Hoover Peak P500 RS
Peak 1,876ft RS
Paint Pots RS

Dec 8, 2021

With: Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPX


The weather hadn't improved, still overcast but with only a minor threat of rain. Today seemed like a good day to visit one of the local hot springs in the Boulder City area. Eric is a big fan of these and has numerous guidebooks on where to find them throughout the Western US. Today's is called Gold Strike Hot Springs, located on the Colorado River at the end of Gold Strike Canyon. It is very popular (you can see more than 50 cars at the TH in the Google satellite view), but we would luck out on our mid-week visit, having the place mostly to ourselves. Of course, I needed to find a peak on the way that we could do to make this official, and Hoover Peak fit the bill nicely. Afterwards I would pay a visit to a few bonus peaks on our drive into Arizona. my own.

Hoover Peak - Gold Strike Hot Springs

The hike to the hot springs involves a 2.5mi descent of Gold Strike Canyon, starting from the TH just off Interstate 11 at the last Nevada exit. There were only two other cars when we arrived shortly after 7a. The hike begins by following an old road in the wash down a short distance to where a new overpass has been built for the Interstate and some old car parts can be found rusting to one side. The road ends and becomes a trail, easy to follow at first in the sandy wash. After about half an hour it begins to grow rocky and narrows, with fantastically shapped canyon walls stretching up for hundreds of feet. After about 45min, the first of the 7-8 ropes appears. This first one has some steps cut in the polished slab to make things easier. Soon after passing this obstacle, Hoover Peak comes into view to the east, and it was here that we left the main canyon to make the ascent. We followed up a spur drainage, soon finding a trail with some constructive improvements. Not sure who did it or why, but it helped with our ascent, avoiding rougher terrain in the center of the drainage and eventually leading us to the NW Ridge. The trail becomes much fainter here, as we climbed the rocky ridge to reach the top by 8:40a. It has a superb view of the Hoover Dam and Bridge to the east, so much so that I took a second photo five minutes later of virtually the same view (getting old). After taking in other fine views around the Black Canyon Wilderness, we headed back down the same way, getting back to Gold Strike Canyon before 9:30a. We would spent the next 20min hiking the remaining distance to the Colorado River, descending more ropes, more scramblings, more easy gravel, finding the first appearance of water that eventually grew to a small stream running down the canyon. There are a number of upper pools that have been filled with sediment, rendering them dry and useless. A first usable pool was quite shallow and not very inviting, but a second was much better and the warmest of the ones we found. At the river's edge was an adjacent pool a few feet above the river level, that we visited first. This was the more scenic of the two pools we used, looking over a stretch of the Colorado below Hoover Dam, wide and calm-looking with a beautiful emerald color. We sat in that pool for about half an hour. When we got out, a solo hiker who had arrived ahead of us, asked how the water was. We were surprised that he hadn't visited it himself, evidently only interested in the hike, not the soak. We then moved to the warmer second pool found up the canyon a short distance and had a longer soak, again to ourselves. We spotted a pair of hikers coming down the cliff walls to the east above the pool, utilizing a pair of long, wooden ladders that had been installed to facilitate the descent. This caught us by surprise, but later found them described by several sources online. Somehow they descended the ladders and then the scree slope below them to reach the river, unseen by us - we still had the pool to ourselves.

When we'd had our fill, we packed up and headed back, just about the time the first of perhaps half a dozen parties we would come across were to arrive. The ascents back up the rope sections were a bit tricky with a bum shoulder, but we managed to get all of them in turn. The overcast had turned to blue sky well before we had returned to the trailhead after 1p, leaving us some nicer weather for the remainder of the day.

Peak 1,876ft

We drove into Arizona, then up dirt/gravel Kingman Wash Rd, the first AZ exit on the Interstate. Peak 1,876ft is a rather mundane summit that I'd probably have ignored if it hadn't gotten some attention in Purcell's Rambles & Scrambles. I left Eric comfortably ensconced in his Rav4 to make the easy class 2 hike to the summit in less than 15min (I think I told Eric to expect me back in an hour). Kevin Humes had left a register almost two years earlier with a few other entries by Bob Cable and Stav Basis in the interim. There is little of Hoover Dam visible from the summit, but one can see the Hoover Bridge and surrounding mountains. On my way back I came across the rock inscription described by Purcell from 1964.

Paint Pots

Back earlier than expected, I left Eric for a second time to drive to the edge of Lake Mead at the end of the access road. Paint Pots is a colorful rock area on the southwest flank of Fortification Hill. Purcell describes a "funky little peak surrounded by cliffs", with a break on the backside to make things workable. This was the most interesting peak of the day, I thought. I parked at the mouth of a wash leading to the Paint Pots area and headed up on foot. I turned north out of the main wash to approach the peak from the south. I found the breaks in the cliff easily enough, finding a bit of easy class 3 on a mostly class 2 effort. A few rocks were piled up at the cruxy point to make the step easier. The summit offers a fine view of Lake Mead and the surrounding Paint Pots - it looks as though the gods had spilled red, yellow and tan paints upon the folded landscape. To the east of the summit is a very striking split rock formation that looks to be class 5 - that might make for a interesting future adventure. I returned via much the same route, taking about an hour for the roundtrip effort.

After driving back to where I'd left Eric, we drove south to Kingman where we got dinner at the Dirty Dough Pizzeria and Tap Room in the old part of town, exceptionally good. So much so that we would pay it a second visit a week later. After dinner, we drove old US66 to Sitgreaves Pass in the Black Mtns where we met up with brother Jim. Iris and Tom would join us later in the evening, giving us a posse for the next day's adventure...


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