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Gass Peak Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Desert National Wildlife Range
Gass Peak
gass peak
Gass Peak Trailhead (behind the truck; view SW).

Overview

Gass Peak is the highest summit in the Las Vegas Range, the long ridge that forms the north edge of the Las Vegas Valley. This hike is fairly stout. The route follows a series of side-ridges on the northeast side of the mountain to the summit ridge, and then follows the summit ridge to the peak. Views from the summit provide a striking contrast: the the north lies a vast and glorious wilderness, and the south lies a vast urban area.

Link to map.

For general information on camping, regulations, other issues, and the natural history of the Wildlife Refuge, see the Desert National Wildlife Range -- Area Overview page.

Gass Peak Route
Human at the fork in the road (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike. Depending on road conditions, the trailhead might be accessible with a 2WD-HC vehicle, but inquire locally or use a 4WD vehicle just to be sure. There are some rocks to scramble over on the summit ridge, but if hikers can get that far, they shouldn't have any trouble.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is fairly short, it is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

This is a wildlife refuge, so pay extra attention to respecting the land. Please, don't bother the bighorn sheep. They have a hard enough time making a living in these desert lands; they don't need extra stress from people hanging around the spring.

Gass Peak Route
Toe of the ridge (view W)
Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located on the Desert National Wildlife Range, about 2.5 hours north of town.

From town, drive out to Corn Creek Field Station and continue east 50 yards to a T-intersection. Turn right onto Mormon Well Road, driving south and then east up the bajada for 4.35 miles to Gass Peak Road. Gass Peak Road cuts off to the south (right) just before Mormon Well Road gets to the mountains. Turn right onto Gass Peak Road and follow it south and then east for 8.1 miles to Gass Spring Road. Watch for a "Service Road Only" sign on the south (right) side of the road. Park here; this is the trailhead.

gass peak
High on the ridge looking back down (view E)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs southwest on the service road heading towards Gass Spring. At a fork in the road (Wpt. 02) before getting to the spring, the route turns left and continues to the end of the road (missing the spring). The road ends, for no apparent reason, at the base of a side ridge (Wpt. 03) that serves as a route up the mountain.

gass peak
Gass Peak summit (view NW towards trailhead)

While hiking out the service road, notice the other road (the right fork) that heads out farther to the west and eventually climbs onto the steep side of the ridge that the route runs up. That road never gets all the way to the top of the ridge, but hikers should keep an eye on it as they might want to descend that way (Wpt. 04).

From the base of the side ridge, the route is obvious: it just runs up the ridge. Pay attention, however, so that on the way down you will remember which ridges you climbed. Especially keep track of where you get onto the summit ridge (Wpt. 05) so you know where to start down.

gass peak
Las Vegas Valley (view SE from the peak)

From the crest of the summit ridge (Wpt. 05), the route turns right and runs up the summit ridge to the southwest. After climbing a steep part to a little knob (Wpt. 6), the rest of the route is fairly easy.

Use-trails on the summit ridge can be followed, more or less, to the summit (Wpt. 7). Parts of the summit ridge are sharp and rocky, and dancing along the rocky crest on a knife-edge ridge is a bit airy, but the route is never more than 2nd-class. The views from the summit ridge and the summit are spectacular, especially the view off the north side into the Las Vegas Valley.

gass peak
Sunset behind communication towers (view W)

To get down, follow your footprints down the summit ridge and down the side ridges. As you get lower, consider cutting straight down the side of the ridge (Wpt. 04) to connect with with the right fork of the Gass Spring Service Road. The upper parts of this road are steep and slippery, and it might be harder than just walking off-trail down the ridge, but this old road runs past Gass Spring and makes for a bit of a loop.

gass peak
During mid-summer, we in Las Vegas can sometimes see a bright reflection from the big solar panels atop the peak
Gass Spring
Gass Spring (view SE from road) -- consider stopping by the spring on the way down

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27, UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point to Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 665069 4033558 4,910 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Fork in the Road 664764 4032948 4,965 0.44 0.44 GPS
03 Base of Ridge 664940 4032401 5,130 0.36 0.80 GPS
04 Possible Descent 664552 4031907 5,500 0.40 1.20 GPS
05 Summit Ridge 664492 4030879 6,060 0.74 1.94 GPS
06 Little Knob 664280 4030303 6,365 0.43 2.37 GPS
07 Summit 663256 4029727 6,943 0.77 3.14 GPS
08 End of Road on Descent 664562 4032226 5,220  --  -- GPS
09 Gass Spring 664583 4032513 5,030  --  -- Map

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
Thanks for coming to visit!
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140225

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