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Hiking Las Vegas Blog
A few years ago I and others realized there was a great need to find routes in Calico Basin.Why? Since most of these routes are east facing and none of them reach high elevations, they would be the first routes to be free of snow and ice. Also, most hikers prefer hiking in Red Rock than Lake Mead.
Many of these routes are scrambling hikes, so you need to wait at least 24 hours after it rains and even longer if snow is melting. Normally it does not take long for snow to melt in the Calico Basin area. However, you must be careful of rock breaking. You could take a nasty fall if a hand hold or foot hold breaks.
Here's a partial list of hikes in the Calico Basin/Kraft Mtn. area:
Calico Tank Peak East Face route
Calico Tank Peak Red and White route
Turtlehead Jr./Red Cap Double Slot route
Calico Hills Loop
Calico Hills Traverse
Kraft Mtn Loop
Kraft Mtn. Up and Across
Kraft Mtn. Up and Over
Kraft Mtn. East route
Kraft Mtn. West route
Gray Cap Peak
All of these hikes are relatively short and most have lots of scrambling. Since all of these hike start in Calico Basin there's no entrance fee and no driving the Scenic Loop!!!
Calico Basin/Kraft Mtn is a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip.
How to get there: The trailhead is the same as Windy Peak, the Backside, which is off of Blue Diamond Highway.
Follow the wide trail up to the ridge. Instead of heading north toward Windy Peak, head south (right) and follow a path along the limestone ridge for about two miles. The path is well cairned, though faint in parts.
The last 0.5 mile is on standstone and mostly class 2. The peak comes in and out of view as you make your way to the summit boulder. The class 4 climb is near the tree and to the left of the obvious crack.
Distance: 5 miles - up and back
Elevation gain: ~1,500 feet
Time: 2 to 3 hours - up and back
Class: 4 (final climb onto the boulder)
Notes: There are two summits, but only the class 4 summit boulder has a sign in book. The other summit is class 2. The summit boulder has an anchor for the down-climb. Bring 40 feet of webbing. The webbing is double allowing the last person to use the webbing as he/she down climbs and then pull it.
This is a scenic hike as seen in the video below.
What's it like to hike with the 52 Peak Club? Since I created the club, it's very hard for me to know. Luckily, I shot a documentary over an eight month period with Amber Cavazos. She started as a new hiker with the 52 Peak Club and finished eight months later with a celebration on her final peak.
As you will hear in the video Amber was not an athlete and never thought she would be climbing mountains. None of the footage was staged or rehearsed. I hope this short documentary answers some of your questions about hiking with The 52 Peak Club. I hope you will join and get to have the type of experience Amber did.
More info about the 52 Peak Club here.
It's cold. The nighttime temps in Red Rock are below freezing. Water will freeze at night and might still be ice during daylight hours. It depends on how much sun the route gets. Deep canyons will not get much sun. Routes that have high southern walls blocking them will not get sun and could have ice. The hike to Oak Creek Overlook is a good example. It's less than 20 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Luckily, there's not much water on the route unless it rains or snows.
Even very good hikers can slip on ice. The ice can be tricky to see. You might only fall on your butt, however it could be much worse. The video below recounts Jason's story. Please watch it. Jason is fine now and leads hikes for the 52 Peak Club. Jason recovered quickly because he was in great shape, young, and only weighs around 130 pounds. His accident occurred in 2012.
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