Part 10 Red Rock State Park and home via Dove Spring Canyon Trail.
The Dove Spring Canyon Trail starts at the kiosk as you enter Red Rock State Park Ricardo Campground.
Where we started out the trail enters the Dove Springs OHV Park. At first I was wondering if we made a mistake. My biggest fear was some idiot flying over a hill and smashing into us.
The road looked like we might encounter heavy traffic but we actually had the area to ourselves. A weekend might be a different story.
At first there were some unique surroundings but is soon turned into a typical OHV park with a bazillion bike trails on every hill.
This place is dirt bike heaven for some, but there were so many trails I had a hard time staying on the main road. Even with my GPS up and running it was difficult to navigate this area. Some of the main trails are marked with numbers; for example, Dove Spring Canyon Trail is SC-103. Between the markings and the GPS, we made it through the park but there were a few times we had to back track to find SC-103. The Los Angeles Aqueduct crosses through here also. It did help to give us our bearings. As we got further from the center of the park, the road was easier to follow.
Eventually the road leaves the park via a short steep climb. It was nice to get out of the OHV park. Over the crest the hill, the trail became a bit more scenic.
It becomes a single sandy trail that cuts through the desert with spots that offer commanding views of the area.
The view was outstanding at this point of the trail. Soon you actually drop down into Dove Spring. The spring is surrounded by cottonwood trees but there wasnít much water. According to the Backcountry Adventures Book, Dove Spring was the site of a small city during construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct between 1907 and 1913.
The drop into Dove Spring is rather steep although these pictures donít show it. I had to drive back to pick up Don. The picture below shows the vehicle coming back. Actually we were heading toward the hills in the background.
Dove Spring Canyon Trail has only a few spurs off it, one being the Pacific Crest Trail which is unseen in the background of the above picture. The hiking trail crosses this route about 3 miles from Dove Spring itself.
Leaving out, the path became extremely sandy. About a mile up the road is Dove Well.
At Dove Well we noticed that there was once a windmill standing here. Parts of it were still around but the well itself was capped over. We wondered if they piped water down to Dove Spring when it was active.
Dove Well had the most Joshua Trees I had seen on the drive. It was kind of like a mini forest of Joshua trees.
My mirror found out these trees donít yield. Yep, I broke the housing. Crap! A couple of miles up the road we passed the Pacific Crest Trail. We didnít even notice it until I saw the familiar sign that designates the route. The altitude is about 5,300 feet. From that point on, the vehicle trail begins to drop. The other side does have a few Pinion Pines that changes the looks of the area as you continue to descend.
Soon you reach Willow Spring. I was surprised to see so much water.
It looked quite refreshing. We had lunch here and then moved on.
Nearing the end of the trail, you must cross a couple of washes that might pose a problem during a storm. There are several short steep climbs and descents before coming to the paved road.
Eventually it ends on Kelso Valley Road which leads to the town of Weldon and highway 178.
I really liked this trail and other than the OHV Park, it offers a scenic drive as opposed to the highway. We left out for northern California through Lake Isabella and made our way home.
In some ways this adventure to Death Valley and the surrounding area was similar to the trip I took earlier this year to Colorado. I was apprehensive about both. Before leaving for Colorado I didnít know if I would like to travel back east through so many states by myself, and on this outing I wasnít sure I would be comfortable in a larger crowd. In both cases I was wrong. Each trip was an experience that Iíll remember for the rest of my life.
I think I can speak for Don when saying we both had a great time. This trip was so rewarding I canít wait for another. More pictures would have been nice, especially nighttime camp shots. Iíll remember that on the next trip.
Itís always interesting to see new country and make new friends. Unlike the Colorado trip, I felt more secure about having a breakdown while traveling with a group. Itís a big plus off roading with a group of people. Not to rub it in (Steve :-) but I do wish we would have made Goler Pass. On the other hand Iím glad we gave up on the trip into Nevada through Echo Canyon.
It would have been nice to have a little more time but thereís always next year for another Death Valley run.
One last note:
Apparently on the way home Jeff had some drive train problems. I understand he made it home OK. Rumor has it HE WAS DRIVING TOO FAST