around Boneshaker Hill. Not taking the "normal" way back, we took a slightly longer route that crossed over to near the upper hitching corral. From there, the route crosses the dirt road and follows another trail back to the cars. It was a very pleasant morning hiking slow and protecting body parts! A very nice way to open the park again after the record breaking shutdown.

3.5 miles; 400 feet elevation gain; 2 hours; average speed 1.5 mph

Gathering in the Small Canyon

Nice Shell Fossil

Hiking the Trails from the Muffins Above

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