Pine Spring & McCullough Spring

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EFP-View of Crescent Peak
(Fig. 01)
South McCullough Range Study Area-2
(Fig. 01A)
* The map above was taken from a Mineral Land Assessment Report (MLA 11-87) titled "Mineral Resources of the Sough McCullough Mountains Study Area, Clark County, Nevada" by Terry J. Close and published by the Bureau of Mines - United States Department of Interior.
Directions: Both of these spring locations boarder the eastern edges of the South McCullough Wilderness Area between the McCullough Range and the Highland Range (Fig. 01*). Though it can be entered from US-95 on the northern end, we decided to enter from Nipton Road (NV-68) on the southern end. From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and bear right to merge onto US-515/93/95 south towards Boulder City. Follow US-93/95 for 17 miles and then merge onto US-95 South (Veterans Memorial Hwy) for 36 miles to Searchlight. In the center of Searchlight, turn right and head west on NV-68 (a.k.a. as Nipton Road and The Joshua Tree Highway) towards Nipton, California. Driving past the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area, the "Parking & Staging Point” on (Fig. 01A),  is located on the right, about 16 miles west of Searchlight. The view in (Fig. 01) is a view south towards Nipton Road with Crescent Peak (5,994 feet) on the left.
McCullough Spring-2
(Fig. 02)
Area Description: The South McCullough Wilderness Area is a fairly large (44,252 acre) wilderness area that includes most of the southern part of the north-south trending McCullough Range and the large bajada to the southwest. The terrain is a north-south orientated, ridge of rugged 1.7 billion year old metamorphic rock deeply cut by canyons on the east and west sides. The base of the mountains are about 3,300 feet on the west side and 4,500 feet on the east side. Its many soft, rugged and rounded peaks and ridges include McCullough Mountain (7,026 feet). The lower elevation of Paiute Valley is dominated by typical Mojave Desert Scrub (Creosote Bush, Mojave Yucca, Banana Yucca, and other low-growing shrubs). Climbing to the higher elevations the vegetation is dominated by blackbrush, Joshua trees and more yucca. The higher elevations are dominated by singleleaf pinyon pine, Utah juniper, and a wide variety of cholla, pricklypear, barrel and hedgehog cactus species.
02/27/2015 Trip Notes: Today, Harvey and I decided to explore the area around the south eastern portion of the South McCullough Mountains, with the goal of locating the McCullough Spring (Fig. 01A). From the staging area we headed north towards the Powerline Road, which then runs northeast along the edge of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area. On our way to McCullough Spring we decided to search out Pine Spring.
Pine Spring: About five miles from our staging point (Fig. 01A), we located the cross roads of Pine Spring Road and Wee Thump North Road on the northern boundary of the Wee Thump Joshua Tree Wilderness Area (Fig. 01A). Heading west on this unmarked road, it begins to climb towards the foothills of the South McCullough Range (Fig. 03). At about about 1.5 miles out, the north fork (Pine Spring Road, proper) runs out to Pine Spring, while the south fork runs another 1.5 miles to a trailhead at the edge of the wilderness area. Not knowing which road to take at the time, we ended up taking the south fork and followed it about 1.5 miles to the end. The road in this area is rocky and a bit washed out. At the base of a hill, the road curves to the northwest and runs up a sandy wash. The area was filled with singleleaf pinyon pine and Utah juniper and a variety of cactus (Fig. 04). When we reached the end, we climbed a few of the nearby ridges and were rewarded with some wonderful scenic views (Fig. 05). Not finding the spring, we finally headed back to the fork in the road and took the fork to the right. In addition to the spring, there is a watering trough and a small horse coral. Unfortunately, even though this was the correct road to the spring, we didn’t take it far enough, and as a result never did locate the spring. We did see two feral cows, several jackrabbits, some roadrunners, and several other birds while driving along this road.
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
Trip Notes Continued: After looking at a more detailed map while creating this page, I estimate that we were less than a quarter of a mile from Pine Spring. I also learned that this road takes you to a trailhead for climbing McCullough Peak. Maybe we can find this spring and make the 6-mile R/T hike to McCullough Peak on a future visit. Having spent considerable time looking for the spring, we finally headed back to the Powerline Road and headed north for about eight miles until we reached the intersection of the the unmarked McCullough Spring Road. (there was a large cairn at the entrance) and a BLM marker that indicated that the road ended in about 3.5 miles.
(Fig. 06)
McCullough Spring: As this road leaves the left side of the Powerline Road, it heads north west. At about a mile and a quarter the road splits. We ended up taking the road to the right as highlighted in yellow on (Fig. 02) for about another two miles. Figure 06 was a pit-stop we made for a snack on the way up to the spring. After the split, the road heads north as it begins to climb through the foothills of the McCullough Range, providing the views shown in (Figs. 07 & 08). On the way we encountered two groups of cattle roaming the hillside along the road (Figs 09 thru 11). The largest group we near the large coral (Figs.12 & 13) just before the spring. There was a large trough in one end of the coral that was filled with fresh running water that was fed from an underground pipe (Fig. 14). On the left side of the road, between the coral and the spring, there was an active beehive (Fig. 15). A short distance beyond the coral we located McCullough Spring. Flowing right out of the base of a not too tall cliff Fig. 16), this year-round spring flows into a manmade pool, spilling over the side and eventually disappearing beneath the sandy wash several feet beyond (Fig. 18). Driving several hundred feet up the wash from the spring we climbed up a small hill which provided a nice view looking back towards the area of the spring (Fig. 19). Had we known at the time that if we continued riving this wash it would lead us back to the beginning of the intersection that we first encountered (Green route shown in (Fig. 02), we would have returned this way. Unfortunately we didn’t know this was a round trip loop. The last two pictures (Figs. 20 & 21) are a few of the views we had on the way back to the Powerline Road. All-in-all these mountains provide a rugged, rocky landscape filled with a wide variety of beautiful trees and desert flora.
EFP-McCullough Spring Road
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)
(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
EFP-McCullough Spring North
(Fig. 19)
(Fig. 20)
EFP-Highland Range 3
(Fig. 21)