Sunday, October 3, 2010

NEW: Black Joe Mine-Horse Thief Canyon-Keyhole Canyon Trails

In his nearly tireless efforts to GPS track every offroad trail in southern Nevada before he turns 30, Mike took his jeep across "the dam" (or possibly we should call it "THE Dam") the other day with his son and captured two more trails: Black Joe Mine and Horse Thief Canyon.   [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: and is called the "Great Basin SUV Trails: Southern Nevada" map.]

He says his son loves to hike, which is a good thing because both of these trails end in a short hike to mines or the mountains, although at least one requires climbing gear.

As you can see from opening the map in Google Earth, both trail-heads are just a hop-skip-and-a-jump east of Boulder Dam on the Arizona side. ATVs or high-clearance 4WDs are a must on these trails due to rugged terrain and pinch points, and both have primitive camping opportunities.

Both of these trails, and the next one, have been added to the Great Basin SUV Trails: Southern Nevada master map even though these two are clearly in Arizona. This due to the proximity to Boulder City Nevada and the many other trails in the area which you could combine to make a full days outing.

A third trail, is located a bit further down Veterans Memorial Highway (NV-95)at Keyhole Canyon – and "there be petroglyphs!"

Of course, as usual, there is a barricade at the hike trail-head as this was/is an archaeological site – although any artifacts have long since been removed and all that remains is the rock art.

A short hike east from the trail-head will reveal areas of desert varnish on the cliff side to the north (left, going up). And, as you move closer, etched shapes of a "hunting motif" come into view.

To photograph the glyphs you will need to have brought your tripod and telephoto lens along for best results.

There are clan and "Indian blanket" motif's as well as the travel symbols similar to those in the Gold Butte area. No surprise, really, when you realize that these glyphs were here long before the dam blocked the path to "Lost City."

Goats representing the tribe's excursions as well as travel lines and "place" symbols are located in several places. There are also several "water-related" symbols of various shapes; again, no surprise when you look at the weathering of the rocks in the canyon.

A bit further up the canyon it is plain to see the results of years worth of water flow. Several "pour overs" are quite stunning and nearly beg to be climbed if you're up to that sort of stuff.

Those of you who find it easy to ride out of Boulder City are collecting quite a number of great trails in this master map. Most of them go to cooler areas than the hot desert floor– and wow, what great views.

For your convenience I have copied the three trail's description pop-up boxes below which list difficulty, length, sites and maps, etc..

Keyhole Canyon

Keyhole Canyon Trail
Description: Difficulty: 3/10; ATV, SUV, 4WD; Scenic: 7/10; Length: 3.5 mi into canyon, (Plus 17 from Searchlight); Time: 0.5 Day; Open: Year Round
Location: Start: Intersection of US-95 and NV-164 North of Searchlight. The trail can be taken in either direction.; End: Keyhole Canyon
Things to see: Native American campsite and waterhole in Keyhole Canyon, bring your climbing gear if you want to go more than a tenth of a mile. Look for the petroglyphs found throughout.
Source/Maps: 'Great Basin SUV Trails: Vol 1', Roger and Loris Mitchell; 1:100,000 Boulder City; Keyhole Canyon quad;. Created by: GPS track; Verified by: Michael Davidson (08/2010)

Horse Thief Canyon

Horse Thief Canyon Road Trail
Description: Difficulty: 4/10; ATV, 4WD; Scenic: 6/10; Length: 4.2 mi.; Time: 45 min.; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: There is a paved turn-off from US 93.; End: The trail ends when you reach a 20 foot high pour over that is basically impossible without rock climbing equipment.
Things to see: There are a number of places along the trail with interesting rocks to climb on and a variety of animal spotting opportunities. There is an approved primitive camping area at the end of the trail with more rock climbing opportunities.
Source/Maps: Submitted trail; Lake Mead NRA Hoover Dam Area Approved Back-country Roads (Map 2). Created by: GPS Track; Verified by: Michael Davidson (08/2010)

Black Joe

Black Joe Mine Rd (Lake Mead Route 65)
Description: Difficulty: 4/10; ATV, 4WD; Scenic: 4/10; Length: 3 mi.; Time: 30 min.; Open: Year-round.
Location: Start: There is a paved turn-off from US 93.; End: The end of the trail is not marked, it just fades away a bit.
Things to see: There is some interesting hiking to do in this area. Particularly there is a trail-head near the end of the road leading up to the actual mine site, which is historically and mineralogically interesting.
Source/Maps: Submitted trail; Lake Mead NRA Hoover Dam Area Approved Back-country Roads (Map 2). Created by: GPS Track; Verified by: Michael Davidson (08/2010)


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