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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

Calico Tanks, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Nevada

If you're looking for a moderately challenging hike that takes you through multicolored layers of rock with some effort, this hike is for you. Rated a moderate hike despite its short distance (2.5 miles), Calico Tanks will require you to sometimes scramble, climb and boulder over a rock or five.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area, near Las Vegas, Nevada

Historic Railroad Tunnels (Lake Mead NRA) to Hoover Dam, Nevada

Hoover Dam is an attraction to many visiting Las Vegas. Built in the 1930s, it was the tallest dam in the world at the time. The Dam produced the largest reservoir in the world, known as Lake Mead. The railroad that carried supplies 24 hours a day for the building of Hoover Dam was recently converted to a trail. It's trailhead starts near Lake Mead NRA’s (National Recreation Area) Alan Bible Visitor Center. Designated a National Historic Trail, the Historic Railroad Trail goes through five tunnels and leads to the top of Hoover Dam.

Devil's Postpile National Monument, California

Our day started early for a hike in Devil's Postpile National Monument. We had breakfast in the park and began our hike. The hike to the postpiles was short about 1 mile roundtrip. The postpiles look like tall tree trunks stacked high and upright against each other, measuring 40-60 feet (12 to 18 meters) high.  These Postpiles were formed as a product of the slow cooling of a hot basalt lava lake. The lava lake was 400 feet deep and existed between 80,000 to 100,000 years ago. As the lava lake cooled, cracks (called joints by geologists) formed to release the tension that lay within. Cracks extended from the outside in, forming these hexagonal columns. These hexagonal columns were later exposed by many forces, one of them being glacial excavation. You can see the glacial striations on the rock at the top of the columns on the hexagonal “tiles”. Though very much man-made in appearance, these hexagonal shapes are common in nature - example bee hive honeycomb, packed bubbles, eyes of flies.  For more information on the geology of these postpiles, see Geology of Devil's Postpile

Phantom Falls, Oroville, CA

Phantom Falls is located in the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, near the town of Oroville, California. It is a seasonal waterfall, flowing only during the wet season, and disappearing during the dry season, hence its namesake. Phantom Falls, also known as Coal Canyon Falls, flows near the end of Coal Canyon. It flows over cliffs of basalt columns formed by ancient lava flows. North Table Mountain is a mesa-like structure that is both tall and flat, forming a table top like formation. There are many waterfalls on North Table Mountain, as creeks and streams make their way down from the table top cliffs. 

Berkeley Rocks Urban Hike, Berkeley, California

Rocks are fascinating! They tell stories of our earth's history in a way not many other things can. I read about this hike in Bay Nature regarding these ancient volcanic rocks from 11.5 million years ago from an area just south of San Jose. These rocks were carried north about 50 miles to its current Iocation in Berkeley as the continental plates moved past each other.  There are several city parks that contain these volcanic rocks in the Berkeley area. We hiked a loop starting at Remillard Park, to Cragmont Rock Park, to Mortar Rock to John Hinkel Park then to Grotto Rock. Our total distance including accidental detours was 3.7 miles.