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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
Nevada is not only popular for its vast expanse of desert landscape but also for the hidden surprises of Mother Nature that’s waiting to be discovered. Desert hiking, however, needs more preparation and carrying the right gear can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.
This is why you must have these essential items in your backpack before heading out to hike.
Things You Must Carry on a Nevada Desert Hike
1. Enough of water: Even though this sounds obvious, many people ignore the need of carrying water in large quantities and end up suffering later. Nevada desert is indeed arid and receives negligible precipitation, so it is very likely to assume that water supply would be scarce.
Hydration bladders are the best way to keep hydrated. Sipping water from time to time will keep you hydrated and make the extreme conditions bearable.
2. Sun block: Again, this is one of the essentials every hiker must have in their backpack, but don’t due to their own negligence. Desert hike will expose you to the harshness of the sun for extended periods of time that may cause serious damage to your skin.
Always go for sweat-proof and higher SPF level sunscreens that will act as a shield to keep your skin safe. Remember, Sunburn is not just an EDM concert; they’re a real thing and can be very nasty!
3. Hats and sunglasses: Admit it or not, most of us forget to pack these two essential items before leaving on a trip. Not having sunglasses will make you regret the whole hike as you’ll be facing the sun glaring into your eyes most of the time.
A wide-brimmed hat comes in handy for extra sun protection for your face and neck, so be sure to include this in your backpack before leaving.
4. High-energy food: One thing that you must carry during every hike is high protein, energy-rich food that can replenish you with the lost calories and other nutrients. Snacks are excellent things to eat on a hike because they contain plenty of healthy carbs, protein, and calories to keep you energized.
While walking in the Nevada desert, you’ll need the energy to persevere through difficult stretches of terrain. Munching on snacks will make traversing through this land a bit easier.
5. Map/GPS: Ever heard about mirages? While the appearance of a Mirage may not entice you with visions of an oasis and fair maidens, it can certainly make you get lost in the desert. This is why you always keep a map and a GPS, particularly when hiking in the desert.
The last thing anyone would want to experience is to lose their trail and end up in the outskirts with nothing but stretches of desert in sight. A printed map and a GPS are must have things in your backpack. Oh! Don’t forget to tell someone that you’re going hiking in the desert.
Also, a cell phone can come in handy if their is an emergency. More and more remote areas now have cell phone service.
Things to Include in Your Survival Kit
Hiking is no doubt very enjoyable, but in the wilderness, things can take a turn for the worse in a matter of minutes. This is where an emergency survival kit comes in handy and may as well pull you out of a life-threatening situation.
This kit generally contains items that are not one-size-fits-all; meaning an excursion in the desert would require things that are much different than a hike in a cold area. So before you head out, make sure you’ve got these things in your survival kit:
• A police type whistle that can act as a vital signaling device
• A multipurpose, sturdy two-bladed knife
• A trusty magnetic compass to keep you on the route
• A small size signal mirror
• Magnifying lens
• At least a dozen water purification tablets
• Adhesive tape for first-aid, repair of clothing, and the removal of cactus thorns
• An energy source if possible
• Flint and steel for the purpose of starting a fire
• At least a dozen pack of matches that are waterproof
• A solid, low energy flashlight
The Beauty of the Nevada Desert
The majestic desert of Nevada boasts of little creeks, rock formations that are a thousand years old, and native wildflowers that bloom once in every ten years or so. To discover all this destination has to offer, you’ve got to be prepared.
So, don’t ignore the essential items we discussed in this guide and get ready to have the best time of your life. Happy hiking!
Hamblin Mtn. is a local favorite hike around Lake Mead. It has a fantastic view of Lake Mead at the summit. Being less than 60 minutes (driving time) from the city of Las Vegas, NV, it seems like a million miles away.
Below is my video review of the hike. It's a moderate hike that follows a wash and then a path to the summit. Most hikers can do this hike.
The 52 Peak Club offers this hike frequently to members during the winter months.
One word of warning: Do NOT do this hike when it's hot. There's no shade or water along the route.
Northshore Peak is one of the best peaks around Las Vegas. It's located near Lake Mead, the largest man-made lake in the country. This is a fairly easy hike with great views. Watch my video review below and let me know what your think.
