In our piece of the Chihuahuan Desert, the yucca, the limestone, and the earth tones seem to repeat in an endless pattern along the main roads; however, move off the beaten path a bit and suddenly new views explode into view, and the desert reveals secret oases and jaw-dropping scenes.
Few people know how to follow a road less travelled better than community member, Tom Hollis. Tom is a trail runner and local trail guide. He has the gift of taking a well-known place and showing an entirely new side of it. In his world of trails, there is rarely just one site to be seen. Each locality holds a number of exciting spots to explore.
For example, much beloved Sitting Bull Falls is known for its wonderful ¼ mile handicapped-accessible path to the waterfall. Many folks are also familiar with the Last Chance Canyon trailhead located in the smaller parking lot right before the main parking lot before the falls, but this is where the knowledge of lifelong residency and exploration come into play. The 10-mile loop of Last Chance Canyon contains hidden stone arches and a freshwater spring. The deep green water, fed by a small spring, mirrors a dramatic vaulting arch that rivals any from Arches National Monument. This place arises unexpectedly from a crossroads between the desert hills and a riparian wetland along the canyon floor.
Just a short trek off the trail, a hiker sticking to the path would never realize what lies just across the dry stream bed and around several willow trees. Tom recalls camping near these features growing up, and regularly visits these cherished sites on his long run days. Tom loves to share his knowledge of the local landscape. He delights in the expressions of joy these marvelous places bring. He teaches and shows folks in Carlsbad how to love the desert.
Interested in exploring some new places close to home? Tom is a member of the local Facebook group called “Carlsbad Athletes.” Find the group here to connect and find new places to explore around Carlsbad guided by Tom!
Article written by Kaity Hirst and originally published in Focus on Carlsbad 2021 Summer edition.