Whether you’re a weekend warrior, seasoned camper, wildlife-watcher or dog-lover, we’ve got the perfect hike just for you
White Rock Loop
Red Rock National Conservation Area
36° 9’37.31”N, 115°29’53.38”W
White Rock is the most popular trail at Red Rock for runners, and the shaded northern half of the loop has cool mornings well into summer.
A treadmill? Pshaw. The street? For suckers. Thanks to gorgeous places on the edge of town like Red Rock, the place to run is on the trail. White Rock Loop will push you harder than any elliptical, but the six-mile path will also reward you with a wooded green canyon, a stark red desert, and wildlife ranging from mountain bluebirds to bighorn sheep. If you gas out, there’s no shortage of beautiful places to stop along the way to refill your lungs with clean, fresh air.
Pro tip: Run the trail clockwise from Willow Springs. Going that direction, the uphill portion of the trail comes first, is shorter, and is more scenic, while the downhill finish provides a long cruise home.
Getting there: Take the Red Rock Scenic Loop for about seven miles, then take the Willow Springs turnoff and park in the lot on the right side of the road.
Clark County 215 at the Lone Mountain exit
Short but steep, the run to the top of Lone Mountain is only 2/3 mile, but it gains over 700 feet of elevation. Run up the trail to build your lungs. Run down the trail to build your strength. For a full-body workout, scramble straight to the top up the east face.
Get your summertime trail running fix by heading up to Mt. Charleston. The surface on Trail Canyon is forgiving, but the terrain is not. The trail starts at nearly 8,000 feet, and climbs another 1,500 feet in two miles, where the truly ambitious can continue up the North Loop Trail.
Sloan Canyon Petroglyphs
Sloan Canyon NCA
The Native Americans who called Sloan Canyon home kept themselves pretty busy, leaving their mark on the dark rocks that line the walls of the canyon. In a section of trail just a tenth of a mile long, researchers have counted more than 1,000 petroglyphs, consisting of a fascinating variety of symbols, drawings, and works of art. Though the petroglyphs have lasted for hundreds of years, they are still fragile, and should not be touched. Even the oils on our fingers can slowly remove this irreplaceable piece of history.
Treasure hunt: This drawing room had an adjoining kitchen. Be on the lookout for rocks with a smooth, concave top. These were formed by years of grinding as the natives prepared their meals.
Getting there: The closest trailhead requires a long drive down a bumpy power line road. An alternate trailhead can be found on the southern edge of Anthem.
Valley of Fire
Even before air conditioning, the allure of Valley of Fire was too great to resist. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps used local sandstone to build three small cabins for early visitors to the park. The accommodations were Spartan, but windows had a five-star view.
Valley of Fire
Once a main road, this dirt track is largely grown over. Keen eyes can spot old car parts and roadside trash dating back to the very beginning of automotive travel. Please remember that these artifacts are a part of our shared history, and should be left in place for future generations to enjoy.
Put that doggy backpack to good use with this long climb to a 3,000-year-old bristlecone pine.
It’s pretty amazing to stand next to something that was alive before the founding of Rome. It’s a fact that will probably be lost on your dog, but Fido will enjoy the six-mile journey all the same. Mt. Charleston’s North Loop Trail is wide and well-maintained, making it easy to keep your dog on the leash without having him underfoot. Along the way, there are sweeping vistas of the open deserts north of Vegas, including the Nevada National Security Site. A short detour beyond the Raintree can put you and your dog atop Fletcher Peak. Be warned, Mt. Charleston is mainly limestone, which can be hard on a dog’s pads. Check them regularly during the hike, and bring those goofy dog shoes just in case.
Added Bonus: An easy 0.3 miles beyond the Raintree is Mummy Spring, a reliable source of fresh water for you and your dog. Refill here for your hike back down the hill.
Getting there: From Las Vegas, head north on US 95, then left onto Kyle Canyon Road (Highway 157). Turn right onto Deer Creek Road (Highway 158), and park at the trailhead just past Hilltop Campground.
