|5,100 ft AEG|
|A great loop... and then some packless wandering...
Rounding the Roundup… this loop may well be the best trail hike in the Alamo area.
Starting off from the Alamo Canyon trailhead, the half mile walk along t104 is all old road… and just at the point where that trail turns into slogging up the canyon bottom, instead a short cut over to start up the newly signed Roundup Canyon Trail (t107). Newly signed, yet never maintained… it is rough! Today, We only use it to ascend to the top of the cliffed bench winding around the west, north and south sides of the Roundup Grounds Plateau. Once up, we soon take off across the broad meadow, walking the short track easterly or striking out along the cliff edges for better views.
The Roundup Grounds Trail stayed with the cliff edges ranging along Deadman Canyon, proceeding counter clockwise; we follow clockwise ranging over Alamo Canyon.
Great views to the south of RockSprings Canyon and RockSprings ridge; best route to make your way up to the Lady. You can easily spot the mistake of trying to hike down and off the ridge: cliffs out!
Crossing the meadow area you look north to see the features along Alamo Ridge: Alamo Point, Busted Buttress, Side Canyon and finally, The Gap. The Gap really is far enough along to be a feature off of The Mesa, and Gap Canyon affords the potential to access the Mesa from Alamo Canyon.
The far side of the meadow and the trail moves into Arch Canyon with a great dryfall to extend the first break of the day. For our beginner’s hikes this is often our turnaround point. Nap on the bedrock slabs or go play in the namesake Arch.
Though from this point on the trail clings close to the top of the cliffs, you are not really aware of that feature. The views are too distracting; the walking is easy; the vistas too inviting. It’s difficult not to reflect on hiking one of the canyons or ridges that constantly turn into view as you work your way around the bends.
The canyon past the Gap, also rising up to meet the Mesa, fails to allow reasonable egress. That adventure will be up and back down… or will have to include a high traverse around to the Gap… or east over into the next drainage: the Picnic Canyons.
More often than not, the Picnics are hiked for the great lower Dryfall formations in the bisecting bottom cuts; they are impressive. Venture beyond and above either of those falls and you will be earning your way. The Picnics include six upper drainages… all extremely challenging.
As the cliffs trails makes the sharp bend to the south, Caballero Canyon splits off to the east. You can look across and spot the trail… and look beyond and catch glimpses of Hershberger Canyon, the south door to Hershberger Peak.
Dividing Caballero Canyon and Alamo Canyon: Aquaduct Ridge. The City pipeline comes pouring over the cliffs opposite the Roundup Cliffs trail that we are hiking. That used to be our exit route… grab hold and cling for a very steep descent. Now, we hike the easy trail down Pipe Springs Canyon; it comes into view as we hike the close cliff edges of the last section before intersecting T107 near its upper trailhead.
Before we drop down to T107 there are views up Alamo Canyon and perspective views on Purgatory Canyon and Purgatory Ridge. If you know what you are looking at you can also see Alamo Peak and Purgatory Peak in the far distance.
Turning up T107 we soon spot the split where Roundup Trail Canyon departs from the main Roundup Canyon. The primary canyon rises up to splay out below Long Ridge. Looking back we can see the upper T107 Trailhead down in Alamo Canyon… just across from Pipe Springs Canyon. At the old metal trough the trail takes off around out of that canyon to rejoin and cross it higher up… a cattle path used to access the water above and below. It really is a piped spring; the ranchers have tapped into the city water line ! The lower trough is filled by an abs line on the surface… makes it easy to follow the path when exiting or entering the canyon.
T107 is not hard on the east side… and generally flat as it crosses the upper saddle. It winds down gently next to one of the Deadman Canyon cuts to start out. In fact, you can effect an off trail traverse from all the easterly branches of upper Deadman over to T107 for a simple exit.
Unfortunately, decades without maintenance have made the west side descent on the trail not as nice. It is steep. It is rough. It does afford great vista views: Upper Deadman… Upper RockSpring… The Hole in the Wall… Steamboat… The Lady. All Nice.
Once down near the lower cliff tops note the final carsonite sign. It marks the intersection for the Spur trail over into Deadman Canyon; very handy route.
As we pass our initial point of departure for the Roundup Cliffs loop and wind down the final section of T107, the entry dryfall at the mouth of RockSprings Canyon stands out… very inviting bit of terraced slabs.
I’ve hiked these routes dozens of times. I typically move at a brisk pace. I look at what surrounds me, but rarely do I really see to the extent of taking everything in… I find that the benefit of my recent knee injury has gifted me with a slower, more absorptive pace. I see more.
My list of exploratory hikes right in the areas I’ve been hiking for years grows with each outing!
Of course maybe I’m not so slow…
I noted when I hit the far end of T107 I’d averaged around 1.6 mph. Before I’d reached the saddle my average had jumped up to 6.8 mph! I’d scored the increase all on the uphill! …and, in less than half a mile! 3.5 hours out with an average pace of 6.8 mph… Wow!
It did make me reflect back on being a trail runner and really averaging 7 mph over legs of the relay races I used to run, Hood to Coast being my favorite. Was not all that long ago… 1998?
On this day, in this time… I walk. I see.
Another great day out… and, if someone would log a few hours cleaning up T107, this would be the best trail loop in the area.
|Ageless Mind... Timeless Body... No Way! Use It and Lose It. Just the way it is...|