Exploration of Keystone Thrust to 7800ft, within 1/2 Mile and 200ft Below La Madre Mt. Summit
Overview to La Madre Mountain Western Approach
This is my favorite approach to La Madre Mountain due to the beauty of the terrain and the scenery. You begin in the scenic Willow Springs area (ample parking available), circle around between the Keystone Thrust Cliffs and White Mountain. Head up through the La Madre Springs area, pass an old Miner’s Cabin, then ascend to the top of the Keystone Thrust (the cliff system at the back of Red Rock Park). At the top take a right and travel along the very top of the Keystone Thrust ridge to La Madre Mountain with awesome views of Red Rock Park and Calico Basin (Turtlehead Peak and Ridge Between) along with amazing views of Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain, Mt. Wilson and Goat Peak/North Peak on the Piedmont Ridge at the Western end of Red Rock Park and Damsel Peak to the Southeast in Calico Basin. On the other side of the ridge there is Kyle Canyon and the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. The views continue to open up as you rise, and all the way you can see your destination, La Madre Mountain.
The downside of this approach is that it seems like a marathon distance by the time you’ve made the round trip with more exertion than a marathon due to the elevation gain (and loss and gain along the way). For this reason, as of the writing of this article I’ve made it to about 1 mile shy of the La Madre Mountain summit, though only about 300ft lower in elevation. However, ahead of me was a pretty substantial descent and re-ascent before reaching the summit.
Route Directions to La Madre Mountain Western Approach
Willow Springs Parking Area to La Madre Springs and the Miner’s Cabin
Park in the Willow Springs parking area at the upper Western area of Red Rock Park. At the upper end of the parking area take Rocky Gap Road for about 1/8th mile turning right at the intersection onto the trail that loops around the area between White Mountain and the Keystone Thrust cliff system. Continue along this very good trail (excellent for running), until it splits off to the left and upward to La Madre Springs (a well-marked intersection). Continue up through La Madre Springs with it’s beautiful waterfall system. At the top of the waterfalls continue upward to Miner’s Cabin.
Miner’s Cabin to Keystone Thrust Summit
Continue slightly to the left and upward above Miner’s cabin navigating to the top of the Keystone Thrust. A faint trail will appear, disappear and reappear, so keep your eye on the summit of the thrust and stick to the most logical route up the center of the ridge. There will be one or two class 3 climbs of perhaps 10-20ft. See the slideshow and videos for views of this route.
Keystone Thrust Summit to La Madre Mountain Summit
At the top of the Keystone Thrust take a right and head along the top of the Keystone Thrust staying close to the cliff edge on your right. The route along the top of the Thrust is fairly easy with little climbing or scrambling involved and very beautiful! The final mile to the La Madre Mountain summit involves a rather marked descent and re-ascent which I will document when I reach that point. It took me a little over 6 hours to reach this point and about 3 and a half to 4 hours to return to the point of origin.