hiking
2 days ago

Trail BLM404 (Black Mountain) is an easy hike most of the way until the last ½ mile when you might have to engage in some scrambling (class 2). Because of the distance and last segment of the hike, it is considered strenuous by most accounts; it kicked my butt pretty good

You access the trail via the Shadow Canyon Trailhead and follow a paved portion of the Anthem East Trail. There is a reservoir and you want to keep right of it (SE). You know you are on the right track if you pass by a small brick structure with a trail sign on it: find BLM404: this is the trail to Black Mountain. Follow along the top of the spillway till you see a sign that reads “Black Mountain Trail”. The trail itself is well marked from there and soon follows a ridgeline to the top.

Warm weather hiking is difficult due to the lack of shade so bring plenty of water (3 liters when hot, 2-1 liters when cool). While the landscape is stark in the beginning, there are breathtaking views of the valleys below as you hike along a ridge line with some switch backs.

As you get to higher elevations, there are small windswept Joshua Trees and about three types of Barrel Cactus. As you approach 1/3 of a mile from the peak, there are nice clusters of Teddy Bear Cholla… but be careful: these cacti are painful to brush by and often have little clusters that have fallen off the mother plant scattered about.

You will know when you are getting close to the peak as the trail gets steeper and more rugged with loose rocks and a steeper assent. You might want to have your hands free to steady yourself at that point. I was so focused on the trail; I was stunned by the abrupt appearance of a nicely made 9 foot diameter rock wall build around the benchmark medallion when I reached the peak. The wall had an opening, was about 3 feet high and gave great protection against any wind.

I found three benchmark medallions from the US Coast & Geodetic Survey at the peak.

The view was amazing from the top and totally worth the hike!