|Gateway to Plateau Crossover|
|Old Dam used to Water Cattle|
|Banana Yucca Bloom|
" - To walk or progress with a slow heavy pace such as uphill in deep gravel. But we get ahead of ourselves.
Brownstone Canyon lies on the hiking outskirts of the reaches of the Red Rock Canyon NCA scenic loop. It is the next canyon over after Gray Cap Peak and its ridge. Within Brownstone Canyon, there are beautiful painted pictographs and chiseled petroglyphs put there by native Paiutes who lived a thousand years ago. These writings are well-preserved. Thanks for keeping them that way.
Fifteen hikers began their loop hike from Sandstone Quarry. Before taking the left turn wash from the Calico Tanks Trail, we passed blooming Banana Yuccas and Redbud Trees. As we made our way over to the Rattlesnake Trail, conversation was non-stop!
We used the small slot today. There was one obstacle puddle but we climbed around it.
|Climbing through Small Slot|
From there, we climbed the sandstone in a couple of different ways to end up on the Rattlesnake Trail that travels around the north side of the Calico Hills.
|Scrambling over to the Rattlesnake Trail|
|Bighorns on the Hill|
We stopped at the base of Red Cap for a short water break and someone in the group felt many eyes upon us! Up on the hill leading to the backside of Turtlehead Peak, there were eight or nine male bighorn sheep lying on the ground. The white one was there, too. They watched us and did not seem alarmed. Their distance from us is seen in the photo to the left. Below, a close-up photo is given. This is the position we found them in and it is the same position we left them in.
|Close-Up of Lounging Bighorns|
We passed them still at a distance as we descended down through the Rattlesnake Trail canyon.
|Gray Cap from Rattlesnake Trail|
The canyon went by fast as we were still trying to warm up. It was a cool morning and the wind came and went throughout the hike.
|Starting Scramble up Upper Gateway Canyon|
|Tackling a Dry Fall in Upper Gateway Canyon|
We junctioned with Gateway Canyon and turned left. The real scrambling began. Upper Gateway Canyon is great fun. It provides many limestone dry falls to climb. All the falls have different challenges. Today's hikers were familiar with the dry fall choreography. As Upper Gateway climbs go, this was a quick and smooth one. We took a few breathers but they were not long. We saved the longer rest for the limestone / sandstone line at the top of the canyon.
|Small Sandstone Canyon on way to Crossover Plateau|
Next, we turned to the left and balanced the geologic line up a few dry water slides. Halfway up to the top, we turned into the small sandstone canyon here.
|Small Sandstone Canyon Scrambling|
This beautiful little canyon provides some nice scrambling and a great way to get up to the ridge plateau crossover.
|Zigzagging our way up the Dry Fall in the Small Canyon|
|Climbing through the Following Canyon Wash|
At the high three level dry fall (read "black marks on the sandstone") on the left side of the canyon, we climbed up to start a zigzag dry fall ascent. It is safe, fun and a fast way to gain elevation. At the top, we followed the feeding canyon wash around and squeezed our way up to the plateau. We found the nice shallow tenaja but it was dry so we marched right through the tank and found our target rock outcropping ... the one that encloses that really big deep tank.
|Advancing across the Plateau Crossover|
This tank had water but it only covered about 2/3 of the bottom. We passed it and dropped down to find the Brownstone Canyon Crack.
|Dropping down through the Brownstone Canyon Crack|
The line of hikers descended close enough together to help those who did not know this choreography. The descent went smoothly and ended right at the pictograph site.
|Snack Break at the Pictograph Area|
We took a nice snack break on the rocks in the sun. Comments were made at how nice it was to have a couple more minutes to digest their food! Perhaps it was the upcoming "slog" that prevented us from rushing into the next section of the hike! We gathered our packs and sticks and proceeded to slog up the gravel wash for what seemed like two miles. Actually, it was 0.7 mile when we had circled around a mound of red sandstone and found the inlet.
There was an old water trough that at one time had piped water flowing through it. The dam took advantage of the naturally flattish sandstone and indentation. Rocks were cemented to form the dam boundary.
|Leaving the Dam |
We took photos then headed for the saddle area that we could see to the west. Someday, we will find the beginning of the trail, here. Twice now, we have found the trail by chance a little later.
|The Target Saddle|
|On the Limestone Trail|
The little trail leads to an old road and, in turn, leads to the trail again. This time, the trail junctions with another road and we stayed on this road up to where it has a turnaround above a wash. This is the Brownstone Trail / Limestone Trail junction. We dropped into the wash and continued in the same direction. The wash narrowed. Finally, a trail on the left side took us steeply up to the saddle. A small break ensued. This is the hike's high point and we were all glad to start our descent.
|Reaching the Saddle with Damsel Peak(s) in Background|
On the saddle, we found a trail that leads down the other side. If you watch carefully, this trail and a few small cairns will take you down a ridge and into a medium sized wash.
|Limestone Trail dives into Gravel Wash|
The Limestone Trail continues down this beautiful wash displaying distant views of the Red Rock escarpment.
|Nice Views from Limestone Trail|
|Passing Turtlehead Peak|
After a particular boulder drop, the wash begins widening. It continues to get wider as you hike the easy descent down past the base of Turtlehead Peak. We looked up to our right to see a small herd of mule deer escaping our route. Bighorns and
mule deer! Getting closer to the Sandstone Quarry area, we connected with the Turtlehead Trail to finish. This is a great hike with many points of interest. Just be ready for the slog!
8 miles; 1900 feet elevation gain; 4.5 hours
|Mule Deer seen on Ridge above Limestone Trail|
|Escarpment in Distance|
|Arriving back in the Sandstone Quarry Area|