2015 - Year in Review

At the end of each calendar year I review all of my hiking posts for the year and attempt to select what I feel are the better pictures worth sharing again. For display purposes, I then group them into 11 basic categories: Desert Landscapes, Desert Foliage, Desert Wildlife, Rock Art, Nevada Mines, Trees & Wood Textures, Desert Fossils Remains, Rocks & Formations, Desert Water, Mountain Landscapes, and People & Faces. 

Two things made this late in coming. First, I started this project quite late into the new year. Second, because I decided to associate each selected picture with the hyperlink of the hike in which the picture was taken, this project took much longer than I anticipated. The good news is it is finally finished it. The end result is a compilation of more than 125 photos that will take you on a virtual tour to more than 40 of the hikes I took in 2015. I hope you enjoy. Check it out here ... 2015 - Year in Review


Daytrip - Calico Hill Trail Hike - (RRCNCA)

This past week, Blake Smith, Robert Croke, Harvey Smith, Ron Ziance and I decided to hike the Calico Hills are a 3.2 mile long section of brilliantly red sandstone cliffs, easily what is one of the Red Rock Canyon's most beautiful features. Below the road, at the base of the hills, there are numerous trails that traverse open country with interesting rocks, fossils, birds, rock art, contrasting vegetation types, and grand scenery all around. The main trail is known as The Calico Hills Trail.  runs one-way from the Entrance Station to Sandstone Quarry. Click here for pictures and description … Calico Hill Trail Hike - (RRCNCA).


Daytrip - First Creek Trail and Falls Hike (RRCNCA)

EP-P1130714On 12/01, Blake Smith, Robert Croke, Ron Ziance and I decided to head out to Cottonwood Valley to hike the First Creek Trail. This hike is wrestled between Oak Creek and Spring Mountain Ranch in the middle of the desert Cottonwood Valley, beneath the towering red-and-white Wilson Cliffs in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. First Creek Canyon is home to a very well known secret: the waterfall. But most people will never see it because it’s quite well hidden. Click here for pictures and description … First Creek Trail & Falls Hike (RRCNCA).

Daytrip – Keystone Thrust Fault Hike

EP-Keystone Fault 04The Keystone Thrust Fault is considered the most significant geological feature in Red Rock Canyon. The Keystone Thrust Fault extends from the Cottonwood Fault along State Route 160 north for 13 miles along the crest of the Red Rock escarpment. It then curves east along the base of La Madre Mountain before it is obscured by very complex faulting north of the Calico Hills. The escarpment in Red Rock Canyon NCA provides examples of one of the most dramatic and easily identified thrust faults to be found anywhere. This is a moderately difficult, in-and-out hike, is roughly 2.2 miles and only take about a 1.5 hours. Click her to view …Keystone Thrust Fault Trail – RRNCA.

Daytrip - Crystal Wash Rock Art - Main Site

EP-P1130641Crystal Wash Rock Art site is located about 110 miles north of Las Vegas, off Highway 93, past Alamo and Ash Springs. Evidence found in these rocks and the hillside beyond, indicates that this area was frequented by an ancient culture of people known as the Pahranagats, one of several known Southern Paiute groups. The Pahranagats represented a long-standing tradition of hunter-gatherer life ways over a period of time covering several thousand years. The size of this site is large enough to have accommodated a village of several small families. Click here for pictures and description … Crystal Wash Rock Art Site - Summary.


Calico Hills Trail Hike (RRCNCA)

