Monday, January 13, 2014

The Park & Hidden Peak

As much as I complain about the Vegas weather in the summer, the winters truly make up for the pain that the summers cause.  This weekend we had two beautiful days of weather with blue skies and highs in the mid-60s.  Thankfully, I was able to take full advantage of this weather by exploring a new to me area of the Vegas wilderness to which I hadn't been in the past (The Park & Hidden Peak) and re-visiting one of my favorite spots (Windy Peak).  Whats more, I got to do all of this with some of my awesome friends.

Saturday, I started out with my pals from Hiking Las Vegas at 7:00am.  Our final destination was Hidden Peak in Red Rock Canyon NCA for the 7 of Diamonds.  There are at least two routes to this peak.  We took the "back" route.  To get to the start of the hike, we drove from Las Vegas toward Pahrump, NV and, ultimately, drove the 3.1 miles down Rainbow Spring Road until we couldn't drive any further.

Warning:  you'll definitely need a high clearance vehicle back here and 4-wheel drive is probably a good idea.

Once we parked the car, we started our adventure.  Our first surprise was a thick sheet of ice covering the road/trail for the first tenth of a mile.  Apparently, there is normally a stream running down the middle of this road, but thanks to a series of very cold days/nights a few weeks ago and the fact that this is in the shade, the stream is now ice.
My hiking friends double as figure skaters, obviously
Once we got past the ice, we followed the somewhat faint trail, a series of cairns, and the GPS waypoints through the limestone and fir trees over a ridge, etc.  After about 2.5 miles, we arrived at the most beautiful place I've ever been inside Red Rock:  The Park (aka Little Zion).
This place was incredible.  We were hiking on a limestone trail and then *poof* we were walking on beautiful sandstone.  "The Park" or "Little Zion" is a sandstone plateau located at 6000 feet of elevation with tall evergreen trees and, when you get to the edge, breathtaking views with fantastic drop-offs.
You can sort of see the stark line where the gray limestone suddenly turns in to creamy sandstone.
I really enjoyed walking around this area.  I can't wait to take more of my friends to this sandstone oasis in the sky.
We also discussed that this would be a great backpacking trip to test gear before longer backpacking trips.  Because the park is located above 5000 ft, you can get a BLM backcountry permit.
After frolicking at The Park, it was time to head to our real objective.  We started along a sandstone ridge and before long, we were treated to this:
From there, the peak was just an incline away.  It was steep at points and I was definitely breathing heavily when I got to the peak.  Once we all got there, I ate snacks (including honey stinger waffles - yum!), took pictures, and just hung out with some awesome people.  
Hiking to The Park and Hidden Peak will definitely go down as one of my favorite hikes in Las Vegas.    I really wish I could take everyone I know here.  

I do NOT recommend going out on this hike unless you're either with someone who knows the trail or you feel really comfortable navigating in the backcountry using a description (either from here or Branch Whitney's Book), a GPS unit, and GPS waypoints. 

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