Anthem Park Peak
What starts as a paved, neighborhood trail climbs south into the largely untouched foothills of Black Mountain. The 402 Trail to Anthem Park Peak has nearly continuous views of the city, and the trail surface is pretty easy on a dog’s feet. From the peak, continue clockwise to make a big, scenic loop.
McCullough Hills Trails
On the edges of Henderson, where the hills had been torn apart by fat-tired trucks and ATVs, there is now a complex of gorgeously built multi-use trails. Bring your dog along for a jog, a bike ride, or a casual hike on some of the nicest paths Clark County has to offer.
Red Rock NCA
From the Vegas Valley, Mt. Wilson’s profile stands like a fortress against the setting sun. It calls to the intrepid, to those who point and exclaim, “There! I want to stand up there!” The journey to Mt. Wilson starts at family-friendly First Creek, but this 11-mile romp leaves kids and picnic baskets far behind, and 3,500 feet below. Bring plenty of high-energy food, more water than you need, and start early. Beware, even the “standard route” forces hikers through dense brush and over craggy rocks. On alternate routes, the difficulty soars. But the payoff, looking back over the precipitous drop to Red Rock below and Las Vegas beyond, makes the long day worth it.
Pro tip: Don’t tell anyone, but there is a much easier path from the west that starts at the end of Saltgrass Road in Lovell Canyon. It’s not as fun, though.
Getting there: From either Blue Diamond Rd. or Charleston Blvd., take Highway 159 to the First Creek trailhead.
Potosi is Mt. Charleston’s overlooked and seldom-hiked little brother. If you want 360-degree views that extend from Lake Mead to Death Valley, and you don’t want to share the summit with, well, anyone, then Potosi is for you.
This hike is scary as hell. While it won‘t necessarily bust your lungs, it will definitely test your nerve. Named because its jagged profile resembles a rooster’s comb, hikers pick their way atop the ridgeline, facing down sheer drops on either side, to get to a spectacular view of Kyle Canyon.
Lake Mead NRA
Probably the longest unpaved accessible trail in Clark County, Railroad Tunnels makes a rewarding day for hikers of any ability.
Eighty-five years ago, in an effort get supplies from Boulder City to the Hoover Dam construction project, grizzled men with jackhammers and dynamite leveled the hillsides and laid down train tracks, creating five tunnels along the way. The trains no longer run and the tracks have long been removed, but thanks to the efforts of the Rails-to-Trails initiative, what remains is three-plus miles of beautifully graded trail suitable for bikes, strollers and wheelchairs. The whole trail provides beautiful vistas of Lake Mead, and the tunnels are downright fun. Broad and flat, the trail is as obvious as a freeway, making it virtually impossible to get lost.
Treasure hunt: Visit the trail in the early morning or evening for a chance to see bighorn sheep. Later in the evening, bats come and go from the tunnels in search of their nightly meal.
Getting there: Take US-93 through Boulder City toward Hoover Dam, and turn left onto Lakeshore Road. Just past the Alan Bible Visitor Center is the small parking lot and trailhead.
Clark County Wetlands Park
East Las Vegas
36° 6’2.99”N, 115° 1’21.36”W
For an accessible adventure that’s really different, check out the Wetlands Park. Miles of trail, paved and unpaved, wind through tall reeds, skirting past a dozen ponds and a flowing wash. For migrating birds, this oasis is a must-stop. Bring your binoculars.
36° 8’46.61”N, 115°25’9.77”W
Granting visitors access to a fragile meadow and a natural spring, the boardwalk at Red Springs is a great example of the BLM’s mission to allow access to areas while simultaneously protecting them. The fully accessible path brings visitors right to the base of the red rocks that give the area its name.
Backpackers and peak-baggers
Desert National Wildlife Refuge
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge contains more than 2,000 square miles of protected land. From Hayford Peak, backpackers enjoy unspoiled views of what the West looked like before civilization left its mark. To break up the ascent to the peak, travel to Hidden Forest, which is about six miles of steady climbing from the trailhead, and bed down in the restored cabin for the night. In the morning, fill your Camelbak with spring water (piped right to the cabin) and head uphill to Hayford Peak. For seasoned backpackers, the hike from Hidden Forest to Hayford isn’t too difficult, but going from there all the way back to the trailhead can seem interminable. Why not camp a second night?