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This page last updated on 04/10/2018
Destination: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Distance from Point of Origin: 22 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 40 minutes.
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 for 10 miles until it turns into Desert Foothills Drive. Continue on for another 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 Scenic Drive which leads into the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (RRCNCA). After paying the entrance fee, bear right at the fork to stay on the 16 mile Scenic Loop road. Drive 2.75 miles to Sandstone Quarry Road and turn right. Drive about .10 mile to the parking area. This is the trailhead to the Calico II hike.
Area Description: Once inside the Red Rock Canyon park, the Calico Hills are a 3.2 mile long section of brilliantly red sandstone cliffs, easily what is one of the park’s most beautiful features (1). Along this stretch that parallels the parks’ 13-mile loop road, there are two main stopping parking areas, Calico I and Calico II. Below the road, at the base of the hills, there are numerous trails that traverse open country with interesting rocks, fossils, birds, rock art, contrasting vegetation types, and grand scenery all around. The trail known as The Calico Hills Trail runs one-way from the Entrance Station to Sandstone Quarry. The trail (in red) show on (Fig. 02) is actually the southern half of the Calico Hill Loop Trail.
Special Attraction or Points of Interest: Between Calico II and Sandstone Quarry, there are some large boulders that contain some ancient petroglyphs. 
Primary Activity: Hiking and Photography.
Secondary Activities: Birding.
Elevation: The elevation from the trailhead at Sandstone Quarry is 4,308 feet. Heading south the lowest point of the trail is 3,521 feet for a total drop in elevation of 787 feet. 
Best Time To Visit: During the cooler months of Spring and Fall.
Hike Description
: This hike can be considered a series of trail segments that can start and stop at any of 4 trailheads; 3 along the Scenic Loop Road and 1 at Red Spring south in Calico Basin. If you start at the Sandstone Quarry trailhead and hike all the way to the Red Spring trailhead in Calico Basin there is a cumulative hiking drop of 837. Unfortunately, hiking the washes at the base of the Calico Hill, you end up hiking up and down a series alluvial fans, rocky outcroppings and gullies that add nearly 300 feet of uphill climbing as you descend the full length of the hike. If you don’t park a second car at Calico Basin, you would have to hike up nearly 800 feet to return to the Sandstone Quarry trailhead.Difficulty
:  Though many of the trails are a lot of loose stones and gravel, most of the runs on easy, gently sloping trails, but there are a few steep parts and some off-trails in a wash. Needless to say, we thought this trails was more difficult than we had anticipated.                           
Facilities: There are facilities at both the Sandstone Quarry and Red Spring south trailhead, but nothing for the length of the roughly 3-mile hike in between. 
Estimated Round-trip Time: The total distance of the hike shown in (Fig. 02), including some backtracking we had to do in one of the wash canyon areas (D) on (Fig. 02), was 3.84 miles. Because we made many stops for conversation, talking with other hikers, watching climbers on the walls of the hills, taking pictures, etc. this hike took us nearly 4 hours. I estimate that most people could complete the entire round trip hike in about 4.5 hours. What we did was to take two vehicles, parking one at the Red Spring south trailhead and then driving the other vehicle to the Sandstone Quarry trailhead, thereby eliminating the return hike.

(Fig. 02)
12/09/2015 Trip Notes: Today, Harvey Smith, Blake Smith, Robert Croke, Ron Ziance and myself decided to head out to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to hike the Calico Hills Trail. To do this hike, we decided to leave a vehicle at the Red Spring trailhead in Calico Basin and then drive a second vehicle to the Sandstone Quarry trailhead above Calico II. We then hiked the Calico Hills Trail to Calico Basin (Fig. 02). For a more detailed description of the hike, refer to the information noted above. Unfortunately, it was a very overcast day and did not provide the best lighting for picture taking, causing many of today’s pictures be a little dark. 

Sandstone Quarry Trailhead to Calico I: From the Sandstone trailhead, the view in (Fig. 03) is looking southeast toward the trails first ridge. After topping this first ridge, the trail started working it way down, closer to the bottom of the wash at the base red sandstone cliffs. In the wash we spotted some large eroded sandstone rocks, that almost appeared like a ‘spaceship’ (Fig. 04). About where the spot marked (A) on (Fig. 02) we spotted the first of several groups of people (Fig. 05 & 06) that were rope climbing the steep hillsides of Calico hills. After climbing up to another ridgeline we once again started working our way back to the wash. About halfway down, marked (B) on (Fig. 02), we came upon some large sandstone boulders, some of which contained some petroglyphs (Fig. 07). After passing this area, the trail yet again worked it way up to the top of another ridge – near (C)  on (Fig. 02). Taken from the top of this ridge, the view in (Fig. 08) is looking back (northwest). The very dark red sandstone boulders in the center of this picture are where the petroglyphs are located. . Looking forward from this ridge (Fig. 09), you can see the the trail leading up to the Calico II parking observation area at the center of the picture. (Con’t below)

(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)

(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)

Calico II to Calico I: From Calico II the trail once again drops down into the wash, following the base of the red sandstone hills (Figs. 10 & 11). As you approach Calico I the trail follows along a wash that is filled with green vegetation. The view in (Fig. 12) is looking back  (northwest) towards Calico II. Again, as you approach the Calico I observation area, the trail climbs up to a point just below Calico I, and then heads steeply down to the wash once again.

