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Failing to find anyone interested in a second effort, I drove out to the locked gate along the Templin Hwy by myself a few days after Christmas. After crossing the bridge over Redrock Creek I took the right fork this time, having done a better job of researching the route. A few hundred yards later I took the left fork heading up Fish Canyon (passing another party on their return), following the remains of an old road that used to service the campground ahead. A great deal of engineering and a huge amount of concrete had gone into building a paved road up this narrow canyon. Landslides some years ago closed the road and ever since then the land and weather have been conspiring to reclaim the canyon from vehicles. It's still passable by sturdy 4WD trucks, but perhaps not for much longer.
I found the Cienaga Campground a mile up the canyon at a major fork, abandoned and unused. It, too, is slowly being reclaimed by nature. Past the campground I took a left fork and the start of an old trail heading north up Fish Canyon. The first mile that follows the creek on the east side is in fine shape, apparently well-worn by regular visitors. This led to the Pianobox Prospect where I found a fire ring under an oak that looks to be regularly used for a campsite. Past Pianobox I started up the creek for a short distance without the aid of a trail. The canyon grows suddenly very narrow and I suspected I was off-route. Consulting my topo map, I noted I had gone past the location where the trail leaves the canyon by a short distance.
I retraced my steps and soon found evidence for a trail on the other side of the creek behind a couple of oak trees just at the spot where the canyon first narrows. This part of the trail that switchbacks up the south side of Redrock Mtn was in very poor shape, no longer maintained, and hardly used. The trail was overgrown with brush, but not too badly. The trail and slopes have slumped badly in numerous places but I was able to follow the trail up to a saddle southwest of the summit. I paused here to take in the views both west and east over the saddle, noting a serviceable use trail heading more or less directly up the ill-defined ridge towards the summit.
I followed the use trail to the summit, this part much easier to negotiate since there was less of the dense brush found lower on the mountain. Yucca were the main obstacles, but these were readily avoided by dancing around the trail. It took two hours to reach the summit, located at the west end of the short summit ridge. A register and benchmark were located here, and due to time constraints I ended my trip here. The highpoint of Redrock Mountain is some 500ft higher and 1.5 miles further north along an undulating ridgeline that looks both interesting and passable. Perhaps something for a future visit. There were nice views in most directions, north, east, south, and west.
I retraced my route back to the saddle and briefly considered descending the continuation of the trail down the west side of the mountain into Rattlesnake Canyon [actually, Redrock Cyn - see correction below]. It looked like it would make a good loop return, but unsure of the route and limited on time, I decided the wiser choice was to head back the same way. Jogging most of the downhill portions, I was able to return to the van at the locked gate about half an hour before sunset, keeping the outing to under four hours.
This page last updated: Fri Feb 20 14:48:01 2009
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