The Gypsum Jump Overlook view to South

Blue Diamond Gypsum Mine – Overlook Top Right in Foreground

Scars from Gypsum Mining in North Blue Diamond Hills

Joshua Tree in rare Full Bloom (Bridge Point Peak)

According to Google Earth's satellite photos of the western side of the North Blue Diamond Hills, a couple of new trails have cropped up. Today, eleven hikers explored one of those trails. In May of 2017, the satellite photos showed that the trail we hiked today only went to a certain point on the western ridge and without any extension of the trail around the overlook corner. Now, in April 2019, we proved that the trail leads all the way to the "peak" of the ridge then continues down from there as seen in the first photo of this entry. (We are probably a little late to the party because the trail appears that it has been there for a long while!)

Finding small Game Trail Connection from end of Conglomerate Gardens Trail

We assumed it was a bike trail since the trail zigzags up the hills making the ascent and following descent gentle and gradual. However, today, a Sunday, we did not see any bikers.

Blooming Mojave Yucca, Game Trail and Target "V" in Ridge Beyond

Researching the route, I saw that the trail was not easily accessible by any known route in the Hills except for the dirt road that is gated at SR 159. One could argue that the hike could begin at that gate but the gate should not be blocked at any time. (See the last map below.)

Target "V" in Ridge from dirt road Crossing

Connecting with a very nice Trail

Therefore, we started our hike at the Cowboy Trails Trailhead today to make our way across the desert to the "V" in the western ridge where we would pick up the worn trail. The hike would turn out to be a solid moderate hike as an out and back. Through the ranch gate, we took a sharp right and dropped into the wash next to the trailhead. A little further up, the Conglomerate Gardens (Kibbles 'n' Bits) Trail comes out of the wash on the left. Follow this trail shortly until it makes a sharp right turn around a boundary of piled dirt. After the turn, go straight finding a game trail junction that is barely discernible. Then, follow the burro tracks! They know where they are going!

Yucca Bloom in front of Calico Hills

This game trail drops into the wash. It does cross the wash but turning left into the wash works, too. We learned this coming back. So, just stay in the wash until there is a very small deep cut wash on the right side where we placed a cairn. I hope the cairn stays for a while!

Panorama from First Hill – Trail Continuation from our Junction

This little wash crosses the dirt road and shallowly leads up to the worn trail junction in the ridge "V". Turn right onto this trail and you begin your zigzagging ascent.

Hike Points of Interest

Hiking a Moenkopi Layer of Limestone

First, the trail zigzags up a small hill, then it crosses over to an intermediate hill with more zigzags. Finally, the trail perches atop the long western ridge of the North Blue Diamond Hills. Along the way, the views are unique and wide of the Calico Hills, the Sandstone Bluffs and the north and east North Blue Diamond Hills. The ascent continued along interesting terrain traveling through a Moenkopi layer of limestone. The cliffs on the east side became steeper and there is a very safe but thrilling view over toward the dirt road and the very old mining scars leftover from back in the day. The higher we got, the more we could see the southern portion of the Sandstone Bluffs and Mt. Potosi.

Climb continues on Neighboring Hill (Rainbow Peak-L, Bridge Point Peak-R)

It was a mixed moderate crowd today and we all had no problem with the moving pace of 2.1 mph. We moved along taking note of lizards and flowers along the trail.

Easy Stepping Limestone Slab

We passed the "end" of the trail as indicated on my GPS and saw that the very well maintained trail continued to the peak overlook. We were very happy about that!

Wide Views of Red Rock Canyon NCA

Well-Maintained Trail near Top

Arriving at the overlook appeared that we had arrived at a bottomless clifftop! When we sidled over to the edge, we saw that the "cliff" would have been easily down climbed into the remains of the Blue Diamond Gypsum Mine but that would be crossing a private property boundary as claimed by the Corner Boundary Marker placed on the cliff rocks. The Red Rock Canyon NCA ended here but still continued down the ridge in the southern direction. I was surprised to see a long trail appearing that led down toward the old Oliver Ranch off of SR 159. (Not seen on the May 2017 satellite photo.) We took our break here on the overlook ruminating on how we can use these trails for the future.

Mt. Potosi and Sandstone Bluffs from our Gypsum Jump Trail

We enjoyed our stay then started down. I asked the women behind me what I should call the hike on this blog. "Gypsum Overlook" and "Gypsum Jump Off" were two suggestions. I gave it some thought and went with Gypsum Jump Overlook. Maybe the bikers who created the trail would like that!

Taking a Break on the Gypsum Jump Overlook

Descending the trail, we noticed an old mining claim. Interesting that it is still there. Also, "something" zoomed across in front of me so fast that it was a mere blur. Thinking it might be a kangaroo rat, I followed the blur until it stopped.

Corner Boundary Marker at Gypsum Jump Overlook

Starting our Descent

Peeking out from behind a rock, we could see that it was a Great Basin Collared Lizard. These are larger than the common Side-blotched Lizards. It was an uncommon sight here at RRCNCA. We continued down the zigzags and dropped off the worn trail into the small wash, crossed the dirt road and continued into the larger wash where we placed a cairn. Finding the game trail out of the wash was not easy and we had to use the GPS but suffice it to say, this wash is the same wash that leads all the way to the trailhead. We always have a lot of fun doing new stuff! Great group today!
6.3 miles; 800 feet elevation gain; 3 hours; average moving speed 2.1 mph

Some of the "Cliffy" Trail Edge

Zigzagging down the Intermediary Hill

The Wash between Trailhead and Gypsum Jump Trail

Trail Relationship to Nearest Routes