Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Reverence Heights - 12/28/21

Bighorn Peak (L) and Reverence Heights Saddle from Approach

Reverence Community from Big Junction Overlook

Upper Trail toward Summerlin Peak

Toque Trail to Summerlin Peak
It was a cold and gray/brown day with threatening clouds coming in after the noon hour. Just two days prior, Ralyn and I had scoped out this six mile hike with clear glorious skies and no smog over the city. This time Rita and I visited the same trail to put the hike on the blog ... and it was a great workout. The forecast predicted some kind of precipitation starting around noon but, in the end, we were not moistened with anything. From the Buckskin Cliff Shadows Trailhead, we headed toward Summerlin Peak on the Toque Trail and through the wide wash curving this way and that. At the next trail intersection, we curved around to the left to pass above the beautiful housing community of Reverence. This trail leads just outside of the Red Rock Canyon NCA boundary. After passing the houses, the trail curved around to the left and began to climb a long incline up and around a small mountain. The trail afforded us views of the entrance to Reverence, the constructing of the next nice housing community and Damsel Peaks.

Crossing the Wide Wash between Cheyenne & Summerlin Peaks

Star Carlton Bluff behind Rita on the Lower Trail

Summerlin Peak Ridge (L) from "Around the Mountain"

Damsel Peaks from "Around the Mountain"
 Completing the mountain loop on the main trail, we climbed all the way up to a junction where the bikers have built two large cairns. Here, there are six trails coming into the saddle, including the one we were on. We chose the trail that continues climbing up and around the small peak ahead. At the next saddle, Big Junction, we had a great view of Reverence, northern Las Vegas, and a lot of mountains! (See the second photo of the entry.) Our route continued on the highest trail at this junction. It runs along a rock crest that we will call the Fault Trail. The steep trail tops out at Reverence Heights Saddle; a nice place to take a break. At this point, hikers and bikers are playing below the Summerlin & Bighorn Peaks Ridge. The trail continues up to another saddle that would add 1.5 miles (O&B) to the hike distance. However, here, we continued a tad down to a fork and took a left. This trail takes you around a small peak, Yikes Peak, on a narrow cliffy trail and down a few long switchbacks. 

Fault Trail climbs to Reverence Heights Saddle (Yikes Peak to Left)

Rita climbs the Fault Trail

Circling around Yikes Peak

Descending Switchbacks from Yikes Peak
 Depending on your ability, a couple of the corners will need to be circumvented. This trail comes back to the Big Junction where we followed the same trail back to the large cairns. On the other side of the saddle, the Upper Trail begins by switchbacking once down and around above the houses. This is a great trail that travels among the ridge rocks. (I hope you have some energy reserves!) It ends up across from the large cave below Summerlin Peak where you will turn right onto an old road, then turn right again onto the trail that we turned off of for the Lower Trail earlier. This trail will take hikers and bikers back across the wide wash and onto the Toque Trail ... and back to the trailhead. Half of this route is not seen yet on Google Earth. In fact, it appears that some of these area trails were in the making when the last satellite photo was taken. The trails from this route are some of the best that I have seen in the Cliff Shadows Trailhead area. Have fun!

Stats: 6 miles; 1100' gain; 3.5 hours

Double Trouble on Descent

Challenging Upper Trail

Sun makes an appearance on the Upper Trail (Cheyenne Mountain to Right)

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Blue Diamond Canyon #1 / Ridge Loop - 12/21/21

Entering Blue Diamond Canyon #1

Ruins of Blue Diamond Mining Equipment (Conveyer)

Brushy Entrance

Starting up Canyon
There were seven hikers on another great Hardy Hike in the Blue Diamond Canyons. This time, we parked at the junction of SR 159 and Arroyo. The most dangerous part of the hike is crossing the road there where cars think they are out of the limelight and step on the accelerator. (Be careful here.) There is no longer a fence deterring burros from getting into the road as you follow the path through the brush into Canyon #1. This canyon is one of the narrowest canyons across from Blue Diamond and there are several opportunities to do easy and short 3rd class climbs. We climbed up through the beautiful walls and found a fossil under our feet once in a while. There are a few catclaws and velcros here and there but, for the most part, they were out of our way.

An Easy 3rd Class Climb


Right Fork

View back to Blue Diamond and Mt. Potosi
When the canyon forks, either choice works but we took the right one and stayed up next to the left wall. The wall breaks up soon and we were able to climb up onto the terrain above. This is the area between the two fork choices. From here, we continued climbing up the ridge until we were almost to the small peak. A game trail led us around the peak to the right and we ended up on another saddle. Continuing up again, we veered to the right onto another game trail that led us up to the top ridge where we found an old road left by the Blue Diamond gypsum mining operation. At this time, the mining is done much further away but officially, we were still on their property. Turning to the right on the road, we headed for the conveyor ruins at the cliffs.

