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A nice walk in the desert, listed

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Heidi Kyser

The view from beyond the edge of town

Like most of the Southern Nevada hiking enthusiasts I know, I go to Red Rock a lot, Sloan Canyon not so much (twice now, I’m embarrassed to admit, in the 13 years I’ve lived here). But both places have been on my mind lately, because they’re our two local national conservation areas, and I’ve been following State Assemblyman Steve Yeager’s bill intended to protect NCAs from urban sprawl. To get to know Sloan Canyon a little better, this weekend I headed out to the Anthem East trailhead, located in a park behind Del Webb Middle School. After about half a mile, the Anthem East trail joins the McCullough Hills trail, a moderate, 8-mile hike that ends at the McCullough Hills trailhead on the southeast side of Henderson. I turned back to Anthem three miles from the end, for an 11-mile round-trip trek. Here’s what I saw along the way:

  • Hikers: Too many to count on the short, paved Anthem East trail; but fewer than a dozen in 10 miles on the McCullough Hills trail. (For comparison, on my Red Rock Hike last weekend, I saw a dozen people in the first half mile of the White Rock Loop trail.)
  • Mountain bikers: Eight total, six men and two women, who asked if I needed help while I was stopped to have a snack and reapply sunscreen
  • Trail runners: Five, including one heading out at noon, when the temperature was pushing three figures
  • People on horseback: None, despite ample signage along the path directing them where to ride
  • Gambel’s Quail: Several, most adorably a family with a bevy of chicks that I sent scurrying from the shade of a creosote bush
  • Other birds that I would need someone better at ornithology than I am to identify (cactus wrens?): A lot
  • Zebra Tailed Lizards: At least 20
  • Shade trees: Zero, nada, zip
  • Shade, in any form whatsoever: Only one patch, at a manmade rest area on top of a hill near mile 5 on the McCullough Hills trail
  • Rattlesnakes: None, despite warning signs that they’re out there
  • Views: Three pretty decent ones, of Vegas, Henderson, and Black Mountain
  • Petroglyphs: Not here. To get to this highlight of Sloan Canyon requires a somewhat longer drive, to the west side of Anthem and the south of Inspirada. Next time…

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