Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread: SoCal & AZ Overland Adventure: December 23rd-26th, 2011

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default SoCal & AZ Overland Adventure: December 23rd-26th, 2011


    SoCal & AZ Overland Adventure

    Dec. 2011


    Highlights:
    Bradshaw Trail
    Cibola National Wildlife Refuge Trail
    Black Mountain
    Picacho State Recreation Area
    Ferguson Lake/Lower Colorado River
    Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: Red Cloud Mine Road (Arizona)
    Kofa National Wildlife Refuge: Palm & Kofa Queen Canyon (Arizona)

    Overall route.


    This was an overland route that I've wanted to do for some time now, to not only explore new trails and areas but to also scout out new places to fish. I had four days available over the long holiday weekend so I made my plans, got my gear together and set out. On average I would cover about 100 miles a day.

    My first stop was on the east side of the Salton Sea and the Bradshaw trail. The end of this trail would put me just a few miles from the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, along the Colorado River where I would set up camp fir the first night.

    The next day from Cibola Wildlife Refuge, I'd head south to Black Mountain Road to Indian Pass Road which heads into the Picacho State Recreation Area. Following Picacho Road back towards civilization and along county roads I made my way to Ferguson Lake Road which took us to a backwater lake along the river and the second night's camp.

    After break camp at Ferguson Lake the next morning we headed into Arizona to Martinez Lake. Taking Red Cloud Mine Road into Imperial NWR, we found our way to the Arizona side of the Cibola Wildlife Refuge. North of Cibola Lake, we followed Ehernberg-Cibola Road east through the Yuma Proving Grounds to Highway 95 and then north to Quartzite to refuel. Back tracking south we entered Kofa NWF and make camp along Palm Canyon Road.

    On the last day we finished exploring this small part of the refuge along with Kofa Queen Canyon and headed home. There was a trail that passes through the Castle Dome Mountains that I also wanted to check out but we ended up being short on time so I'll now I have another reason to head out there again.


    Day 1: Bradshaw Trail to Cibola National Wildlife Refuge Trail

    The water line of ancient Lake Cahuilla can be seen on the hills west of the Salton Sea.


    This suggests of the possibility of one or more ancient ships entrapped in the Salton Basin after entry via the Colorado River, according to a few local legends.


    North Shore Beach & Yacht Club


    Salton Sea


    The shore was littered with dead Talapia.






    Heading towards the Bradshaw Trail, along the Cochella Canal.


    Start of the trail. Nicknamed the Gold Road at one time, this historic overland stage route in Southern California originally connected San Bernardino, California to gold fields in La Paz, Arizona, some miles north of Ehrenberg. It was the first road connecting Riverside County to the Colorado River.

    Its remainder, a graded dirt road, traverses southeastern Riverside County and a part of Imperial County, beginning roughly 12 miles east of North Shore and terminating about 14 miles southwest of Blythe for a total of 70 miles.


    Here you see the route of the old canal.


    The new one is fenced in. So much for fishing it.


    Stay on the trail!




    Abandoned railroad tracks.












    Some of the biggest Cholla I’ve seen.


    I found the lost ship of pearls!




    This was a nice campground.
    Last edited by BorregoWrangler; 01-03-2012 at 12:01 AM. Reason: What's it to ya?
    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default Continued...



    Coming to the end of the trail.


    You pass over this canal at the end.


    Any good fishing here?


    Another canal.




    Cibola Bridge over the Colorado River.






    The Cibola Wildlife Refuge Trail is located in the floodplain of the lower Colorado River and surrounded by a fringe of desert ridges and washes. The refuge encompasses both the historic Colorado River channel as well as a channelized portion constructed in the late 1960's. Along with these main waterbodies, several important backwaters are home to many wildlife species that reside in this portion of the Sonoran Desert. Because of the riverís life sustaining water, wildlife here survive in an environment that reaches 120 degrees in the summer and receives an average of only 2 inches of rain per year.

    The trail starts at Cibola Bridge and travels parallel to the Colorado river. This is mainly a dirt road and is bordered with arrow weeds at many places.


    Campsite along the river with a nice spot to fish from.




    Campsite along oxbow lagoon.






    End of the route, across from Walters Camp.






    The old river channel. The original Colorado River in the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge, bypassed and abandoned by government agencies. Neglect has caused a major migratory corridor for numerous bird species to become polluted and overgrown. Invasive plants have replaced quality native habitat mesquite, cottonwood and willows that once existed along the river. The levee was supposed to let water flow through to the old channel but has become filled with silt.


