The stark Colorado Desert, with its agave, ocotillo, and creosote, rises up boulder-strewn and eroded canyons to chaparral, juniper, and pine-covered ridges. Elevations change drastically from just above sea level to over 7,000 feet. Seemingly desolate and inhospitable, the Santa Rosa Mountains are laced with deep washes and shallow drainages. Several riparian streams flow year-round. Blistering summer heat is sometimes relieved by thunderstorms that send torrents of water down the sandy washes. Many of these regions are important lambing sites for bighorn sheep; in fact, the mountains support the largest herd of rare peninsular bighorn sheep in the United States. Coniferous forests high in these mountains provide habitat for mule deer, while the desert below houses numerous reptiles including the desert slender salamander. Great horned owls soar in the night skies, and falcons and eagles nest and forage throughout the Wilderness. The primary access into the Wilderness is the 9.5-mile Cactus Spring Trail.
Perhaps desert hiking is not my favorite hiking... But this was a well marked trail, heavy sand in the wash area, the ridge route was nice. Couldn't get a view of the valley, as the prohibited area protecting the Big Horn sheep prevented us from peeking over the ridge. I was a bit disappointed.
Brant V. on Randall Henderson Loop Trail
This was a nice little hike...more of a long walk. Trail is well maintained. Runners are fine. Was fun with the limited time we had available.
This was a nice little morning leg stretcher. There are nice views down into the valley and modest distance and elevation gain. Bering water and sun protection because this trail is very exposed. There were lots of folks out enjoying the trail today, and they were good company. Part of the trail is closed off the protect bighorn sheep. They didn't make an appearance though.
For the seasoned hiker, this is a very pleasant low-level walk from the Santa Rosa Monument center off Hwy 74. You can pick up a pamphlet at the monument that provides an explanation for the dozen or more discretely marked items of interest along the trail. You can choose to take a shorter loop if you wish. My wife and I really enjoyed this walk and have done it several times. There's also the chance of seeing Big Horn sheep. The Art Smith Trail is just across the road.
This is a nice desert trail. Come early in the summer and park across the hwy at the Art Smith trailhead parking lot. 8AM is really too late to start in the heat of the summer.
The trail is well marked, but as I can attest it is possible to get off of it on a spur to nowhere.
Not at all strenuous, but still a nice walk. Bring water and a big brimmed hat, that is just about the only shade you are going to get.