By Tom Pfaendler
The SMYC Trail is the first of three legs that make up the ten-mile Escarpment Base Trail. This short path also links the Lost Creek and Ice Box Canyon trails and can be accessed from either of those parking lots.
The first and most logical question that you may ask is “what does SMYC stand for?” Six Million Years Coming? Several Miles You’ll Cross? There’s no handy interpretive sign to clue you in. Seven Mules Yodeling Coherently? Well anyway, grab your hat & bottle of water, stretch out those calves and let’s see what’s out there.
From the Lost Creek parking lot, follow the trail about a tenth of a mile. You’ll then see a little sign directing you south onto the SMYC trail.
If you look at a trail map, the SMYC appears to be a quick little interconnecting route between two major areas of interest. There can’t be much to see on such a short trail, right? Staircases Make You Climb? Six Minute Yucca Cooking? The path starts out very pleasantly, crisscrossing Red Rock Wash with hundreds of carefully laid cobblestones, presumably done to keep the trail intact after flash flooding.
Have I mentioned the staircases yet? The first of many handcrafted stone stairs are nestled here among cholla, beavertail, pincushion and strawberry hedgehog cactus.
These red steps are really picturesque and just a prelude to the fantastic gardens that await you during the next mile. The trail climbs and dips and winds around dramatic mountain foothills revealing hidden vistas and surprise gardens that just spring up on you. Be sure to take a camera because you’re going to see amazing things around every turn. About midway you will have reached a high point with some unique views of Ice Box canyon.
This would be a good spot to stretch out and enjoy that backpack lunch you brought along.
After negotiating several sandstone staircases (say that real fast) you’ll find yourself in a vast meadow near the Ice Box Canyon trailhead. SMYC is only 1.1 miles long, but it’s a workout. And it’s just wonderful enough to make you want to turn right around and go back over it again. Well, you have to, your car’s parked back there.
OK so SMYC is really 2.2 miles long. Santa’s Making Yule Crafts? Steep Menacing Yonder Cliffs?
SMYC really stands for Spring Mountain Youth Camp, which is credited for the construction of this trail. If you ask me, they did a darn good job.
I was simply blown away by the SMYC Trail. I guess because I expected a quick little interconnect route, and got handcrafted staircases and cobblestone paths instead. Six boots out of ten on the ole bootmeter!
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