    First campsite of the trip.




    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default Day 2: Cibola NWR to Ferguson Lake

    Sunrise over the Colorado River.


    I ended up running over a nail in the road...


    Another campsite along a lagoon.


    Palo Verde Lagoon.


    One of many camp sites along the old river channel.


    I'll have to come fishing here over the spring.


    Next stop, Black Mountain.


    A partially difficult trail, Black Mountain Road starts at California 78 and ends near Ogilby and Indian Pass Road.


    Although the road up is paved, it is quite deteriorated.




    The trail at first takes you on a graded road along the base of Black Mountain. This soon changes to a single-lane paved road as you start ascending the northern section of the mountain. The terrain is largely made up of black volcanic boulders and a mix of vegetation like ocotillos, chollas and creosore bushes.






    At the top of the Black Mountain you see communication towers. The view also includes Chocolate Mountains, parts of Colorado river, Arizona, Cargo Muchacho Mountains and Picacho Peak.


    Looking west over the Imperial Sand Dunes, Salton Sea, and Laguna Mountains.


    Views east over the Colorado River.


    When you descend the Black Mountain the trail again turns into a dirt road and it gets quite steep. As the ground is made up of loose soil which gets worse when it rains. At the bottom, the trail moves across a bajada and small washes.




    Getting steeper...




    Made it!


    Driving the pole line road to Indian Pass.


    Picacho Peak in the distance.


    Indian Pass.


    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default Continued...

    One hundred years ago Picacho was a gold mining town with about 100 citizens. Today the site is a State Park, popular with boaters, hikers, anglers and campers. The park offers diverse scenery, including beavertail cactus, wild burros, bighorn sheep and thousands of migratory waterfowl. Eight miles of the lower Colorado River are the recreation area's eastern border.


    $5.00


    One of my favorite places to camp.


    This is not the typical Colorado River party zone, campers are mostly kayakers, fishermen, birders and hikers. The area has two boat launch ramps as well as fish cleaning stations where you can clean your channel and flathead catfish, blue gill, and bass. The area has some nice hikes and great picture taking opportunities. What was left of the old gold mining town of Picacho was inundated when Imperial Dam was built and the old cemetery was moved near the camping area.




    Continuing through the park.




    Taylor Lake


    This trail takes you to an overlook of the river at the south end.




    Mule Deer


    On the way out I ran into Dave of Adventure Duo and his CalZona Expedition so I stopped to chat for a bit.


    Crossing the All American Canal.


    Meeting up with Steve and Shellie, we set off for camp along Ferguson Lake.


    Ferguson Lake is a backwater connected to the lower Colorado River that provides camping, fishing, boating, hiking, and hunting opportunities. A number of undeveloped shoreline campsites provide recreational boating access and stunning views of the Colorado River. Trails leading into the adjacent Little Picacho Wilderness Area provide ideal day-hiking opportunities from your campsite.


    Home for the evening.
    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default Day 3: Ferguson Lake to Imperial and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

    View point on Ferguson Lake Road.


    Crossing over the Colorado River and into Arizona.


    We made a short stop at Camp Laguna Desert Training Center.




    Past Martinez Lake we enter Imperial National Wildlife Refuge along Red Cloud Mine Road. The Imperial National Wildlife Refuge protects wildlife habitat along 30 miles (50 km) of the lower Colorado River in Arizona and California, including the last un-channeled section before the river enters Mexico. The Imperial Refuge Wilderness, a federally designated, 15,056-acre (60.93 km2), wilderness area is protected within the refuge.


    There a several overlooks of the river and its backwaters along the way. The river and its associated backwater lakes and wetlands are a green oasis, contrasting with the surrounding desert mountains. It is a refuge and breeding area for migratory birds and local desert wildlife. The Red Cloud Mine Road is the only scenic drive on the property, and if you want to go further than to the Painted Desert Trail, you'll want a good, high-clearance 4WD under your seat. There are lookout points at the Mesquite, Ironwood and Smoke Tree pullouts. Meers Point offers a boat launch with tables and toilets on the shore. The Painted Desert Trail is a 1.3-mile self-guided trail though an area of 30,000-year-old volcanic activity that also offers some great views over the Colorado River valley.






    A spot to launch a boat.




    Back on the main trail.




    Gettin' rough...




    Wild burros.




    Clip Wash has a few rocky steps to traverse.








