Las Vegas is renowned as one of the most popular destinations for people who love gambling. In fact, it only comes second after Macau as one of the greatest gambling cities in the world. However, what most people don’t realize is that Las Vegas is also a hiker’s paradise. The city is surrounded by various types of natural environments, from pine-forested mountains to deep flowing rivers, fantastic rock formations to water-filled canyons, and many more. Whether you are planning to go on a single-day hike with your friends or you intend to spend weeks in the wilderness, here are some of the best hiking trails that you can’t afford to miss out in Vegas.
Hunter Creek Trail
Running approximately 5.7 miles, the Hunter Creek Trail is an out and back trail, featuring a 30-foot waterfall, stunning landscapes and plenty of other attractions. If you are looking for a hike that will challenge your mind and body, then you should check out this trail. Access to the trailhead is quite easy. It’s important to note that there is little to no shade on this trail. Therefore, ensure you carry enough sunscreen to protect your skin against sunburns. What makes this trail a popular hiking destination among the locals, is its easy accessibility from the city. Also, it’s clearly marked, which means following it should not give you any problems. Its difficulty is rated moderate, due to the long and gradual elevation. The trail gets quite icy and slippery as you approach the top. Therefore, if you plan to hike it all the way, it’s highly advisable to wear a proper pair of hiking boots. It’s quite busy over the weekends. If you want to avoid crowds, you should hike it any day from Monday to Thursday, if your schedule allows it. But all in all, you will enjoy amazing scenery all the way. You will hear birds chirping and streams flowing from the base to the top.
Mount Rose Summit Trail
Located in the northern part of Lake Tahoe, the Mount Rose summit trail is an out and back trail, which is open all year round. The pass between Tahoe Meadows and Mount Rose is a popular outdoor destination for hiking, camping as well as various winter activities. With approximately 2,000 feet of elevation gain, the route to the summit is not as challenging as most people assume. The route to the summit is filled with flowing streams, a waterfall, as well as various types of wildflowers, especially during the warmer months. This hiking trail is quite popular during the high season, and it’s quite crowded during the sunny days. However, that doesn’t mean that you will not have a good time. You can access the trailhead from the parking lot, off Nevada Highway 431. It experiences lesser snow than other trails in this region, thus making it doable during winter, for hikers with proper hiking gear and capabilities. The trailhead parking area is open all year round, it has trash cans and washrooms, where you can refresh.
Valley of Fire State Park
If you are looking for a hiking trail that offers outstanding scenery, then you can never go wrong with this trail. It features natural rock arches, ancient petroglyphs, slot canyons, colorful stone hills, and ribbed sandstones. If you only have a single day in Las Vegas, then you can visit this park and tackle a few short hikes. And if you have a whole weekend to spare, you can tackle most of the hiking trails, explore some of the major sites and have a good time sleeping under the stars. Some of the most popular hikes in this trail include the Fire Wave Hike, Mouse’s Tanks Hike, White Dome Hike, Elephant Rock, Rainbow Vista, and Petrified Logs, just to name a few. The park is open all year round and it has plenty of well-equipped campsites, featuring shaded tables, plenty of potable water, and shaded tables. Make a stop at the Visitor Center to learn more about the history of this park.
Turtlehead Peak Trail
The Turtlehead Peak Trail is one of the best hiking trails in the Red Rock Canyon region. While it’s quite a tough hike, the rewards are worth the effort. Entry to the park is free. You should also note that this hike is quite popular during the summer. Therefore, it’s highly advisable to get in early, if you want to stay away from the crowds. If you manage to get to the top of the Red Rock Canyon peak, you will enjoy 360 degrees sweeping views of the city as well as the nearby La Madre Mountains. This trail is accessible throughout the year. However, summer temperatures are quite high, especially in Southern Nevada. And that’s why it’s highly advisable to start it early in the morning. Make sure you pass by the Visitor’s Centre and learn more about the wildlife and the geology of the area. They also have a decent gift shop, where you can purchase snacks, water, and hiking books.
Mount Charleston Hiking Trails
Located just outside Las Vegas and rising approximately 12,000 feet above sea level, Mount Charleston presents a unique and refreshing hiking challenge for people who love spending their summer in the wilderness. While the area has several trails, the two most popular ones are the Big Falls trail and the Mary Jane Falls trail. The Mary Jane Falls trail runs approximately 2.5 miles, featuring plenty of great views along the way. On the other hand, the Big Falls trail runs approximately 3.5 miles, where you will have to negotiate various boulders along the way. The Big Falls trail is more challenging than the Mary Jane Falls trail. It’s highly advisable to hike this mountain when it’s snow-free – and that’s is usually between May and October. June and September are the best months to go for this hiking adventure. Hiking to the peak of Mt. Charleston will take approximately 8 hours or more. Therefore, make sure you leave at sunrise to ensure you hit the peak before darkness engulfs the mountain.
Lake Mead Railway Trail
The Lake Mead Railway Trail is a 7.5-mile, out-and-back hike, which is easy to tackle, interesting and accessible to everyone, making it quite a popular hike in the area. It runs along the old railway trail, overlooking the beautiful Lake Mead. It will then take you through five rail tunnels, where you can capture some amazing photos. This trail is accessible from either end. However, if you want quick access to the tunnel, then you should start your trip off Highway 93 at the Alan Bible Visitor Center. From this point, you will then trek approximately one mile and come across the first tunnel. The trail has undergone plenty of recent improvements, making it usable by a wheelchair. It’s open to bikers, hikers, as well as leashed dogs. Therefore, if you love spending time outdoors and you are looking for a weekend plan, you should hit this trail and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Mead.
Clark County Wetlands Reserve Park
If you want to spend your weekend around Vegas and you don’t want to venture too far out in the wilderness, then you should check out the hiking trails in southeast Las Vegas. Wetlands cover most areas of this nature park while tall grasses surround the water bodies. Waterbirds can be seen quite often wading through the shallow waters. You might also come across beavers and turtles – if you are lucky. Rabbits and quail are also common, especially on the trail. There are numerous trails in this area. Popular trailheads include the Duck Creek Trailhead, Wetlands Neighborhood Park, Pabco Trailhead, Sunrise Trailhead, and Wells Trailhead, among others. Some trails are open to bikes and dogs while others are reserved for hiking only. Also, most of the trails have several access points. This park provides plenty of opportunities for photography, wildlife viewing and simply spending time outdoors. The park is open from sunrise to sunset. Hunting, swimming, boating, and fishing are not allowed in this park.
Calico Tanks Trail
The Calico Tanks Trail is arguably one of the most popular hikes in the Red Rock Canyon. It features spectacular scenery of orange, yellow and red sandstone formations, stone stairs and mountains towering above you. You might be forced to use your hands and feet to climb over some boulders. It’s ideal for all skill levels, making it a great outdoor excursion for families. Dogs are allowed on this trail, as long as they are leashed. Winters are extremely cold and the summers are dangerously hot. Therefore, make sure you bring plenty of water. Also, you should note that cell phone reception in the park is quite poor, which means you should carry an emergency beacon if you intend to spend more time in the area.
As you can see, Las Vegas is more than just a gambling city. It offers plenty of amazing hiking trails, where you can go alone or with your family and friends, and have a great time outdoors. From picturesque waterfalls to desert hikes, rolling red hills to dramatic canyons, Las Vegas presents a great opportunity for those who want to enjoy the great outdoors. Remember to carry your camera because the views are nothing short of amazing, beautiful and spectacular.