Cottonwood Canyon Road
(8.5 miles, +1,600/-0 feet).
I was supposed to be in Big Bend National Park this weekend to hike the Outer Mountain Loop with my buddies Colin and Quercus, but Southwest Airlines cancelled our flight to Austin.
We are still working on a reschedule, but in the meantime Quercus and I scrambled for a replacement trip nearby. Death Valley is just a 5 hour drive, so we borrowed Mix Master’s Subaru (we needed the high clearance to get to the trailhead — thanks buddy!) and off we went.
Our goal was the most popular loop hike in the park that heads up Cottonwood Canyon and then back down Marble Canyon. The Park Service officially asks people to voluntarily register with a ranger, but the one we spoke to seemed a little surprised (and annoyed?) that we were there. Next time I probably won’t bother, but it was nice to hear her reassure us that water was flowing at all the springs.
After tackling a sandy road and a rocky wash in the Subaru, we gingerly made our way to the trailhead. Soon we were off!
The trail follows a road in a wide wash that gradually narrows. I feel pretty “meh” about most road walks, so rather than walking on the road itself, we frequently walked cross country to smooth out the curves.
The canyon walls gradually got higher and the colors brighter.
As we approached our first spring, the canyon got more and more full of shrubs, although most of them were dry.
After about 8 miles we started seeing water and signs of life. The green looks really green in these desert surroundings.
We found a really nice spot near the springs and set up camp for the evening. I’m really looking forward to finally losing the road on our hike tomorrow!