Hiking is a great way to exercise, connect with nature and relax away from city life. But when we journey out into the wilderness, there are several etiquette tips that must be considered on the trails. Here are a few.
Share the Trail
If you are descending a hill and you see another hiker coming up, be kind and move to the side. It takes more energy to ascend a trail than to descend, so keep this in mind no matter how much of a hurry you might be in. Also, if you are hiking in a group, don’t clog the trail by walking side by side. Instead, hike in a single file line so others can easily maneuver around your group. Also, keep your group size manageable. 50+ hikers in a group is too many.
Leave No Trace
This is a rule for venturing out into the wilderness at any point. Granola wrappers, water bottles or any other type of waste should be disposed of properly, not left on a trail. This even goes for gum wrappers and apple cores etc. While they might be small, it’s disrespectful to other hikers, animals and nature in general. If there isn’t a garbage can around, stick your wrappers and papers in your pocket or your backpack, like the Carhartt Elements hybrid backpack, and discard when you reach a trash bin. Most importantly, leave the trail and surrounding forests as good as, or better than, when you arrived.
We understand. Sometimes there isn’t a bathroom. Sometimes you don’t want to carry your dog’s poop for miles and miles. But you cannot ever leave fecal matter on or near a trail. It is disrespectful and can attract animals which can endanger other hikers. Be sure you walk 200 paces away from any trail, campsite or body of water to bury human or animal waste.
Don’t Destroy Cairns
We know that some people might not appreciate man-made objects in nature, but destroying cairns, the pyramid statues of rocks, is not the answer. These formations are used as guides for other hikers at times, too. Also, don’t add rocks to an already formed cairn. Simply take a photo and keep moving. You can create one of your own later.
Mind the Horses
You are likely to pass horses and bikers on the trails at some point. As a hiker and the slower of the three, allow them to pass as easily as possible. There’s no need to hog the trails. We can’t think of many things worse than getting a hoof to the face while hiking your favorite trail.
Stay on the Trail
Getting lost in the wilderness shouldn’t be at the top of your bucket list. Unless you are an experienced hiker and navigator, stay on the trail.
Leave the Tech Alone
We understand your desire to take photos of the stunning views you encounter. We even understand having a phone in case of an emergency, but answering a phone call or listening to music while on the trails is just rude. Think of the animals in the woods as well as the other hikers. So keep your phone on silent and use it only for picture taking. If battery life is an issue, turn your phone off. Other hikers will thank you later.
Now that you have all the rules of the trail, don’t forget to outfit yourself in the best hiking gear, like the stuff sold by trusted brands like Carhartt! Have a great hiking trip, and pass these tips along to your fellow hikers.
I have created a new video review of another hike that I know you will like.
This time I am reviewing the Fortification Hill hike near Lake Mead.
As you will see in the video the vistas from the summit of Fortification Hill are some of the best in Southern Nevada.
This is a fairly easy hike and 99% trail/path.
Take a look at the two minute video and if you have any questions or comments, leave them below.
Good News. I have started to do video reviews of hikes around Las Vegas. These videos are short, normally around two minutes, and tell you everything you need to know about the hike.
I post these videos on my YouTube Channel. Since I am planning to do one a week, I have created a Playlist to make it easier for you to find these videos.
(I have over 300 videos!)
Here's the link to the Playlist.
Enjoy the videos and if you want me to review any hike, let me know by making a comment below.
It's winter, it's cold outside. That's one of the surest bets in Vegas!
Below are 10 tips how to make your hike more enjoyable during cold weather.
Red Rock Canyon stands just 20 miles west of Las Vegas, NV. What most people don't realize is there are three separate hiking areas. Let's look at them.
Calico Basin/Red Spring
Calico Basin/Red Springs is just north of what most people call Red Rock Canyon.
Access is off of SR 159 about two miles before Red Rock Canyon.
The hikes are short and relatively easy. The established trails are few and not well marked. Some of the popular peaks in this area include: Calico Tank Peak, Kraft Mtn, Gray Cap Peak and Turtlehead Jr. Peak.
There is no fee to enter and hike in this area.
It is crowded, especially during the weekend.
There is a pavilion area with tables, chairs and restrooms.
