The kids are out of school. Friends are visiting from out of town. You’re itching to get outdoors for your summer vacation. There’s just one problem: it’ll be 100 degrees by 10 a.m. at Red Rock.
Where can you take the family for some much-needed recreation? And what do you need to know before heading out in the heat?
Alan Gegax, an organizer for the Vegas Hikers Meetup group, wrote a story about hot-weather hikes in the June issue of Desert Companion.
“Lake Mead is definitely out unless you’re actively in the water," he said. "Anywhere on the Colorado River is just too low. Even Red Rock, for most of the day, is too hot to hike. There is just not enough shade and it is blazing hot out there.”
Trails around Lake Mead have to be closed during the summer because too many people try to hike there and need to be rescued, he added. If you really want to hike in some of the lower elevation areas, Gegax advises that you go early in the morning, bring a lot of water and stick to canyons like Ice Box or Pine Creek in Red Rock. But even with those precautions in place, he still discourages venturing into such areas during extreme heat.
“When it’s really hot, you really want to get up towards Mt. Charleston. That’s about the only place that you can escape the heat,” he said.
Besides hiking, Gegax recommends using waterways as a way to cool off and enjoy the incredible scenery.
“If you have a canoe or kayak, you can get down to the lower Colorado River," he said, "and that water, no matter what time of year, is very cold, and that can keep you refreshed when you’re out there paddling.”
Mike White, an avid outdoorsman, wrote "Afoot & Afield Reno & Tahoe," "Backpacking Nevada," "Top Trails Lake Tahoe" and many other books about outdoor recreation.
He noted that while heat is not as dangerous in Northern Nevada as it is in Southern Nevada, hikers still need to be aware of it and be prepared.
“You can still get in trouble up here in the middle of the summer if you’re not taking the proper precautions with packing plenty of water, or hiking in the hot part of the day in exposed country,” White said.
With that in mind, he said most of the trails around the Reno area have forest shade and access to water.
“One of the –- if not the -- most popular trail in our area, is the trail to Mt. Rose, which is the third highest peak in the Tahoe Basin,” White said.
He added that there are dozens of other trails in and around Lake Tahoe that people can enjoy. Whichever one you chose, White reminds people to use common sense and not damage the environment.
He says whatever you bring in you must bring out, don't cut your own trail and never build a fire outside a designated fire ring. He reminds everyone of the old backpacking adage: “Take only photographs and leave only footprints."
Stefanie Jay is a television host, former Fox 5 anchor and outdoor enthusiast who recently moved from Las Vegas to Ely.
She said there plenty of great places to hike in Eastern Nevada that are not nearly as crowded as trails in Southern Nevada, and are only between five and six hours from Las Vegas and Reno.
“It is definitely a drive, but the great thing is you have multiple hikes you can do over multiple days, and you can camp out or stay in one of the tiny little motels that are there in Baker,” Jay said.
For more advanced hikers, she recommends Wheeler Peak Summit Trail. She said the last mile is tough, but the view at the end is worth it.
Jay also recommends Cave Lake State Park. She said it is full of great trails for all levels, like the Cave Springs Loop, which is perfect for those hiking with pets. For a more challenging hike, she suggests trying the Cave Overlook Loop.
Her two biggest pieces of advice for hiking in the area are to watch for abandoned mines, which sometimes aren't marked, and to bring more water than you think you need.
“It is always better to bring too much and not use it than be out there in the middle of nowhere and be in deep trouble and not have enough water,” she said.
From Desert Companion: Off the Beaten Path: Remember getting away from it all?
From Desert Companion: Trail Mix: Eating Out: Hike to Eat, Eat to Hike
From Desert Companion: 15 Great Hikes (Practically) in Your Own Backyard
Alan Gegax, organizer, Vegas Hikers Meetup group; Mike White, outdoor writer; Stefanie Jay, outdoor enthusiast