Deer Creek Picnic Area & Cougar Ridge Trail

(Fig. 01)
Area Description: The Deer Creek Picnic Area is located in the middle of the Deer Creek Canyon, a deep, narrow canyon in a Pine-Fir forest with a small, perennial creek that cuts a rocky, narrow canyon down the steep flanks of Mummy Mountain. The trail into the picnic area begins a hundred yards south of the parking area seen in the upper right of (Fig. 01) by turning up old road (068A - now a paved trail) that runs parallel along the Deer Creek Stream. Because of the water, birds from all over the area come to drink and bathe, making this is a good place to bird. Picnic tables are packed closely between the creek and the northern rocky hillside and is lined with enormous Ponderosa Pines, white fir, willows, shrubs, and wild flowers, all providing cover for the chipmunks and a wide variety of birds who come to the creek for water. Less than a mile south on 158 (Deer Creek Road) there is a dirt road (Forest Road 68) on the right near the top of the hill. This was the parking and trailhead we used for today's hike (Fig. 01). At the intersection of this road and the end of the paved road (068A) the road becomes Cougar Ridge Trail. About a mile from the trailhead (TH) the road crosses over the creek and the beginning of a populated area that contains nearly dozen cabins.

07/27/18 Hike Notes: Today, Bob Croke, Ron Ziance, Jim Herring and I decided to take a leisurely walk off of Deer Creek Road in the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area. It  was a beautiful sunny day with only a few scattered clouds. Because much of the hiking along this road is surrounded by cliffs and trees the temperature never got much higher than 80 degrees. The image in (Fig. 02) was taken from the TH at the beginning of the hike. Through the trees you get some great views of Mummy Mountain (Fig. 03). As you hike this road, you get to look down on the paved Deer Creek Road and the creek that runs along its south side. About a mile out the road crosses over Deer Creek. From this dirt covered culvert (bridge), the picture in (Fig. 05) is looking up the wash of the creek that runs to the Deer Creek Spring. This is also the beginning of the log homes (Figs. 05 & 06). (Notes con't below)

(Fig. 02)
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(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
Notes Continued: Eventually we came to a relatively new structure that I saw being built on my last trip here in 2015 (Fig. 07). We found the owner doing some work on the building and he invited us to go inside and view his handiwork (Fig. 08). As it turns out, he lives year-round in the adjacent home shown in (Fig 06), and built this as a fully self-sustained green house. This simple 2 room structure produces is own electricity with solar panels, recycles rain water, has a large underground water storage tank, a swamp cooler to cool it down in summer and a heater to keep it warm in winter and draws water from a natural spring further up the mountain that produces a supply of water with a psi of 125. The first room acts as a workshop (Fig 08). The main room has hundreds of plants and produces all of their fresh produce needs (Fig. 09). Outside he even has a covered garden for growing potatoes and other items (Fig. 10). When we mentioned to him that we had spotted a deer on the lower cliff coming from the spring he said that there is a herd of nearly 12. Every day in the early morning and late afternoon they roam the entire area. We all very much enjoyed talking with this very talented person and thanked him for sharing his life and experiences with us. Hiking further up the road we found some huge trees (Fig. 12) and a great view of Mummy Mountain (Fig. 13). On the return hike we passed some steep cliffs, clumps of aspens, and even a view of the desert testing site (Figs. 13-15).   After we finished the hike we drove to the Resort at Mt Charleston and had lunch (Fig.16).

Bob's GPS provided the following information: We hiked a total of 2.7 miles and averaged our usual 1.1 mph. The starting elevation at the trailhead elevation was 8,410 feet. When we decided to turn around, the middle red dot on the map in (Fig. 01) the elevation was 8,812 feet, meaning we climbed a total of 402 feet up. On the return trip, when we got to the intersection of the Cougar Trail and the paved Deer Creek Forest Rd 068A, we wondered if it would be easier to return on Forest Rd 068A. Bob provided a nice graphic (below) that shows that even though the majority of the paved road is downhill, once you get to the main road you would still have to climb up 70 feet to reach where we parked and would have actually been about a tenth of a mile further in length.

(Fig. 07)
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