    We finally make our way back to the river, opposite of where I camped on the first day.




    North of Cibola NWT we make our way east along Cibola-Ehrenberg Road to Highway 95, then north to Quartzite to refuel.


    Kofa Range in the distance.


    We finally arrive to the Kofa NWR and make camp along Palm Canyon Road.


    As we stop at the monument sign some guy in a truck pulls up alongside Steve and Shellie. He smiles and ominously says, "It's gettin' dark out..." then slowly drives away...
    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620

    Default Day 4: Kofa National Wildlife Refuge

    For 57 miles, US 95 cuts through the desert of Southwest Arizona - quite flat, perfectly straight and aligned exactly north-south, and interrupted only by the small town of Quartzsite. In the mild seasons of winter and early spring, much traffic uses the road, bringing sun seekers from all over the US to Yuma and on into Mexico, but few travel to this region in summer, when temperatures of over 120įF are not uncommon. Rain falls on only a few occasions each year - the summer thunderstorms that affect the higher areas of Arizona rarely extend this far. South of Interstate 10, US 95 is bordered by the Yuma Proving Ground to the west and the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to the east - a protected area 25 x 40 miles in extent with no paved roads or facilities of any kind. The refuge is an excellent place for viewing desert plants and wildlife, rock climbing, exploring old mines, or just camping in remote wilderness.

    Morning along Palm Canyon Road.


    It was cold!


    Signal Peak in the distance.








    This graded dirt road provides access to Palm Canyon, from where a short hike leads to views over what is possibly the only community of native palms in Arizona. The trail itself is suitable for passenger vehicles. This area has sweeping views west over the La Posa Plain to the Trigo Mountains and Chocolate Mountains and is especially lovely at sunset. The California palm fans, from which the canyon derives its name, are thought to be remnants from an era when Arizona was a lot cooler and wetter than it currently is. The cooler air within the canyon, lack of direct sunlight, and slightly moister conditions have allowed the trees to survive. The hiking trail to view the palms is a rough but well defined path that climbs up into the canyon for half a mile to a viewing point.

    Start of the hiking trail.


    California palm fans.


    Looking back down the canyon.


    Now on our way to Kofa Queen Canyon.




    This spur trail is one of the few within the Kofa NWR that travels up one of the high walled red canyons that penetrate into the rugged Kofa Range. After leading off from Palm Canyon Road, the trail is smooth and easy going for the first 4 miles. At 4.3 miles is a large flat area good for camping. At the mouth of the canyon the trail drops into a gravelly wash and remains in it until the end of the route. Big horn sheep like the habitat within the canyon and can often be seen in the early morning and evening high up on the canyon walls. The wash is generally loose and gravelly, with only a few rough boulders to contend with. The last mile, however, is quite brushy, and most vehicles will collect a few scratches.


    Skull Rock.




    End of the trail.




    On our way back out.






    By the time we had finished up here it was already 11AM. I ended up having to work that night so we had to skip the 5+ hour trail through the Castle Dome Mountains. I'll save that for another day. After airing up and parting ways with Steve and Shellie, I hit the road and made it back home around 3:30PM. It was a great trip, seeing and exploring new areas and places to fish. I'll have to do it again sometime.

    Hope you enjoyed the report!
    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    SLC
    Posts
    168
    Sweet report.

    I have never been down that way and have often wondered what's there.

    Thanks for opening my eyes.
    1999 UZJ100

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    North Ogden, Ut
    Posts
    1,913
    Had many a good time driving though Picaho and Clip wash while living in Yuma. Thanks for posting up the photos.

    Did you all stop to explore some of the open mines/caves while driving though clip wash?
    2002 Toyota 4runner - with some goodies.

    SmallFrye-Travels

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Phx, Az
    Posts
    4,685
    Very cool report and thanks for the pics & commentary along the way.
    I have been to a bit of that area but you have made we want to go back and explore more.
    thanks
    cigar smoking, wilderness first responding, ham talking night nurse who is overland certified and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.....
    now everyone say "so what where have you been lately?"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    San Diego, CA
    Posts
    620
    Thanks guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by ttora4runner View Post
    Did you all stop to explore some of the open mines/caves while driving though clip wash?
    No, unfortunately we didn't have enough time on that leg of the route. That day was the longest on the trail and we managed to set up camp just after sunset. I'll have to explore clip wash more when I'm out at the river again.
    John
    1989 YJ
    2000 TJ

    "May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view." -Edward Abbey

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •