Southern Nevada hikers have a special reason to celebrate National Public Lands Day this Saturday, September 24: the South Loop Trail at Mount Charleston is reopening after three years of closure.
Friends of Nevada Wilderness is hosting a final South Loop Trail restoration event in the morning as part of the national holiday that encourages outdoors enthusiasts to give back to the community by maintaining the lands they use and enjoy. At 1 p.m., representatives from the U.S. Forest Service will hold a ribbon-cutting (or as the service’s Joe Smith calls it, a “fence-cutting”) to mark the official reopening of the South Loop Trail, which is being renamed the Mount Charleston National Recreation Trail. There will also be an event at the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway with educational and volunteer activities.
Birdandhike.com editor Jim Boone talked to Desert Companion about the trail’s and holiday’s significance to the local hiking community.
Why is this reopening such a big deal?
It’s a really popular trail that’s been closed since the Carpenter 1 fire and subsequent flooding in 2013. People have felt locked out of that land and are excited about getting back onto it. It opens up the hike to Charleston Peak, the highest summit in our area. Cathedral Rock was reopened already; it had been closed too. (The Griffith Peak trail will remain closed, but the Griffith Summit Trail will reopen.)
What’s your favorite hike at Mount Charleston?
To Rain Tree from Deer Creek road (aka “North Loop Trail”). Sometimes it’s nice to continue up to Mummy Spring, but they’re trying to keep people from going up to the waterfall. … I believe it’s spurred by habitat restoration, but it’s such a popular destination, people are going to continue going there. They might as well just maintain the trail and make it easy to find.
What do you recommend that people do for Public Lands Day?
I would say, go up to Mount Charleston and hike Cathedral Rock or Rain Tree. Both those are very nice hikes. There’s also the escarpment trail that starts at the new (Spring Mountains) Visitors Center. It’s three miles or so. It’s got a little steep up and down, but that part is paved, so it’s really accessible. It’s still going to be warm this weekend, so take extra water and have a great day enjoying our public lands.