Started from Ramada #4 which is the Black Rock TH and walked up White Tank Mountain Road until it intersected with the Mesquite Trail. Took off down the Mesquite Trail and after about a 1/4 mile past the Waddell Trail intersection, the trail started to climb. It was gradual at first, but then it got quite a bit steeper and I was hitting some serious switchbacks the rest of the way up to the Willow Canyon Intersection. There was a few people, but not crowded like Waterfall Trail was. When I got to the Willow Canyon intersection, the trail leveled out for about 2 minutes and then I climbed some more switchbacks for about 1/2 mile and then the trail leveled out nicely and stayed that way until just before I reached the Ford Canyon Trail Intersection. There was a small, more gradual ascent there. Very scenic canyons, I would like to return here during the rainy season when there is some water flow at the bottom. You can tell where the water flows through just by the color of the rock. It's almost as though the water "bleaches" the rock white. There was a few solitary pools in Willow Canyon, but no flow. About 1/8 of a mile from the Ford Canyon Trail, you cross a wash and although it's not marked on the Trail marker here, after you cross it, you can turn left and proceed about 200 ft to Willow Spring. I spent about an hour in this area, messing around with the camera taking pics, and eating lunch. The area right at the Spring is kind of a little oasis and worth going to see. The Spring itself was barely seeping with just a couple of small pools present. The whole desert area of these hikes was very very dry. This area needs a good soaking rain.
Made it to the Ford Canyon Trail intersection and turned around. Was hoping to do a loop and go back via the Ford Canyon Trail, but with my late start, I knew it just would not be possible to get it done before dark and common sense told me not to try a strange trail in the dark with no light.
All in all, enjoyed this hike and definitely got in some cardio on the Mesquite Trail end of it. Very little wildlife, duh, middle of the day and the desert was pretty parched looking, but the wonderful variety of rocks made up for that. Would do this hike again, but probably try to do it after we've had some good rains.