Liberty Bell Arch

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Liberty Bell Arch-2
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Directions: The trailhead for this hike is located along Highway 93, south of the Hoover Dam in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 45 minutes southeast of Las Vegas. From Las Vegas, head south on US-93 towards Boulder City and the Hoover Dam and the Lake Mead NRA, crossing over the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial bridge into Arizona. At about Mile Post 4, watch for a left turn across the highway and a paved road leading to a large parking area east of the highway. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Description: Located near to White Rock Canyon, to the south of Hoover Dam, Liberty Bell Arch (Fig. 01) is a very impressive arch in a lovely setting. It has a span of 30 feet and a height of 25 feet. It is named after the famous bell in Philadelphia due to its shape and the crack in the span. There is also a small rock in the opening that could be thought of as a clanger. Although there is a use trail to the arch (Fig. 02) it is not well marked. About a mile and a half from the T/H, the trail passes an abandoned WW II magnesium mine complete with cables and an ore cart. The arch is only about ½ a mile northeast from an overlook (Fig. 02) that peers 1,000 feet down to the Colorado River. This last half mile is a steep, rocky trail that crosses several false saddles, with a significant elevation gain of nearly 550 feet to the the lip of the Black Canyon.

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09/24/2013 Trip Notes: Even though this hike broke my rule to never again take a hike that requires a 1.5 mile uphill return, Harvey and I decided to try it out. From the T/H at US-93 (Fig. 02)the route runs .89 miles down the hillside through White Rock Wash and provided some nice early morning views towards the narrows and mountains of the Black Canyon Wilderness Area along the way (Fig 03). Just before entering White Rock Canyon the route climbs northwest out of the wash, following the track of an old mining road (Fig. 02). About 1.5 miles you come upon an old WW II magnesium mine. The upper portion of the mine area has an ore chute laying on it side (Fig. 04). Ore was hauled up in ore buckets on a cable from the mine below (Fig.05). This chute, lying below a cable car, was used to funnel ore into trucks parked below the chute, that would then drive the ore back down the road and out for processing. A little further beyond this point, there is a spur trail that branches down to the actual mine. At the mine site there is an adit (Figs. 06 & 07) that goes back some 60 feet that still contains some tiny ore car tracks, old buckets and mining timbers (polyptych in Fig. 08). The area outside the mine also had variety of old buckets, timbers, junk, cables and the remnants of the bottom end of the areal cableway.
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Mine Cable
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Magnesium Mine
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After leaving the mine, we got our first look at the arch from a distance (Fig. 09). In this picture it is the dark little shady spot in the ridgeline just right of center. From here the use trail winds westward for about 3/4’s of a mile until it reaches the arch. A few hundred yards before reaching the arch we got a view of the Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial bridge (Fig. 10). As you get closer, the trail approaches the arch from the unfamiliar backside (Fig. 11). However, once you wind around to its south facing front side you are fully able to understand how it got its name (Fig. 12). We actually spent considerable time hiking around here, in fact, Harvey even made a failed attempt to scale the front side in an attempt to get to the top. On the way back down he posed for a shot at its base (Fig. 13). Unfortunately for me, I “pulled” my hip when I slipped hiking up a side hill in front of the arch while trying to get a better picture angle. This minor injury caused me severe pain and slowed my hiking for the remainder of the day. After taking numerous pictures, we decided to continue on to the Black Canyon Overlook.
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This last portion of the hike was approximately .55 miles, with an elevation gain of nearly 550 feet, and was by far the toughest part of the hike. The good news being that reaching a final elevation 1,707 feet, the views of the Colorado River nearly 1,000 feet below us, were stupendous (Figs. 14 & 15). While we were sitting and enjoying lunch, admiring the views of the river below (Fig. 16) we spotted a group of nine people kayaking up the river (Fig. 17). Sitting here peering out over this truly gorgeous landscape made us both think about the thousands of people that live in the area that never get to experience views anything like this.  After a few final pictures looking north towards the bridge and the Hoover Dam (Figs. 18 & 19), we turned around and started the 3-mile trek back. Though the downhill sections of the trail weren’t too bad, the uphill portions became quite painful on my hip, causing me to stop every several hundred feet. When we finally reached the White River Wash and began the .89 mile trek up the sandy wash, I was reminded why I had vowed to never take another hike that ended in an “uphill” climb. After having already hiked more than five miles, this last stretch was exhausting. We stopped at the Hacienda Casino for lunch, upon which I had a chocolate shake and a bowl of chocolate ice cream. A truly delicious way to end a superb day.
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