Take a Hike
By Kelly Travis
Photos by Bob Travis
If you didn’t know it by now, Southern Nevada offers some of the Southwest’s most diverse landscapes. From the mountains of Mt. Charleston to the desert treks over sculpted rocks in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, there is something for everyone. You can opt to take it easy with hikes on a relaxed walk-through trail or you can challenge yourself with a route that requires scrambling and climbing. The one thing everyone can agree on, though, is that Las Vegas hikes offer the perfect opportunity to glimpse some of the most stunning views of the city you’ll ever find.
Here are five local hikes that vary in terrain and difficulty. As a reminder, because Las Vegas is entering the hotter months of the year, be sure to take the proper precautions by packing plenty of water and getting out there early in the morning before it gets too hot. For the trails inside the Red Rock Canyon scenic loop, you’ll need to make reservations in advance.
Please see Publisher's Note
This is a great 2.2 mile out and back trail located inside the Red Rock loop. You’ll start off walking on a gravel trail and soon begin the journey of climbing rocks of all shapes and sizes. Considered a moderately challenging route, you can expect quite a bit of rock scrambling as well as a couple of unstable areas where it can get slippery. If you go, wear good shoes and carry water. Once you get near the top, you’ll find a large pool of water and a beautiful view of Las Vegas and the surrounding mountains.
The wonderful thing about this trail is you can access it outside of the Red Rock loop, off of Calico Basin Rd. This fairly easy 3 mile round trip is popular for hiking and trail running. You’ll walk beside popular climbing spots and beautiful red colored rock. If you’re up for it, the Calico Basin trail is great when combined with a hike up Guardian Angel Canyon to a spectacular viewpoint.
Guardian Angel Pass
The Guardian Angel Trail starts at the Red Spring picnic area in Calico Basin, also located off of Calico Basin Rd. You’ll head out on this 3.2 mile loop trail in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction – if you go counterclockwise, you’ll get the climb out of the way early. The hike includes a lot of bouldering up and down, as well as some scrambling. For the experienced hiker, it’s a lot of fun and you’re rewarded with a flat rock at the top to rest and take in the beautiful view of the valley!
Kraft Mountain Loop
This is another one that starts within Calico Basin, with access at the end of Sandstone Drive. It’s considered a moderate to challenging hike due to the scrambling and climbing, and if you choose to take it, you’ll see plenty of hikers, horseback riders, and trail runners. Along the way, you’ll experience many different types of terrain, including scree and sand. Just like Guardian Angel Pass, you have the option to go clockwise or counterclockwise. If you choose counterclockwise, you’ll come down the steep hill, clockwise you go up it. Choose your own adventure!
Gold Strike Hot Springs
You can access this 7-mile, out and back trail from inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The trail drops down through Gold Strike Canyon and heads all the way up to the Colorado River. It’s different than most trails on this list since, on top of boulder scrambling, it incorporates a series of 8 rope climbs that are well beyond beginner level. Plan for about 3-4 hours of hiking and scrambling time in each direction, or a full-day adventure if you plan to take a soak in the hot springs. Wear good hiking boots with a good grip for this one and bring a partner. You’ll get a great view of the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
Hike Like a Pro...
This lightweight and compact satellite communicator is your go-to connection for maintaining off-the-grid contact. It’s a palm-sized communicator for adventures where size and weight matter. Its unique features include sending interactive SOS alerts globally at any time, two-way messaging, location tracking and sharing, and connectivity to the Earthmate® app, weather updates, and any other Garmin devices. amazon.com
Petzl Actik Core Headlamp
This rechargeable, multi-beam headlamp offers 450 lumens of power to light the way during dynamic outdoor activities like running, hiking, and backpacking. It comes with the Core USB-rechargeable battery (charge time via USB port: 3 hrs.) but is also compatible with 3 AAA/LR03 batteries (not included) without the need for an adapter. The lamp has 2 beam patterns (flood or mixed) and several white brightness levels; single-button adjustment allows for quick and easy lighting selection. Red lighting preserves night vision and the reflective headband provides low-light visibility. amazon.com
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Hiking poles are commonly used on the trail these days. With an ergonomic grip angle for maximum wrist comfort, a 100% natural cork grip, a fusion comfort strap, and double FlickLock® adjustability, these trekking poles define ٤-season, on-trail versatility and comfort. Interchangeable carbide tech tips are included. The 4-season flex tips, with trekking baskets, are snow basket compatible. The pair weigh 1 lb. 2 oz and collapse to 27” for storage. amazon.com
Supercharge the utility of your mobile devices by installing the Gaia GPS app. Just be sure to put your device on airplane mode to conserve battery life. Working in tandem with your GPS, you’ll have the luxury of trail data and a variety of map types at your fingertips. The app offers hike planning tools that can be dragged onto the mobile app for use in the field. As an added benefit, the app also provides wildfire, weather, and snow alerts.. gaiagps.com
Altra Lone Peak 6
Enhance your trail-running and hiking experience with this men’s updated shoe as you traverse new and favorite trails. Improved features include: updated StoneGuard™, which offers more protection from rocks underfoot while using less material, Quick-Dry Air Mesh uppers with laser-cut holes allow quick drainage after creek crossings, FootShape™ toe boxes allow the toes to relax and spread out naturally, Altra EGO™ midsoles provide a responsive yet soft ride, a balanced Cushioning™ platform places heels and forefeet the same distance from the ground, which encourages low-impact landings, and MaxTrac™ outsoles feature a multidirectional lug pattern for grippy traction on a variety of terrain. rei.com
America the Beautiful Pass
The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. The pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle, at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children, aged 15 or under, are admitted free. A one year pass provides thousands of opportunities. Passes ship without names on them and can be shared with family or friends; each pass can be signed by two main pass owners. usparkpass.com
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System
Simply fill up the included water pouches at a lake or stream, screw the hollow-fiber filter onto the pouch and squeeze the pouch to push the water through the filter into your mouth. No pills, no pumps, and no wait time. Features include: the Squeeze Filter, two 32 fl. oz. pouches, a cleaning coupling, and additional accessories for gravity and incline use. The hollow-fiber membrane filter removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli. It also removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidia. Collapsible pouches are made from durable Mylar foil, can be reused hundreds of times, and fit the threads on most bottles of water you buy at a grocery store. amazon.com
Gregory Zulu 30 Men’s Pack
Large enough for supplies for two on sunup-to-sundown adventures, the generously sized, yet agile, men’s pack can even work for nights in the wild when the gear list is shorter than usual. It is designed with a FreeFloat Dynamic Suspension system with an independent, floating 3D lower back comfort cradle, which balances heavy loads with ease. It has a fully adjustable, torso-length OpenAir ventilated back panel, which offers a customizable fit for breathability. A U-zip panel provides easy access to all your gear, regardless of location. A fitted rain cover in a zippered pocket on the underside of the top lid keeps your gear dry even when the forecast says otherwise. According to size, this pack weighs between 2 lbs. 9.9 oz. - 2 lbs. 10.7 oz. The Jade 28 (ladies) version of this pack weighs between 2 lbs. 8.8 oz. - 2 lbs. 9 oz. rei.com