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It’s the dog days of summer – and there is still plenty of time to enjoy the outdoors. KNPR's State of Nevada talked about great spots to visit in Nevada, and we might dip into California, Arizona, and Utah, too with some outdoor experts. We also received phone calls from listeners who wanted to share their favorite places to hike.
Heidi Kyser: There is so much appeal about it. I really like – the lingo for it now is a ‘media fast.’ I like being totally unplugged, off the grid, being self-sufficient.
For me, there is something about the moving meditation, being in motion, being forced to be alert to what’s going on around me. In yoga, we call it one-pointed concentration, which means you are very singularly focused on each foot fall, anything that might obstruct your path or be a danger. It’s a level of focus that brings a sense of peace and calm.
Mike White: For me, for a lack of a better term, I just find it to be a spiritual experience. We’re so immersed in man-made life here in the cities or even in the suburbs. Everywhere you go there’s a creation of man in one form or another. There are countless bombardments from media and stimuli and everything like that. Being able to get out into nature and really have an interchange with the natural world, I just think it’s so refreshing and rejuvenating, just a totally different pace of life.
On Las Vegas hiking:
Deborah Wall: What’s great about Las Vegas if you come here, no matter what time of year it is, even when it's 107 degrees, you can drive three or four hours and you can be up at 10,000 feet like up at Cedar Breaks National Monument. So you can basically any time of year you can find a great place to go. Even Death Valley there’s a great hike you can go in the summer called Telescope Peak.
On hiking with dogs:
Kimberly Reinhart: The Park Service has taken the stance that [dogs and trails don’t mix]. So, they’ve actually closed off to allowing dogs on trails. But my point of view is if pet owners are responsible, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Trails are made for hiking boots. Most trails are graded and if you have your dog on the trail and on a leash, your dog is not going to cause damage to the environment. If you clean up after your pet when you’re out there, you’re not going to be changing the biological component with any degradation or composting out there.
On hiking etiquette:
Heidi Kyser: Those going downhill are supposed to yield to those going uphill. I find there are a lot of people who don’t know this.
Deborah Wall: People cutting corners and not staying on the trail. It is really important to stay on the trail and to teach your kids to stay on the trail. [It creates] what I call ‘social trails’ and there’s also the fragile cryptobiotic soil that will sometimes take 100 years for one footprint to grow back.
Mike White: You always want to yield to the uphill hiker because obviously, it is always easier to regain your momentum going downhill than uphill.
On hiking safety:
Mike White: I know that people often get in over their heads. They take on something a little more challenging than they were expecting. If you’re an inexperienced hiker, certainly hooking up with a group or other individuals who are more experienced they can help show you the ropes and get you started goes a long way to preventing injuries or death.
Deborah Wall: My biggest concern [when it comes to flash floods] is people, especially that come from the East Coast, and come to a place like Zion. They’re there with their family. They’re in this nice little stream on the Virgin River and they’re playing around and it’s perfectly sunny above them. But what happens usually what happens every afternoon at the Markagunt Plateau at Cedar Breaks the thunderstorms come in drop some rain and if they’re really heavy within maybe 15 to 20 minutes from those bursts, it can come down and the water can be as tall as 12 feet from where you were just sitting.
In a lot of places, there is no safe exit. Some places you can crawl up on the side but if you’re some place like the Zion Narrows or Keyhole Canyon, you can’t get out.
I think the biggest mistake people do before they go hiking is they don’t stop at the visitor’s center. Always stop at the visitor’s center. Talk to the backcountry desk. Find out the weather report, because you can’t do it by looking up in the sky.
Heidi Kyser: One thing that I often see is people out hiking arid desert without enough water. Another fairly simple point of caution is to make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen, maybe a hat, good shoes. There are some really basic things you can do to stay safe that I frequently don't see people doing.
Trails to Try:
Mike White: I just did this trail the other day. I actually do it about once a year every year since I moved [to Reno] and that's the trail up Mt. Rose. It's about five miles up and five miles back, so 10 miles total. It's a pretty challenging hike but you get beautiful wildflowers along the way, a waterfall and then a very expansive view from the summit that includes all of Lake Tahoe.
Malayna Joy of NV89 says: “The outdoor scene is amazing here in Reno. In winter, too, with incredible skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. I love the Steamboat Ditch Trail. It’s high above the Truckee River and the city, so you get incredible views of Reno. The hike is extremely gentle, wide - and good for dogs, kids, and even strollers.”
Caty Roske of Nevada Public Radio’s development staff says: I love walking my dogs at the Pittman Wash Trail or biking down it when it’s not a billion degrees outside. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in the city. I like the Icebox Canyon Trail at Red Rock, and also Valley of Fire.”
Deborah Wall: I'll tell you kind of an interesting one. It's not really a hike but it's a trail. It's the National Water Trail. That's runs from the Hoover Dam about 30 miles. Most people kayak it about 12 miles to Willow Beach.
The Las Vegas Wash. I really enjoy walking along there. Especially early mornings there are a lot of birds. I think it’s about an eight-mile loop.
Clint from Reno: I recently took a group of boys on a hike on the Hunter Creek Trail on the west side of Reno. It was really neat because it didn’t take you too long to get out of town. It is about a 2.5-mile aggressive climb but when you get past that climb you get up into the tree canopy and there is an amazing waterfall up there right now.
Kimberly Reinhart: My daughter’s favorite hike is up in Red Rock and it’s actually First Creek. It’s an easy trail for families to go to. It’s off the main drive so the access is easy in and easy out. You hike along kind of a flat level area and when you get to the end it drops down and there is this hidden pool and waterfall and it’s just a great surprise. So, for kids, there is a definite destination at the end. It’s a well-graded hike to follow. So, it’s great for dogs too.
Another area that is my favorite is up at Valley of Fire. There aren’t as many people there. The sand is really fine… so it is easy on the dogs’ paws but then there is some scrambling that you can do. Some dogs like to do that.
Deborah Wall: There are actually two [hot springs near Lake Mead]. One on the Nevada side and one on the Arizona side. The one on the Arizona side takes a little bit longer to get to. It’s about four miles from Hoover Dam. It’s near where the parking area is.
Right now, it’s closed. They do not want anybody in there until the fall because it is so dangerous [because of the heat].
It’s also one you want to go very early in the morning because it is very narrow, almost like a slot canyon that you sit in these hot springs.
The one on the Nevada side is called the Gold Strike Hot Springs and that is a little more difficult. You have to do a little bit of rock scrambling. That is really nice one too.
Dylan from Las Vegas: A really awesome path that is not the easiest to find but if you guys have heard of China Ranch and the date farm. You follow that path there and it leads you down the stream. There is a slot canyon. You walk through a mountain, where you’re looking 200 feet up… if you didn’t know it was there you probably wouldn’t be able to find it.
Wall: If you’re going to Pahrump, you take a left about 10 miles before you get to town. It’s the old Spanish Trail road. It’s about a half hour to China Ranch, which is a date farm. They grow dates there and there is a whole network of great trails there. It’s where the mostly underground Armargosa River actually comes up.
From Desert Companion: 15 Great Hikes (Practically) in Your Own Backyard