The Friends’ Natural Resources Team in Action

By Pat Williams

More than two million people enjoy Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area each year. This is both a blessing and a curse: With all those feet coming through the gates, you can imagine what the trails look like after a season of visitor usage and monsoon weather.

Some trails are worn down to knee depth, some trails or areas get washed away, new trails crop up because the original trails become impassable, signage fades to the illegible due to the harsh climate… The list goes on.

However, we are blessed with having an incredible volunteer team, the Natural Resource Committee (AKA: The Team), who are passionate about preserving and improving the trails that are enjoyed by millions of feet, paws and hooves. We are also fortunate to have the support of our community, local organizations and corporations who are eager to help with our preservation

The Team has monthly workdays in addition to tackling special projects requested by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). I’d like to focus on just a few of The Team’s special projects over the years.

Among the most impressive:Award: The Scenic Drive Highpoint Overlook This parking pullout provides beautiful views of the canyon floor and the surrounding mountain ranges. The relatively ample parking lot is generally filled with tour buses, bicycles and cars – with all the occupants being outside the vehicles enjoying the view.

This location is also a favorite photo op site for wedding parties. Sadly, years of monsoon
rains had eroded the ground surrounding the parking area leaving an unmarked two-foot drop-off
from the pavement to the desert floor.

The Bureau of Land Management developed a remediation plan and requested that Friends provide
funds and volunteers to repair the damage several years ago.

Using five tons of back-fill soil, approximately 300 landscaping pavers and the skill (and brawn) of
a dozen volunteers, the dangerous drop-off was eliminated on a Saturday morning.

The Backbreaking Award: Ice Box Canyon is one of the most picturesque and
heavily used trails in the canyon: the end destination follows a wash to a wooded and shady slot canyon, featuring a seasonal waterfall, which is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the canyon floor.

Absolutely heavenly after the ¾ mile journey from the parking lot. And, you would be extremely lucky to find a parking spot after 8:00 a.m. The trail from the parking area to the entrance to the wash had been so loved (a euphemism for being overly used) that the trail was 12 to 18 inches deep in places.

Repairing the damage required two weekends of hauling and placing nearby rocks and boulders
to line the eroded areas as a base for phase two. This was done the old-fashioned way: manual labor.

Phase two was a little more complicated but was much easier on the volunteers’ backs and arms:
Mule power courtesy of Cowboy Trail Rides and lots of help from The Bristlecone Chapter of the
Backcountry Horsemen of Nevada, Future Farmers/Ranchers of America, The United States Air Force, the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association and the Bureau of Land Management.

The Team and partners moved over 16 tons of soil from the staging area to the prepped areas to bring the trail back up to the proper level.

This story was published originally in 2015


Children’s Discovery Trail Not Just for Kids

Don’t let the name Children’s Discovery Trail lull you into thinking this is a trail meant only for kids. This is one of the most diverse trails in Red Rock Canyon and lets the hiker see some very different things.

From the parking area, take the trail that is farthest from the bathrooms. This will give you a nice loop of about 3/4 of a mile. There will be some uneven ground and you will hike over some good-sized rocks. The trail ascends gently until you get near the base of the cliffs. It then twists back and forth through some scrub oak and there are some rock steps.

On the way, at marker #4, there is a fenced area. If you look on the upper left side of the sandstone, you may be able to see the pictographs left by Native Americans. Depending on the light, they can be difficult to find.

From here, the trail winds near some large sandstone boulders. Eventually, you come to a place
where the trail turns left to go back to the parking lot. You can also turn right and go to the grotto. The grotto is the area where the seasonal waterfall is located. The trail here is easy to follow.

There is a series of rock steps. Be careful with these. With the fine sand that erodes from the sandstone cliffs, the steps can be very slippery. Eventually, you’ll make your way into the grotto.

It’s a cool spot to have a snack, and it is special when we’ve had rain or snow melt and
there is some water coming down the falls.

Retrace your steps to the turnoff you took, stay to the right and head back to your car. On the
way, you’ll come to the boardwalk that was built by Friends of Red Rock Canyon to protect the riparian nature of Lost Creek. There’s an interpretive marker that’s a must read and you can see Lost Creek.

Why is it Lost Creek?

For a short distance, this underground stream comes above ground. It then disappears again—hence Lost Creek.

After the boardwalk area, you’ll soon be crossing the gravel wash and you’ll be back at the
parking area.

This is a relatively easy hike but understand that all hikes in Red Rock Canyon cover ground that is
uneven and rocky. Hiking shoes/boots are highly recommended and make sure you have water with you.

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