Pro tip: Hidden Forest’s reliable water draws crowds of winged creatures great and small. Late afternoon hummingbirds are wonderful. Daytime flies and nighttime moths, not so much. If you’re going to sleep out, be sure to bring at least a bivy.
Getting there: Take US-95 north to Corn Creek Road. At the end of the road, turn left onto Alamo Road, then right onto Hidden Forest Road to its end. High-clearance vehicles recommended.
Boulder Wash is an excellent adventure for beginning backpackers. The hike follows an enormous wash down a gentle descent for nearly seven miles, concluding at a secluded cove on the shore of Lake Mead’s upper basin. Navigation is easy, and the hike is long enough to really prepare you for harder journeys.
Camping by a natural spring is a rare pleasure in Southern Nevada. Enjoy the cool quiet of a mountain evening by Mummy Spring, and get your rest. The next morning, grab your day pack and make the demanding slog up infamous scree slopes to the top of Mummy Mountain.
Make no mistake, Bonanza Peak is a worthwhile destination all its own. It’s over 10,000 feet, it has unobstructed views to the north, and if you love switchbacks, boy does it have those. But the real reason people take the drive to Cold Creek is for the horses. The bajada north of Mt. Charleston plays host to literally hundreds of wild horses, and they can be see ambling about in family groups right along the road. Extinct in the Americas since the Pleistocene, horses have flourished since being reintroduced by Spanish conquistadors dating to Columbus. As an added treat, the ponds around Cold Creek are an excellent place to go bird-watching.
Bonus: There is not enough forage in these deserts to support the population of horses, so the BLM occasionally rounds them up, nurses them back to health, trains them, and makes them available for adoption.
Getting There: Take US 95 north out of town and turn left at the Southern Desert Correction Center onto Cold Creek Road. Take Cold Creek Road all the way to the end.
La Madre Spring
Red Rock Canyon NCA
Starting from the trailhead, this hike passes through gravelly desert dominated by manzanita and yerba santa. As the trail climbs, it becomes lined with single-leaf pinyon, Nevada’s state tree. At the spring, everything changes as riparian flora and fauna, including tree frogs, take the stage.
White Owl Canyon
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
A great adventure for the budding naturalists in your family.
Starting at Lake Mead’s 33 Hole overlook, head down a steep hill and follow a trail across a small bay that, in the lake’s halcyon days, was underwater. At about 1/10 mile, the trail bends left and heads up a broad wash. Slowly and steadily, the wash’s walls come together, squeezing down to a narrow slot that is White Owl Canyon. When you come to the fork (about mile from the trailhead), bear left. Hike quietly and keep your eyes up for the eponymous owls. Eventually, the canyon crosses under Lakeshore Drive via two large pipes. Venture through as far as you like, then turn around and enjoy the canyon again.
Treasure hunt: Throughout White Owl Canyon, the nooks and crannies are filled with owl pellets and pack rat middens. Bring some gloves, and let your kids pick through the debris for bones!
Getting there: Take Lakeshore Road from Henderson to the 33 Hole Scenic Overlook. Park in the first lot on your left. At the far end of the lot is the trailhead.
White Dome Loop
Valley of Fire
White Dome kicks off with a gorgeous descent through a rainbow of rocks. At hill’s bottom, the remains of an old movie set bring Hollywood history to life. Around the corner is a fun slot canyon, followed by impressive views with arches and windows galore as the trail loops its way home.
Red Rock Canyon NCA
There’s a reason this is the most popular hike in Red Rock. Calico Tank is a great place to introduce children to scrambling, challenging but not dangerous. The changing scenery ensures kids don’t get bored, and the ephemeral tank at the end of the trail is a surprisingly satisfying payoff.