Wednesday, October 28, 2015
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!
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
It's pretty flat and easy up until that last half mile, when you need to cross the stream multiple times. Even that part is generally easy, although the rocks can be slick, and a careless crossing can lead to a fall.
This trail head is off of Altadena Drive, just north of New York Drive. There's signage on the right (east) side of Altadena for the nature center.
If the lot is full, there's street parking here, and also access points elsewhere up canyon.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
I had read that this road could be scenic in the fall. Also, the previous afternoon, from the Zion Overlook of UT-14, I saw many golden mountain tops where aspen were blooming in profusion. So I decided to drive some distance (not being sure as I turned how far that would be) on this road.
the "C" Trail and driven to that same spot to observe the annular solar eclipse in 2012.
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
the Aspen Grove was burned in the Lake Fire last year, and the area is part of a huge closure order that stands until at least next summer.
This may actually prove good for the aspen grove, since conifers encroach upon its footprint. Depending on how the larger conifers weathered the fire, occasional clearing fires like this will let the aspen expand, or, at least, stop losing habitat to conifers.
Aspen actually do better after fires (unless the temperatures are too high), and recover quickly. They're a transitional species that needs those occasional disturbances (fires, avalanches, etc) to do well.
The Forsee Creek Trailhead is located off of West Jenks Lake Road. From CA-38, if coming from Redlands, it's just about six miles past Angelus Oaks. Jenks Lake Road is on your right. Almost as soon as you get on Jenks Lake Road, the dirt road to Forsee Creek trailhead is on your right. About 1/2 mile on a rough, rocky, but (on this day) passable dirt road ends at the trailhead.
"Your" trail goes west and west-southwest, along the northfacing side of the mountains. From there, you gain altitude and have nice views into the Santa Ana River drainage. Mount San Gorgonio is to your east-northeast. Slide Peak and Keller Peak, each in the high-7,000, are to your west-northwest.
After crossing the creek, there's a slight rise, to "Johns Meadow." It actually looked nothing like a meadow, to me. There were plenty of trees, and no rolling carpet of grass.
Having not been sure if I was there, I continued a bit. The trail crossed a second little creek shortly, then climbed, first slowly, then steeply, towards the San Bernadino Mountains ridge. Once assured that Johns Meadow was not ahead of me, I returned the way I came.
Because I went past the actual meadow (and also backtracked some when I thought I left my phone on the ground, I figure I covered well over six miles, so I'm calling it seven miles, though it might only be 6 1/2. Pleasant, shaded, cool. Nice hike, but no aspen.