(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 12)
Calico I to Red Spring at Calico Basin: A short distance after leaving the Calico I area, the trail led steeply down back into the wash. At the bottom, the trail splits. (see close-up in Fig. 13) . As seen in (Fig. 13), the upper trail (red & yellow) to the left heads down, deeper into the wash. The lower trail (red) to the right is a 200 foot climb up yet another very steep hill to the top of the ridgeline (marked (B) on (Fig. 13). After hiking about 0.3 miles down the trail to the left, we were confronted with some difficult bouldering. We found this area, marked (A) on (Fig. 13). too be too difficult for us, and we turned around and headed back to the intersection and the took the trail to the right up the very steep hill. The (Fig. 12) shows the elevation difference between these to trails. As you can tell from the close-up map in (Fig. 13), this route not only required a difficult uphill hike, it was much longer than the hike would have been down the wash. From the top of the hill, the picture in (Fig. 14) is looking down onto the trail that ran down the wash. Just beyond this point we were confronted with the unusual rock formation seen in (Fig. 15). After descending this hill the trail crosses the wash, area (C) in (Fig. 13), and then begins uphill into an area of red sandstone that had some very interesting boulders that had been shaped by thousands of years of erosion (Figs. 16-19). We even found another boulder with some petroglyphs (Fig. 19).(Con’t below)


(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)

The Final Leg – Red Spring: As we rounded the southern most tip of the Calico Hill (Fig. 20) we could see the old jeep road (Fig. 21) that led to the top of the ridge overlooking Red Spring and Calico Basin (Fig. 22). The view in (Fig. 20) was taken looking back (south) from halfway up the old jeep road. If you click on this picture to enlarge, you can see my fellow hikers (middle right) of the picture. The view in (Fig. 23) is looking south, back toward Red Rock Canyon. The pictures in (Figs. 24-29) are some miscellaneous pictures taken along the course of our hike. After a nice picnic lunch at the Red Spring picnic area, we got into our car for the drive back to our hike trailhead at the Sandstone Quarry inside Red Rock Canyon park. Though this hike ended up being much more difficult that any of us had anticipated, we all agreed that it was a good day. I must pay thanks to my fellow hiker, Robert Croke, for the maps and hike data provided by his GPS.
(Fig. 20)

(Fig. 21)
(Fig. 22)
(Fig. 23)
(Fig. 24)
(Fig. 25)
(Fig. 26)
(Fig. 28)
(Fig. 29)

Oak Creek & Wilson's Pimple Loop Trail - RRCNCA

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This page last updated on 04/14/2018
(Fig. 01)

Destination: Oak Creek/Wilson's Pimple Loop Hike
Distance from Point of Origin27 miles..
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time35-40 minutes.
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 for 10 miles until it turns into Desert Foothills Drive. Continue on for about 4.5 miles and turn left onto NV-159 W. Charleston Blvd. Continue to follow West Charleston Blvd NV-159 (which becomes aka Blue Diamond Road) west for about 9 miles and turn right to the trailhead and parking area (Fig. 02). Note: The trailhead can be reached from the south by driving west on Hwy 160 (Pahrump Highway) to Highway 159 (Blue Diamond Road). Turn right onto Highway 159 and drive north for about 7 miles, passing the entrance to Spring Mountain Ranch and the trailhead for First Creek. The next parking area on the left is the trailhead for Wilson's Pimple Peak hike.
Area Description: From the hike's trailhead located on the west side of West Charleston Blvd, this pleasant 3.5-mile R/T hike crosses Red Rock Valley to the base of Mt. Wilson and back. As this hike runs across the desert valley floor, it transverses a variety of desert habitats (including Blackbrush Flats, typical Mojave Desert Scrub, and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland).
Special Attraction or Point of Interest: Hiking to the top of the peak. It is reached using an old mining road and a steep use-trail. From the peak, there are grand views that spread out across the vast expanse of Red Rock Valley. Facing west is the towering east face of Mt. Wilson and Rainbow Mountain. Mt. Wilson is so close, it almost feels like you can reach out and touch it. In summary, Wilson's Pimple Peak provides a surprisingly scenic view for such a low summit.
Primary Activity: Hiking, Birding and Photography.
Secondary Activities: None.