Hiking among the Cacti

Red Rock Escarpment from the Saddle

Hiking across the Saddle

Trail to Ridge
The mining ruins of the conveyor belt are unattended, however, please take it seriously when I say that they are NOT safe. We took our photos and break then returned to the beginning of the trail at the cliff on the end of the road. The trail follows along the high cliff above the gypsum plant with only about 10 feet to spare sometimes. On the ascent earlier, we had been noticing that the desert here was quite populated with cacti; mostly red barrels, hedgehogs and mojave yuccas. The ridge trail was no different. Every once in a while we would see fully mature pin cushions at our feet. We followed the ridge trail almost all the way down to the cliff at the end passing directly above the gypsum plant.

Mining Ruins Visit

Hiking down the adjacent Ridge

High above the Gypsum Plant

The Escarpment of the North Blue Diamond Hill
Finally, we turned to our right and started our descent on the more gentle slope on the last ridge. Below us, we saw a small canyon fork and our trajectory took us to the right of it where we could drop into the right fork. From there, we had to descend this small wash and scramble around an outcrop to the right to drop into yet another canyon fork before we could descend back to the original Canyon #1. Back down the class 3 scrambles, we crossed the road avoiding a speeding car. Short but sweet, this hike is very interesting and fun. Great group. Merry Christmas!

Stats: 3.5 miles; 950' gain; 3 hours

Long Descent from Ridge to Canyon

Descending the 3rd Class Climbs

One more Drop as David leads the Way

This map reflects the left choice at the canyon fork.

This map reflects the left choice at the canyon fork.

This map reflects the left choice at the canyon fork.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Firehouse Hill Long Loop - 12/20/21

Yellow Sandstone Section with Firehouse Hill in Distance

Starting down through Yellow Sandstone Section

Rainbow Peak from Trail along the Red Rock Wash Bluff

Starting out was Really Cold!
Many of you know about Firehouse Hill. We always marked it up to being an easy moderate hike up to the top of the large hill behind the BLM fire station near the Red Rock Canyon Campground and at the base of the North Blue Diamond Hill. In the last few years, many bike trails have been laid out in this area between the North Blue Diamond Hill and the basin at SR 159 west of CC 215. Many of these bike trails go for miles circling below the cliffs so hiking the trails completely would be difficult unless you are training for a long distance haul like our friends Brian, Larry, Susan, Sandi and Setsuko ... to name a few. However, with the help of Google Earth, we mapped out a 6.5 mile hike making a loop around and up and down the formidable Firehouse Hill that rises to the west of Moenkopi Road.

Trail Along the Bluff

Yellow Sandstone Saddle Descent

Bike Trail among the Sandstone

Rita in the Sandstone Section
We turned onto Moenkopi Road from SR 159 and the trailhead is almost immediately on your right. The sign says that this area is called the Moenkopi Road Recreation Site. We started hiking out from the sign toward the escarpment in the distance veering right on the path. This trail hikes along above the Red Rock Wash bluffs. This wash is very wide and can flash flood when the conditions are right. After the bluffs, the trail forks and take the left fork into the hills. This started us on a steady climb up to a saddle below the cliffs. Above us, we saw the Muffins and the old Las Vegas Overlook. At the saddle, the trail dropped down entering a large area of beautiful yellow sandstone formations. The bike trail is well-worn and it zigzags in and out among the sandstone layers. When we finished this area, the trail began leading across the arroyo filled terrain. We only met one biker all day. It was early and very very cold! The trail was built for bikers and each arroyo crossing was constructed with big flat rocks for their easier crossings. To our left, we were passing Firehouse Hill on its backside. Ahead of us, there was another smaller hill in the distance. This was our target for the turnaround and the beginning of the bushwhacking we would have to do to complete the route on feet instead of wheels.

Leaving Yellow Sandstone Section

A little Ingenuity

Getting a little Warmer

View Back at the Sandstone
Before we reached the smaller hill, the trail led us down through a large arroyo where we took our break. (See photo below.) Next, the trail turned downhill. When the trail turned to begin its journey to the south again, we left the trail and continued downhill bearing to the left. Our bushwhacking crossed over the east end of the smaller hill and began a straight hike over to the south ridge of Firehouse Hill. There was a vague trail that climbed Firehouse on this ridge. At the top, we were obliged to continue our bushwhacking toward the south side of the peak section of Firehouse Hill. There is a good trail that climbs to the peak with which we would cross paths. We did indeed do so and proceeded to complete our climb.

Bike Trail through Arroyos

Bushwhacking across to Firehouse Hill

Second bushwhack Section to Trail

Peak from below Trail
On the long top of the peak, there is a rocky outcropping (official high point) where we stopped to take our group photo. (See last photo.) From there, we continued on the trail to descend the north side of the mountain. This trail led us gently down a long slope to the trailhead. Although we sure wish there was a convenient trail from that smaller hill to Firehouse Hill, the bushwhacking really wasn't too bad across the desert terrain. The three of us had a lot of fun trying out the new beautiful moderately strenuous route. The weather did warm up after an hour or so!

Stats: 6.4 miles; 1100' gain; 3.5 hours

Eastside trail to Peak

Trail crossing Peak

The "Try-it-out" Threesome