Big Daddy of Red Rocks
El Padre Mountain is the distinctive mountain overlooking the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area from the north. The escarpment is called Keystone Thrust, and is a beautiful example of a thrust fault. Most hikers summiting El Padre also hike La Madre, but it can be done as a stand alone hike. The easiest approach to El Padre is from Kyle Canyon road on the north side of the mountain, starting from the same place you would start a La Madre Mountain hike, but ascending a ridge farther to the west. The description starts from what I have termed the Upper Parking Area (see driving directions below). Starting from the Lower Parking area would add another 1.3 miles one way, and an additional 500' aeg, all road walking. The Upper Parking Area has three or four single vehicle pullouts within about 500' of each other.
From the Upper Parking Area, start walking southeast up the road for one mile. NOTE--I have not checked the exact wilderness boundary, but it may be possible to drive this one mile. If you are doing the loop with La Madre as well, don't bother, but if you are only hiking to El Padre, this may be a nice way to save some time.
The road ends at the one mile mark, and you will continue south (slightly southeast at times) up the ridge. It is not clearly defined at times, and the junipers obscure your view, but as long as you are ascending, you should be on the right track. There is an occasional cairn, and they don't seem to be placed at any useful points, but are a nice reassurance that you are going the correct direction. The ridge is very steep at times, and very thick with vegetation in places. A hiking pole is very useful on this route.
As you ascent, the ridge becomes more defined, and your initial goal is Peak 7900. It will be to the south, and the top portion of it facing you shows clear evidence of a fire at the top. Continue heading up the ridge towards that peak. There is some scrambling, all easy and with a clear route over or through the rocks. Staying slightly to the left while ascending most of the rock piles seemed to have the best route. Just as you're reaching the burn area, the ridge sort of gives way, and you will ascend STEEPLY up through the burn area to the top of the peak. There's no defined path, just work your way up.
At the top of 7900, turn to the southeast, and head to the next small "peak" that is between you and El Padre. You're generally following the ridge. About halfway to the small peak, you will encounter a wall that drops about 10 feet. Toward the left side of the wall, there is a crack to climb down. That wall is probably the toughest ten feet of the entire hike, but if you've made it that far, it shouldn't be a problem. After that, continue on the ridge (enjoying the views), over the small peak, then head to El Padre. Walking the edge of the escarpment is incredible. The drop to the south down into Red Rock is amazing, and makes the ridge walk one of my favorite sections of hiking of all time.
At the summit of El Padre, there is plenty of room to sit and rest, and there is a register. The views in all directions are amazing. When done, you can retrace your steps back down, or continue to La Madre Mountain--although, if you're going to do a loop, it is actually easier to do La Madre first, and descend from El Padre.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.