Beginning at the back of the Indian Lodge parking area (5000 feet elev.), the trail is a gentle meander up the canyon to a ridge. As we ascended, a red-tailed hawk graced us with his presence, landing in the face of 200-300 foot cliff jutting out from the ridge. Switching back a lot to get up to the first ridge, a little sidetrack took us up to the top of that cliff where we saw the hawk land. Looking back, it's 300 feet down into the canyon below, nearly vertical. The trail then takes you on up the ridge to the fence line. As you ascend along the fence, look out to the northwest to see the telescopes of the McDonald Observatory about 7 miles in the distance. As we climbed a fairly steep grade to the next ridge, a large deer jumped out from the path. This doe was curious about us and stood about 50 feet away and watched us go by. Caught it all on the camcorder! About another hundred yards or so, all was quiet until we startled a very large animal behind a tree. The large, black, lumbering animal had to be a black bear. He made large thumping sounds as he ran off. Another 300 foot ascent took us to the highest point there in the park at a little over 5600 feet. A granite outcropping lets you look straight down into the canyon below. Just off the trail the next day we saw a group of around a dozen javelina... watch for wildlife on this trail! The descent takes you around the back of the mountain first, where you can look down into Limpia Canyon. Off in the distance you can see the Prude Ranch and the VBLA telescope dish. They were moving it as we looked. The trail gets quite a bit slippery and treacherous due to the crumbly rock at your feet. My wife slipped and fell in one area, and scared us all quite a bit... if she had slipped of the side of the trail, it is at least a couple hundred feet to the next landing. We took the "Y" to the left and continued on the Headquarters Trail, where we stopped at another boulder outcropping to find a geocache. Carefully treading, be sure and watch for another "Y" in the trail. DO NOT take the left fork. We did by mistake and got way off on a trail that was later determined to be closed - and for good reason. We relocated some of the marking rocks to help encourage folks to go to the right. The left area is very dangerous. We descended through some switchbacks, then ended up meeting the other part of the HQ trail at the road. Another 0.5 miles up the paved road took us back to the Lodge. All in all, a great 3 to 4 hours! We made a video of this hike set to music. It's available here: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5688222935386187795 . Enjoy!
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