Friday, February 19, 2016

Hike 2016.007 -- Trail 101, Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area

Hiked Friday, February 12. 4 miles. My initial plan was just to hike up the usual Trail 100, then, perhaps, divert to Trail 200, and head up to the volcanic plug that's near that saddle. But my plan was diverted by construction. Well, not directly, but indirectly: Large earth-moving equipment was operating not far from where I normally park (directions to this trailhead are discussed here, although, because of ongoing construction in Inspirada, I can not confidently recommend that this access will be possible if you go there any time soon). And when I walked to find Sloan Canyon Road, it was hard to find, because it had been bulldozed. There was a short but continuous, orange demarcation that cut off Sloan Canyon Road. I called this a "miniature Christo installation."
Apparently, major construction has begun along this road for the Inspirada project. The demarcation is presumably to keep earth moving equipment from damaging desert areas where they were not permitted to go. As a result, you could not (on February 12, 2016) drive on Sloan Canyon Road. That means, in the short term, I have no good alternative for getting there, other than walking through the construction zone. On the other hand, I think this means that, relatively soon, there will be paved access to the Sloan Canyon parking area. Of course, if it becomes paved, I would expect a significant uptick in visitation, so they'll need to enlarge the parking area, and/or bring a more visible presence to protect the petroglyphs.
When I got to the sign at the entrance to Sloan Canyon National Conserva-tion Area, I had to step over the little "curtain."

So now, I was curious if there was an alternate way to get here. Several months ago, I had noted that a Trail 101 headed to the east from the parking area. I was curious where it went, and if it could provide that alternate access to Sloan Canyon.
My initial expecta-tion was that this trail would simply head east, then swing north, and re-link with the dirt road that parallels the power lines. Instead, however, Trail 101 alternates between heading east and heading south for a bit. It goes WELL south of the detention basin. The turn to cut across that basin is sudden, however. The more obvious trail seems to continue south, when the "actual" trail turns due east. Signs are set at frequent enough intervals to make staying on the "actual" trail possible, but you do need to pay attention.
The trail cuts across some volcanic-looking rocks, and also some annual grassland. Then it drops into a wide wash.

At the bottom of that wash, the actual Trail 101 appears to bear to the southeast. However, a use trail goes along the bottom of that wash, heading north, towards some homes. Along the wildlands-suburban interface, there's a paved trail. On the other side of that paved trail are some gates, that appear to be locked, with keypads to unlock the doors (I didn't check to see if they were actually locked).
I eventually learned that these homes are part of the Anthem Highlands development. It appears to be private and gated on the other side, so this would not appear to be an alternate public access point to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.
On the positive side, I was now under the power lines that are carried by the large brown towers. I knew my car was parked just south of these towers, and I was pretty sure a dirt road would run the length of the way back to my car.

Along the way, I had some pretty high viewpoints over the Las Vegas Valley, with Henderson, before me.
My dirt trail climbed somewhat steeply, then dropped back down. Once at the bottom, I was adjacent to pavement. I was pretty sure this was Democracy Road, again.

After just a short bit of time on the pavement, I was back on dirt, and my car was just ahead.

My estimated distance is based on Fitbit steps and the time I spent walking (a bit over 90 minutes, at a fairly good clip, and no long pauses for picture taking). It's a rough approximation. Several modest drops and gains, the largest being the drop into the flat wash (slowly, along a switch-backed trail), then the climb along the boundary to Anthem Highlands, then the drop back down to road-level. Nice hike, interesting lighting, and just about the right length for how much time I had that afternoon.

No comments:

Post a Comment