Lovell Canyon Trail in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest

Heading east from Death Valley, we decided to stop near where Route 160 crests, following signs to Lovell Canyon in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area. We began driving in low desert, but steadily climbed to above 5,000 feet in elevation within 10 miles, transitioning from Joshua trees to pinyon and juniper. Less than 12 miles from Route 160 then road dead-ended at Sky Mountain Ranch, next to which was the trialhead for the canyon.

Desert, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Desert, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

The Joshua Tree, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

The Joshua Tree, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Coming across a target shooting range in the desert, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Coming across a target shooting range in the desert, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

The trail was one of the best designed trails I’ve ever hiked, with gentle gradients and scenic turns through the trees hugging the sides of the canyon. We began by climbing the gentle switchbacks that led to the saddle, from which we had fantastic views into the bowl of Lovell Canyon, which lays 4 or 5 miles ahead. We descended a couple hundred feet from the high point of the saddle and continued winding our way across the slope, alternating descending and ascending to cross the major drainages. After a couple miles we split off on the Handy Peak Loop to the left, skirting the mountain before rejoining the Lovell Canyon Trail near the main wash. It was a delightfully refreshing few hours, hiking in the cooler air and amongst the trees; we were definitely buoyed by the tall pinyon and arid grassland which were a dramatic change from the stark, inhospitable desert of Death Valley.

Gently graded switchbacks up to the saddle, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Gently graded switchbacks up to the saddle, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

View from the top of the saddle (with the privately-owned Sky Mountain Ranch below), Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

View from the top of the saddle (with the privately-owned Sky Mountain Ranch below), Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Tom hiking ahead of me on the Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Tom hiking ahead of me on the Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Zoom shot of Lovell Canyon ahead, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Zoom shot of Lovell Canyon ahead, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Patches of snow in the shade on the Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Patches of snow in the shade on the Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

So happy to be amongst the trees after 5 days in the desert, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

So happy to be amongst the trees after 5 days in the desert, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Trail, Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Trail, Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Handy Peak Loop, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Interesting plant, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Interesting plant, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Late afternoon winter sun, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada

Late afternoon winter sun, Lovell Canyon Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humboldt-Toynbee National Forest, Nevada