Elevation:  The elevation at the hike trailhead is 3,739. The elevation at Wilson's Saddle is 4,152, a gain of 413 feet. From the saddle to the summit of Wilson's Peak, elevation 4,390, is another climb of 238 feet, for a total hike elevation gain of 651 feet.
Best Time To Visit: Fall, Winter and Spring.
Hike DescriptionThe Wilson's Pimple Loop Trail runs north and then west, eventually running up a canyon along the base of Wilson's Pimple and climbing onto a spot known as the Wilson Saddle. Once you reach the saddle you can take a .04 mile detour to the top of Wilson's Pimple Peak or continue the hike that runs around the back of Wilson's Pimple (aka Potato Knoll) to Oak Creek. It the follows the Riparian Woodland downstream along the far side of Wilson's Pimple, and finally loops back across desert flats back to the trailhead (Fig.02).
: The majority of the trail across Red Rock Valley is relative easy. However, the climb to the summit and the hike around the "pimple" can be considered moderate..
Facilities: None
Estimated Round-trip Time: The complete round-trip hike, including the hike up and down to the peak, is about 4.3 miles and will take about 2.5 hours, depending upon how much time you want to spend taking pictures and enjoying the solitude and beauty of the surrounding area.

(Fig. 02)

12/22/2015 Trip NotesThis past week, Blake Smith, Robert Croke and I decided to drive out to Red Rock Canyon to hike the Oak Creek trail to Wilson's Pimple (Fig. 02). Even though the weather was discouraging, cloudy and windy, we still managed to have a good hike. The picture in (Fig. 01) was taken from the parking area at the Trailhead. The tan hill in the center, between the two cacti, is Wilson's Pimple. After walking through a barbed-wire fence, you walk down an old road towards and area that was the original Red Rock Campground. You then come to a heavy metal gate at the end of the Red Rock Wash. Looking left and right at the wash you can see a lot of desert willow and shrub life oak and other vegetation that provides a good habitat for desert birds. From here the narrow old road is quite rock in places as it runs northwest across the desert flats. About halfway out, the picture (Fig.03) of Bob and Blake was looking back toward the trailhead with the Blue Diamond Hills in the background. The vegetation through this area is filled with Blackbrush, Buckhorn Cholla, plus some Mojave Yucca and Joshua Trees. As we hike some more, Willson's Pimple began to  loom larger as it stood at the base of Mt. Wilson (left) and Rainbow Mountain (right). Eventually you reach a fork in the rocky old dirt road. Here turn left and follow the narrow dirt road up a hillsideKeep staying left up an open canyon on the south side of Wilson's Pimple until you reach the top of the Wilson's Saddle (Fig. 05). On the right you can see the start of the .4 mile trail that begins its 238-foot accent up to the top of the hill (Fig. 02). Unfortunately, it was so windy when we got here, we decided that there was no way we were going to attempt it on this visit. Now that we were now higher in the canyon, the vegetation began to change, with more Utah Juniper, Cliffrose, and Mojave Yucca becoming more common. From here we decided to continue to follow the loop trail down into the valley towards Ash Creek and around Wilson's Pimple. (con't below)
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)

(Fig. 05)

Notes con't: The next picture (Fig.06) was taken looking east, back at the trail that led up to the saddle with the Blue Diamond Hills in the distance.  From Wilson's Saddle, the trail began to descend rapidly towards Oak Creek (Fig. 07). You can see Bob leading the way in front of Blake and myself (Fig. 08).  The view in (Fig.09) was looking back up the trail towards the saddle. Reaching a halfway point around the 'Pimple', we got a nice view looking north toward the Calico Hills of Red Rock Canyon (Fig. 10). At the bottom of the ravine the trail split; to the left and up into Oak Creek Canyon, and right down toward the creek. After a short distance we found a nice big flat boulder (Fig. 11) where we stopped to enjoyed a picnic lunch with a great view (Fig 12). Just a few hundred feet beyond this spot we crossed the creek for the first time. After hiking uphill from the creek for several hundred yards on the north side of the creek, the trail then started to descend once again down to the creek where we had to cross over to the south side once again. See the pictures in the collage in (Fig. 13). We were all amazed at how much water there was in the creek this time of year. We would all love to hike this again in the spring after the winter snow melts. There is so much vegetation here, we are sure that the area surrounding the creek would be abundance with spring blossoms and wild flowers. Once back on the south side of the creek, we followed the loop trail along the base of Wilson's Pimple through the heavy vegetation (Fig. 14) and then another old dirt road that ran southeast out across the valley floor back to the trailhead (Fig. 15). Except for the winds, it was a great day with many outstanding mountain views (Fig. 16).

(Fig. 06)

(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)

(Fig. 12)

(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)