Red Rock Canyon - Scenic Loop
This is the area most people visit at Red Rock.
Access is off of SR 159.
The hikes range from easy to very difficult. There are 19 established trails (BLM) and the only peak the BLM recognizes is Turtlehead Peak.
There are many challenging peaks in this area including: Bridge Mtn., Juniper Peak, Rainbow Peak, White Rock Hills Peak, Ice Box Peak, Pine Creek Peak, Oak Peak, Terrace Canyon Peak, Crabby Appleton Peak, Bridge Point, Mt. Wilson (highest sandstone peak in Red Rock), and Mescalito Peak.
There is a fee to drive on the 13 mile Scenic Loop road:
$7 per vehicle, per day;
$30 Red Rock Annual Pass
$80 America the Beautiful Annual Pass - good for all national parks.
There is a Visitor Center just beyond the fee booth.
It is crowded, especially during weekend. Try to arrive before 11 am to avoid waiting to get through the fee both.
South Red Rock Canyon
This is the least known part of Red Rock Canyon.
Access is off of Blue Diamond Road aka SR 160.
Most of the hikes are difficult. There are very few established trails.
There are many challenging peaks in this area including: Black Velvet Peak, East Peak, Hidden Peak, Global Peak, Windy Peak, and The Stealth Range.
There is no fee to enter and hike in this area.
There are no amenities.
It is not crowded.
This past September members of the Las Vegas 52 Peak Hiking Club climbed Mt. Russell (14,086 feet) in the Sierra. It stands just north of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states. We took the Rockwell variation, which is recommended.
I created a video of our hike. Watch it below.
Mt. Baldwin soars 12,615 feet into the air and looks down some 8,000 feet onto US 95. This past September (2016), Kathy and I did a dayhike to the summit. The hike is 15 miles, round trip, and about 5,200 feet of elevation gain.
The hike begins at Convict Lake, a very popular spot. The lake got its name from a group of escape convicts that broke out of a Carson City prison and were capture near the lake in 1871.
Side Note: Mt. Morrison, a peak just south of Convict Lake, got its name when Robert Morrison was killed by one of the convicts. There's a movie loosely based on the incident called: The Secret of Convict Lake.
And We Are Off
We got started around 6 am. Our headlamps illuminated our way through the darkness. We followed the Convict Lake trail about three miles to a washed out bridge. This marked where we crossed the creek. Crossing Convict Creek can be tricky depending on the amount of water flowing. When we crossed, the water was fairly low making for an easy crossing. Early in the year the water flow is greater making it dangerous to cross.
On to Mildred Lake
The trail on the other side of the creek was surprisingly good and easy to follow. I had read reports that the trail needed repair. We arrived at Mildred Lake a little before 9.00 am. It was cold as the high ridges blocked the sun. Mildred Lake is one of the most scenic lakes I have seen. For the next mile the trail is flat and the views are outstanding.
And Now the Work Begins
Once the creek that feeds Mildred lake turns west, we headed SE up a hiker's path and started gaining elevation. We soon came to an area that looked more like Death Valley than the Sierra. I have never seen an area like this in the Sierra.
Where Are We?
The path disappears for a bit and Mt. Baldwin is not obvious as there are several peaks above us. We eventually see Bright Dot Lake and we knew we were back on route.
A major landmark on this route is a calcite mine that sits at 12,000 feet. The path to the mine is steep and loose. It's a small mine that one could miss, except for numerous crystals on the ground.
The mine was active on a limited basis back in the 30's, but it was never fully developed.
Now the Hard Part.
From the mine to the summit is about 600 feet of very loose scree. I headed off to the south (right) and found it to be slightly better footing, but still loose. A little before noon we were standing at the summit of Mt. Baldwin.
There's a hiker's path that makes for an easy descent via the scree slope. We were back to the mine in about 20 minutes. It took us over an hour from the mine to the summit! The rest of the descent was easy, though long. We arrived at the trailhead around 5 pm.
This is a very scenic route with great views from the summit.
There's virtually no scrambling or climbing on this route.
I recommend doing this hike, but one time will probably be enough for most hikers.
Check out the video of the hike:
Branch Whitney is the author of Hiking Las Vegas and creator of the 52 Peak Club where members hike to the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas, NV