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The Best Hikes in La Madre Mountain Wilderness

14 Triplog Reviews in the La Madre Mountain Wilderness
Most recent of 5 deeper Triplog Reviews
7.83 mi • 3,281 ft aeg
La Madre-El Padre loop
this hike was the focal point of the trip
linda invited me to do this with her several weeks ago
two new peaks with hikes on the drive there and back? i'm in
set out around 8:00 with perfect temps and light breezes
we had about a half mile road walk before veering off toward a ridgeline that led to la madre
completely off trail except for the road walk, but the ascent had good footing and minimal sticker bushes
steep at times, with a few little scrambles
came to a dull knife edge that offered an fun scramble at a 45 degree angle on good rock
the second best part of the hike
the rest of the summit push was easy, and we were soon on the peak
great views into red rock canyon, of el padre and the surrounding mountains
signed the register and took some pics
had to drop down a few hundred feet to a notch, then regain that to get to el padre
this part traversed along the drop off above red rock canyon, with great scenery the entire time
good terrain for off trail
there is another route that climbs from red rock canyon up to the notch
might be fun to ascend from that side sometime
el padre offered even better views to the south and we took a longer break there
continued along the escarpment to peak 7900, over another little peak with a short climb
the hike from la madre to 7900 was beautiful, the best part of the loop
the initial drop from 7900 wasn't as much fun, slow going down a face with poor footing
better once we hit a ridge, but still time-consuming
linda let me use one of her poles, which helped a great deal and was much appreciated
ended up on the road a bit further up, and enjoyed an easy walk back to our parking spot
fun to look back to see where we'd been
even the drive in was scenic, with joshua trees and yucca
different vegetation in the mohave desert
we were done early enough that we had time to drive over to red rock canyon and see where we'd been from below
red rock is beautiful, and i'd heard about it from my climbing partners
will have to come back to do some hiking
a great loop hike that was the centerpiece of a great trip
six new peaks for me over three days in completely new territory
what more could you ask for?
thanks for inviting me along, linda
loved it :)
7.83 mi • 3,281 ft aeg
La Madre-El Padre loop
I've been visiting Red Rock Canyon nearly annually for many years, and every time I'm there, I look to the north and think to myself "This is nice, but I want to be up there..." So I did a bunch of research on hiking to La Madre, realized I was mostly looking at El Padre, and decided I wanted to hike to the top of both. I determined that the easiest route was not from the Red Rock side (there is a route, but it's more aeg, and apparently has a Class 4 spot), but was actually from the Kyle Canyon Road side. I found some different routes and put together one that appeared to be the "best" option, with a few backup routes saved as well. I invited Kelly along since she likes peaks, and it's nice to have good company when you're driving 650 miles for an 8 mile hike. I put most of the hike information into two new trail descriptions, so I'll try not to rehash that too much.

We got started just after 8am to perfect temps and great weather. It had been very windy the day before, but just light breezes all day for this one. After a quick road walk, we turn east just past the wilderness sign, and headed to the ridge we planned to ascend. We found it, turned it southeast, and started heading up. We quickly came to a large round depression about 20' in diameter that was obviously man made; we couldn't decide if it was mining related, or an old agave roasting pit. Took a pic of that and continued on our way.

Going up the ridge was a lot of fun, and the higher we got, the better the scrambling became. The rocks and geology of the mountain and area is amazing, and we frequently stopped to take pictures. After a while, we left the grey rocks, and started going up a narrow ridge towards the summit. It was not narrow enough to be called a knife edge, but was certainly narrow. This area was one of the highlights of the day. Going up this entire ridge, we tended to stay to the right, but generally just went where ever it looked easiest.

It was a quick walk over to the summit, where we signed the register, rested and took pictures. This peak does not get many visitors, but there were a few from this year. The skies were hazy from all the wind the day before, so pictures of views off in the distance are not great.

Leaving the summit, we headed towards El Padre, following the edge of the escarpment the entire way. We immediately dropped a steep 450 feet. At the bottom of this drop is where the route from the Red Rock side comes up--it looks steep. We immediately regained 400 of those feet we just lost heading right back up to El Padre. The views are great along the edge. El Padre has better views of Red Rock, but the skies were just too hazy to see the colors. We signed the register there (even less visitors), and took a lunch break. It is possible to head straight down the drainage from El Padre, but it looks steep with a lot of scree. We opted to stay on my original route which goes further west before going down a ridge.

