Monday, September 30, 2013
Hike 2013.048 -- Calico Hills Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, NV
Although I've hiked in Red Rock Canyon probably a dozen times or more over the years, I don't think I ever actually did the Calico Hills Trail. It always seemed like this trail would be too crowded and not challenging enough, so I usually tried something with a bigger climb and a longer distance from the road. So it was that, on this day, I figured I might as well do a hike I had never done before.
The south end of the Calico Hills Trail starts just inside the fee station for Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It's on the right side of the road, and there's a large sign there. It indicates 1.5 miles to the visitor center,
hike to Turtlehead Peak, back in March). The 1.5 to the visitor center would be via a looping route, which branches off near Calico I. It does not count the 1/4 to 1/2 mile down from the visitor center it would take to get down to this trailhead, so the full loop is between 2.25 and 2.5 miles.
In this section, the trail runs near the base of the V-shaped canyon. The road is well above you, on your left. The cliffs are even higher above you, on the right. On both sides, numerous wildflowers bloomed in this somewhat-shaded area of valley. And, in an occasional spot, was pooled water from the unusually heavy rains of September.
Right around here, I feel I lost the official trail. I'm not sure if I should have headed somewhat up towards Calico II here to catch the real trail. Instead, I went downward, following a trail that dropped to the very bottom of the canyon. It crisscrossed the dry stream bed a few times, and it seemed to me this was no longer the trail. But since it was near where I thought I might turn around, I was not concerned.
Once at the top of a decent cliff, I stopped, drank and ate some, rested, then turned back. On my return trip, I mostly just retraced my steps, except near the end. There, rather than heading down towards the entry station, I took a more direct route towards the visitor center. I'll estimate about 5.25 to 5.5 miles for the day.