Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Hike 2015.079 -- North Peak Trail, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
I wasn't sure where my destination would be this time, at least not 'til I got there.
The trailhead is at the end of the pavement for the Rocky Gap Road. That's about 3/5ths of the way around on the 13 mile scenic loop in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. At this point, you'll have passed the High Point lookout along the road, and begun heading back towards NV-159. You'll also have passed the White Rock trailhead. Next, on the right, will be the road heading to the the Willow Springs picnic area.
Incidentally, the map I'm using is the "Green Trails Maps, Map 2474S, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It seems to be the standard hiking map for folks visiting the area. Sort of the equivalent of the Tom Harrison maps for California.
Back in the day, the 4.5 miles from trail head to trail junction passed quickly. But I'm older and heavier, now, and the walk to the pass proved tiring. I kept saying to myself, "I don't remember this being so long!" and "I don't remember this being so steep!"
Along the way, there are some nice views of both the red sandstone and the grey limestone of the mountains that surround you. In parts, there was also some water at the canyon bottoms. The western red bud trees grew in creek-adjacent areas, and their leaves were turning yellow (in the spring, of course, they burst forth with their tiny signature red flowers). But most of the way, it was more typical juniper-Pinyon pine forest. The occasional Ponderosa pine also stood tall, in wetter, more protected areas of the hike.
(I'm using a cropped CMOS sensor, meaning you should multiple each of those numbers by 1.5 to get the 35mm film equivalent for focal lengths).
On the left, slightly below the vertical middle, you might see some trace of Rocky Gap Road. The next image is a 300mm shot of that road, with numerous off-highway vehicles, heading towards Red Rock.
I'm thinking Bridge Mountain was a bit closer than Rocky Gap, but that may still give you some perspective on how far from the road we were, and how large the bridge opening might be.
I began my hike around 10am, and got off the trail around 4:30pm. That's a lot of time, even for an 11-mile-ish hike. And I was pretty beat by the time I got back, too. Not sure if I'll soon return to try to challenge Bridge Mountain--Just so tiring to get there, I'm even less likely than in the past to want to try to do that last bit of climbing. But I may just return to near that last push, because, from there, even more than from North Peak, you do get to look down the escarpment, to the canyons below. It's a long way down there!