After there, we followed the edge over to Peak 7900, where we would begin our descent back down to the car. The scramble up the top half of La Madre, and the entire walk from La Madre over to 7900 was my favorite part of the hike. There's one small hill between El Padre and 7900, and between the hill and 7900 is that 10 foot wall we had to climb up. The gps route went to the left, but it looked exposed, so we went right and found a crack to easily climb up. Smooth sailing the rest of the way to 7900.

There are two ridges that leave 7900 to the north. The ridge to the right looks very doable, but there would be some brushy wash walking at the bottom. We took the ridge to the left as I had a track for that one. The top part is descending the very steep face through the burn area. We carefully picked our way down, then hit the ridge and followed it. It has less scrambling than La Madre, but in the few sections of it, it's generally best to stay to the right on the way down. This ridge has more brush too, and did get vague in places, but we eventually got to the road and followed it a mile back to the car, finishing up around 4pm.

I was so excited to finally get this hike checked off my list, and it exceeded all of my expectations. We finished out the day by driving around to Red Rock so Kelly could see the area and see what I had been looking at from that side of the mountain for all these years. Overall, a great day.
12.04 mi • 2,780 ft aeg
Plan A for the day was scrapped due to too much snow & wind, so North Peak was my backup plan. I got to the Willow Springs parking lot fairly early and decided to park there and walk up Rocky Gap Road. Partly because I had heard the road gets gnarly after a couple of miles, and partly because I wanted to enjoy the scenery rather than drive past all of it. Next time, I'll drive the first mile or so of the road to a large pullout, then walk the rest of the way. After that, the road does get pretty rough in spots.

I got started to the sound of running water in the creek paralleling the road, which made for pleasant background noise along the way. It was even windier on Tuesday than it had been on Monday, so I kept a jacket on the entire way. The road made for easy walking, with lots of nice scenery, so those five miles or so went by pretty quickly. At Red Rock Summit, I turned left (east) and got on the trail to North Peak & Bridge Mtn; they are the same trail at this point, and split after about a mile or so, which is clearly signed. It was very cold and windy along the trail, and I was hiking through snow about half of the way. I could see fresh footprints in the snow heading up, but none heading back down, so I figured I would see someone at some point--the first sign of another human I had seen all day.

At the sign, I headed left toward North Peak; Bridge Mtn looked interesting, but I think I'd want a partner for that one, and definitely not in the ice and snow. Shortly after I turned off, I encountered the other hiker whose footprints I had been following. We chatted for a few minutes, then I continued toward the summit. Just below the summit, the easy to follow trail gives way to a quick & easy scramble to the top. At the top, the wind was howling! I signed the register, then found some rocks to sit between and warm up while I ate lunch.

The hike back down was super easy. I was able to make good time on the road, and the wind lessened as I descended. As I was cruising along, halfway paying attention, I looked down and right in front of me was a rattlesnake. I jumped to the side and he let me know that my presence was not appreciated. At this point, I was wearing two layers of leggings, two shirts, a jacket, hat, and gloves--I was certainly not expecting to see a rattler! I took some pics just to annoy him, then continued on my way. The parking lot was a mob scene when I reached it, definitely a contrast to the near solitude I had enjoyed up to that point.
11.34 mi • 2,748 ft aeg
We took the wrong vehicle and so had to hike up Rocky Gap Road to this trail. It actually made for a better hike this way - otherwise too short to be worth the drive on such a poor road. Surprised to see so few people this day.

Good hike with a nice breeze to keep things cooler. Well-rewarded at the top with stunning views down to Red Rock Canyon. Sandwich cheese perfectly melted when we ate at the top. :D

Still a few yerba santa, penstemon and scarlet gilia flowering. A few impressive patches of blazing star in the deep gravel of the wash.
5.2 mi • 1,609 ft aeg
We had been up to the dam previously but had never explored beyond, so some new territory on this hike. A use trail continues up along the lovely flow from La Madre Spring. Although labeled as a single spring on the topo map, there is really a collection of seeps and springs along the canyon. Western red buds had just started flowering when we were there, making for a beautiful scene.

Crossing the water a few times, we enjoyed some small but lovely falls on the way up-canyon. The use trail eventually climbs out of the canyon and up to an old stone miner's cabin. Very fancy, with a enclosed "porch" area, although I suspect it was actually meant for the miner's mule or horse to hang out. Continuing above the cabin, we shortly reached the old mine shafts. Poked around a little, some of the shafts are vertical, some horizontal, but several seemed to connect to one another. The use trail appeared to continue beyond the mines toward La Madre Peak, but it was time to head back.

A fun little hike. We'll be back, hopefully with enough time to summit La Madre Peak.

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