Friday

White Rock Loop Trail (RRCNCA)

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EFP-P1050044-P1050046
(Fig. 01)
White Rock Loop Trai-2l
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino take a right onto Las Vegas Blvd south (the Strip) to Sahara Ave. Turn right onto West Sahara Ave (NV-589) and continue to follow W. Sahara Ave to 10 miles until it turns into Desert Foothills Drive. Contine on for about 4.5 miles and turn left onto NV-159 (W. Charleston Blvd). Continue to follow NV-159 (which becomes Blue Diamond Road) west for about 4.5 miles and turn right onto Red Rock Canyon Rd. After entering Red Rock Canyon, drive approximate 6 miles to the White Rock Trailhead. Distance fro Point of Origin: 22.5 miles. Estimated (one Way) travel time: 45 minutes.
 
General Description: The White Rock Loop Trail is on the eastern edge of the 47,000-acre La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area, along the Scenic Loop Road in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. This is well-maintained trail runs around White Rock Mountain and the rest of the White Rock Hills (Fig. 01). This loop trail showcases the diversity found at Red Rock. It’s 6.3 miles passes through a variety of vegetation zones with grand views across Red Rock Valley on the east side, great views of the La Madre Mountains on the west side, some particularly interesting geology, and at least one archaeological site to the south. Obviously, this loop can be hiked from two different trailheads (White Rock or Willow Springs, (Fig. 02) and in two directions, either clockwise or counter-clockwise. Even though the elevation gains in either direction are relatively substantial, they are gradual, making this a moderately easy hike that is well worth the effort.


11/14/2013 Trip Notes: Five of the people in our group went to the White Rock Trailhead, two decided to hike the Pine Creek Canyon and the remainder visited the Visitors Center and made various stops around the 13-mile loop. At the end of the day we all met up at the Willow Spring Picnic Area for lunch and dessert to celebrate Bill’s birthday. Click here for pictures and info on the Pine Creek trail ... Pine Creek Canyon Trail.

At the White Rock Trailhead, two hiked down along the east face of the White Rock Hills to the Willow Springs Picnic Area. The remaining three of us hiked counter-clockwise to the northwest from White Rock Trailhead (elevation 4,883 feet). The northeast side hike is a 570-foot elevation gain through open desert Baja where shrubs are fairly dense and much of the ground surface is covered with vegetation. The vegetation along this portion of the trail is more-typical Mojave Desert Scrub, such as Creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), white bursage (Ambrosia dumosa),  Mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera), Banana yucca, and Tulip Pricklypear (Opuntia phaeacantha). Shortly after starting this trail, the Keystone Thrust Trail (Fig. 02) branches off to the right and runs east to a place where you can touch the Keystone Thrust, where there is older gray limestone rock lying on top of red sandstone. Turning around and looking back as you hike up this trail towards the saddle offered great sweeping views towards Turtlehead Peak (Figs. 03 & 04), Blue Diamond Hill, and Las Vegas. Before reaching the top of the saddle (elevation 5,453 feet), we were able to see the top of the La Madre Mountains to the west (Fig. 05). We also started to encounter a lot of Juniper and Pinyon pine, as well as many colorful sandstone rock formations (Figs. 06 & 07). That is my hiking partners, Mike and Miniko in (Fig. 06), and Miniko and myself in the center of (Fig. 07).
               
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(Fig. 03)
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(Fig. 04)
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(Fig. 05)
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(Fig. 06)
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(Fig. 07)
As we rounded the saddle and begin the long hike down, we were confronted with a grand view of the expansive valley (Fig. 08) between the La Madre Mountains and the White Rock Hills. Both sides are faulted, tilted, twisted, and have high cliffs. At the higher elevation to the west are the old grey limestone cliffs of La Madre Mountains with dense vegetation (juniper, pinyon, manzanita, oak). To the east (the west side of the White Rock Hills), the trail down is on red soil and provided incredible views of the west face of the White Rock Hills with its red and white, slick rock sandstone cliffs, crevices and ledges for big horn sheep and other wildlife that prefer this area. The vegetation along the trail is typical of higher-elevation pinyon-juniper forests and provides nice shaded areas. About third of the way down we climbed up into a large outcrop along the east side of the trail (Fig. 09) for some unique views into the bottom of the valley (Figs. 10 & 11). Just beyond this point I was looking around for some voices I had been hearing for a while, when I looked up and saw seven hikers on the top of the White Rock Hills (Fig. 12). The shot in (Fig. 13) (click to enlarge) was taken with the 20x zoom on my camera. Every once in a while I stopped to capture views looking back up the trail that we had been hiking (Fig. 14). The remainder of the trail down provided great views of the western ridges of the White Rock Hills as well a southwest views of the La Madre Range and Mount Wilson (Fig. 15). 
EFP-P1050080-P1050081
(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 09)
EFP-P1050091
(Fig. 10)
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(Fig. 11)
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(Fig. 12)
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(Fig. 13)
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(Fig. 14)
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(Fig. 15)
As we neared the bottom of the valley the trail merged with the La Madre Spring Trail and followed an old jeep trail and the Red Rock Wash until it reached Rocky Gap Road. There is a sign here that indicates you are leaving the La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area. From this point the trail heads southeast down Red Rock Wash (Figs. 16-18) until it reaches the Willow Springs Picnic Area (elevation 4,568 feet). When hiking down Rocky Gap Road, we were provided head on views of Blue Diamond Hill (Fig. 19). The south side of the White Rock Hills has a pleasant, shady picnic area (Fig. 20) and small spring, offering views of North Peak’s sandstone cliffs and Bridge Mountain. The changing colors of the Fremont’s Cottonwood trees here were spectacular (Fig. 21). From here, to continue the loop, the trail follows an old jeep trail that circles around the southern-most point of the White Rock Hills and the heads northeast for about two miles back to the upper White Rock Trailhead (Fig. 02). The final picture (Fig. 22 is a collage of shots taken while everyone was sitting around eating lunch and wishing Bill a happy birthday.
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(Fig. 16)
EFP-P1050122
(Fig. 17)
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(Fig. 18)
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(Fig. 19)
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(Fig. 20)
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(Fig. 21)
2013 Bill_s Birthday
(Fig. 22)