ALL HIKERS

DRIPPING SPRINGS - WALDRON HIKE
APRIL 23, 2012

    Keith Beaty and I are doing a warm-up hike in preparation for another hike later this week down to Horseshoe Mesa.  Our hike today is a Dripping Springs - Waldron loop day hike like the one I did in 2006. 

     We drive down the Well Rowe Road until reaching the picnic table and then turn west on the old Waldron Road.  After an initial wrong turn, we finally make our way down the correct road until reaching a locked gate where we park the car.

Trail markers
4-23-2012 @ 11:11
Locked gate
4-23-2012 @ 11:11
Our parked car
4-23-2012 @ 11:12

     When I did this hike six years ago, you were allowed to drive all the way to the Waldron trailhead and park there.  It's just over one mile from the locked gate to the Waldron trailhead, but we continue walking straight ahead on the old boundary road past the trailhead sign.

Waldron trailhead sign
4-23-2012 @ 11:31
An old tin can
4-23-2012 @ 11:34
Boundary road
4-23-2012 @ 12:00

     After another mile or so, we turn to the right on a very faint road and angle toward the west side of Dripping Springs.  Pretty soon we reach the trailhead sign.

   
  Dripping Springs sign
4-23-2012 @ 12:13
 

     In late spring, it's easy to find a lot of blooming flowers.

Indian Paintbrush
4-23-2012 @ 1:01
Phlox
4-23-2012 @ 1:54
Hedgehog Cactus
4-23-2012 @ 2:10

     We attempt a cross-country shortcut before the end of the road, but get cliffed out, so we make our way back to the road and walk to the end of it.  We then start downhill and soon come to a galvanized post that may have held the trailhead sign at one time.

Starting downhill
4-23-2012 @ 1:43
Galvanized post
4-23-2012 @ 1:50

     Then it's a lot of twists and turns as we make our way to the east high above Dripping Springs.

The trail downhill
4-23-2012 @ 2:01
Above Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 2:16
Above Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 2:16

     When we eventually start down, we come to some metal hooks with logs in them.  We speculate that these were put here by Louis Boucher over a century ago to help his mules get traction on the slick rock ledges.

Metal hooks on logs
4-23-2012 @ 2:21
Metal log hook
4-23-2012 @ 2:21

     There are more blooming flowers along the way and a very pretty Redbud tree at Dripping Springs.

Scarlet Penstemon
4-23-2012 @ 2:23
Globemallow
4-23-2012 @ 2:32
Redbud Tree
4-23-2012 @ 2:45

     In just a few more minutes, we arrive at Dripping Springs.  Another couple is there, so we get them to take our picture.  There seems to be more water dripping from the overhang than when I was here last.

   
  Almost to Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 2:34
 
 
Richard and Keith
4-23-2012 @ 2:40
Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 2:44
Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 2:44

     Just after leaving Dripping Sprints, we come to another set of the metal log holders like the ones we found earlier.  I'm a little surprised that Boucher needed them here as this is a very flat location, unlike the steep rock ledges we came down on to reach Dripping Springs.  We soon pass the Boucher trailhead sign and turnoff.

Leaving Dripping Springs
4-23-2012 @ 3:04
Metal log holders
4-23-2012 @ 3:06
Trail signs
4-23-2012 @ 3:17

     This part of the Dripping Springs Trail is almost flat and very easy walking.  The views down the Hermit Gorge are quite good.  I always have a hard time spotting Santa Maria Spring on the east side of the gorge, so Keith points out where it is.

Hermit Basin
4-23-2012 @ 3:24
Hermit Gorge
4-23-2012 @ 3:35
Hermit Gorge
4-23-2012 @ 3:35

     We pass the turnoff to the Hermit Trail and start the uphill slog.  In a few minutes, we reach the Waldron trail and turn right on it.  I have seen trip reports with pictures of Petroglyphs on this part of the Waldron, but we never find any.

Trail signs
4-23-2012 @ 3:55
Hermit Trail
4-23-2012 @ 4:06
Trail sign
4-23-2012 @ 4:16

     There is a huge clump of Small-flowered Milkvetch plants here.

   
  Small-flowered Milkvetch
4-23-2012 @ 4:27
 

     I am a little pooped, so Keith continues on up the trail while I take a much slower pace.  I slowly make my way up the steep switchbacks and eventually meet Keith at Horse Thief Tank, which, as usual, is bone dry.

Horse Thief Tank Dam
4-23-2012 @ 5:45
Horse Thief Tank
4-23-2012 @ 5:45

     Then it's just a few more minutes to the Waldron trailhead.  However, it's a real bummer having to walk another mile uphill on the Waldron Road to our parked car at the locked gate.  It's getting late and I'm glad to be back at the car.

Waldron trailhead
4-23-2012 @ 5:54
Waldron Road
4-23-2012 @ 5:58
Our parked car
4-23-2012 @ 6:16

     This was a very good day hike.  It is one I think you will enjoy and I highly recommend it.  Our trip highlights were:

  • Dripping Springs.

  • The wonderful views of the Hermit Gorge.

     If you are doing this loop, I have the following recommendations:

  • This hike is suitable for either direction.  If it is very dry, you might want to do it the direction we did it to avoid going down the steep, gravel switchbacks on the Waldron.  Unlike when I last did this hike in 2006, you are now only allowed to drive part way to the Waldron trailhead until you reach a locked gate.  It is just over one mile from the locked gate to the Waldron trailhead.  However, you should be able to reach the parking area at the locked gate in a regular passenger vehicle.  Be sure you get directions from the Rangers at the Backcountry Office and have a detailed map or GPS with topographical software. 

  • The walk on the Boundary road from the Waldron trailhead to the Dripping Springs trailhead is approximately 3.5 miles.  The total hike length is approximately 10 miles.  The elevation loss going down the Dripping Springs Trail is approximately 1200 feet and the elevation gain going up the Waldron Trail is approximately 1050 feet.

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