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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
5 Super Tough Hikes in the USA
How tough are you?
If you’re tired of the same easy trails and long for a greater sense of adventure then we’ve got a treat for you – five of the toughest hikes in the SW.
These trails will give you a real test, just be sure you’re physically up to the challenge, have suitable gear (including the ten essentials) and are determined to take mother nature on.
Try these hikes and find out how tough you really are:
1. Mummy Head to Toe
It's a traverse across Mummy Mtn in Mt. Charleston, which is near Las Vegas, NV. During the adventure you will stand on four different peaks.
Distance: 8.5 miles
Elevation gain: 4,129 feet
Elevation of peaks: Mummy’s Forehead 11,040, Mummy’s Chin 11,037 feet, Mummy’s Tummy 11,542 feet, Mummy’s Toe 10,925 feet
Time: all day
What makes it so tough? No trail, four peaks and traversing around 11,000 feet for most of the day. (There's a five peak variation)
Inside info: Watch for loose rock. A car shuttle is required.
2. Norman Clyde
One of the toughest peaks in the Sierra and named after the most prolific mountaineer of the Sierra.
Distance: 13 miles – round trip
Elevation gain: 6,160 feet
Elevation peak: 13,920 feet
Time: Long day or backpack
What makes it so tough? It's a steep climb at high elevation and it's cold even in August. The route ascends the North Face.
Inside info: Attempt in late August/early Sept. Bring gloves and rap gear.
3. Four Peak Scramble in Red Rock Canyon
This is possibly the toughest rock scramble in the country! With virtually no trail it's all scrambling to four very different peaks: Juniper, Gunsight Notch, Rainbow and Mt. Wilson. Each of these peaks is a good hike; all four in one day is a killer hike.
Distance: 9 miles – round trip
Elevation gain: 7,160 feet
Elevation peak: Juniper 6,109 feet, Gunsight Notch 6,200 feet, Rainbow 6,800 feet, Mt. Wilson 7,070 feet
Time: A very long day
What makes it so tough? Massive elevation loss after Juniper and Rainbow peaks. The toughest peak (Mt Wilson) is the last peak of the day!
Inside Info: Cache water before attempting this hike.
4. Mt. Sill
Another Sierra Peak with possibly the best vista in the Sierra! This is a very tough climb. Check out the stats below.
Distance: 20 miles – round trip
Elevation gain: 6,300 feet;
Elevation peak: 14,136 feet
Time: Long day or backpack
What makes it so tough? 20 miles and 6,300 feet in gain. Do I need to say more?
Inside info: Most camp at Sam Mack Meadows. This breaks up the climb. It's a trail hike to Sam Mack Meadows.
5. Badwater to Telescope Peak
Many hardcore hikers consider this the toughest hike in the country. You start at sea level and ascend to 11,049 feet! That's a lot of elevation gain. The hike is called Badwater to Telescope, but most start at Shorty's Well. It cuts out about four miles of walking across the desert in the middle of the night.
Distance: 21 miles (from Shorty’s Well to Mahogany Flats Trailhead)
Elevation gain: 11,300 feet
Elevation peak: 11,049 feet
Time: 12 to 16 hours
What makes it so tough? Gee, do you really need me to tell you? Also, logistically this is not an easy hike. Most hikers have a car at Mahogany Flats trailhead to make the hike shorter; otherwise, you have to retrace your steps descending 11,000 feet.
Inside info: Do this hike in October and start around 2 am. Bring a gps. You want to intersect the official trail at a saddle to avoid a terrible scree field.
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