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    Grimes Point Archaeological Area
    (Saturday, July 19, 2003 near Fallon, NV)

    See also my photo album from this hike.

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    Grimes Point Petroglyph Trail Sarah and I parked at the nearly empty parking lot at Grimes Point Archaelogical Preserve. It was soon completely empty except for us, as the other two cars had just stopped to use the facilities. It was 103°F - what better weather for a hike in the Nevada desert? I'd never contemplate doing any real hiking in these conditions, but the trails I had in mind were short, and we had plenty of water. We started out on the Petroglyph Trail, a well-signed and -maintained trail through the sagebrush.

    There were a good many petroglyphs and plentiful signs that detailed the history of the region and speculated as to what these carvings might have meant thousands of years ago when they were made (nobody knows for sure). It was difficult to believe, but way back when, this entire area was under water, covered by the gargantuan Lake Lahontan. We saw several fighters take off from the nearby Fallon Naval Air Station (current home of the "Top Gun" fighter pilot school) - they looked like they might've been the Blue Angels, but we were too far away to get a good look. They sure were loud, though! After 40 minutes or so, we were back at the car. I suggested taking the trail to Grimes Point itself, but Sarah wasn't too keen on doing any elevation gain in this weather. Can't say as I blame her!

    Although the sign at the parking lot said that Hidden Cave is only viewable via a guided tour to prevent vandalism, we decided to drive down the road anyways to see if there was anything to see. I'd read conflicting reports on the requirement of tours, so it seemed possible that there'd be something to see on our own. It turned out that all of my sources were correct - a guide is indeed required to visit Hidden Cave and its cave paintings. However, folks are welcome to do a self-guided walk in the general area whenever they wish. We picked up the self-guided walk brochure, grabbed some water, as this was a little longer of a hike than the sub-mile Petroglyph Trail, and hit the trail.

    Petroglyph on the Hidden Cave Self-guided Trail After passing some more excellent petroglyphs and lichen-covered rocks, I got our Nevada-desert-in-a-heatwave hike off to a brilliant start by getting us lost a few hundred yards in, and we wound up walking for a good ways out of our way. Naturally, upon returning to the last trail marker, the true trail was readily visible to the left - oh well, we didn't wind up as dessicated skeletons, so no harm done! We hiked up to Picnic Cave, a shallow grotto set into a hillside. Its ceiling was covered in tufa formations (the same stuff that Mono Lake is famous for), a remnant from when it was under Lake Lahontan and calcium carbonate deposits grew downwards as a stalactite from the "cave" roof. It was interesting, although Sarah and I agreed that it was stretching things a bit to call this a "cave."

    An old cave painting in Burned Cave As it was so hot, we decided not to do the complete loop (not much point in going by Hidden Cave when its closed), and instead went across the scrubby desert towards Burned Cave. We passed a sharply overhung cliff that the brochure said was a favorite nest of raptors. None were to be seen (probably enjoying their shady shelter), but there was ample evidence of predatory bird presence on the ground below the cliff. We hiked up a few stairs and arrived at Burned Cave. This cave featured some ancient cave paintings and some modern spray-paintings partially obscuring them (sigh - no wonder Hidden Cave requires a guide). We had to look around a bit before we could make out the cave paintings, but once we did, several were obvious. Its a shame that many of them had been vandalized. After taking in our fill, we headed back to the car and enjoyed its air conditioning!

    This was an enjoyable, if rather warm, hike - definitely don't miss it next time you're passing through Fallon, NV on U.S. Alt. 50 ;-)

    Hike Stats:
    Distance: ~2mi
    Total Time: 1h 15min
    Elevation gain: essentially flat
    Difficulty: 2, only because of the heat (do watch that!)
    Scenery: 7.5
    Trail condition, markings, etc: 6 - the Grimes Pt. trail is very easy to follow, but the self-guided Hidden Cave trail is less so.
    Overall rating: 7 - definitely stop by if you're in the area.
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    Last modified 08 February, 2011 MST
    Copyright © 2009 Adam R. Paul
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