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Mary Jane Falls Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Spring Mountains (Mount Charleston), Kyle Canyon

 
Mary Jane Falls
Mary Jane Falls Trailhead (view NW)

Overview

The Mary Jane Falls Trail is fairly strenuous, climbing almost 1,100 feet in 1.6 miles. The trail starts in the bottom of Kyle Canyon, which at this point is deep, heavily forested, and surrounded by beautiful gray limestone cliffs. In the first 0.7 miles, the trail climbs 450 feet, then turns right into a side canyon and climbs another 650 feet to the falls in the remaining 0.9 mile. The falls are seasonal; the best flows occur during spring when the snow is melting. A cave beyond the falls adds interest to the hike and a good overview of the area.

In 2011, the trail was heavily damaged by irresponsible hikers cutting the switchbacks and making the actual trail difficult to follow and dangerous in places. The trail crew fixed the switchbacks, but please stay on trail to protect it and the environment.

Link to trail map or trail junction map.

Mary Jane Falls
Trail low in the canyon (view NW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this trail is surprisingly strenuous, so take it easy at this elevation if you've just come up from the lowlands. There are places along the trail where a slip would result in injury, so be careful and watch your kids carefully. Watch for ice if you hike up here in the winter or early spring.

At the base of the switchbacks, many people miss the sign where the trail turns right off the old campground road. Pay attention and watch for the sign!

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Although this hike is fairly short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Mary Jane Falls
Note sign at base of switchbacks (view W)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Kyle Canyon up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, about 1 hour northwest of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to the Spring Mountains Visitor Center, then continue up the road to the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead.

Mary Jane Falls
Pay attention -- this is where people get lost

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the clearly marked trail runs northwest up Kyle Canyon on an old road for 0.72 miles. Along here, the trail passes through a forest of ponderosa pine, white fir, rocky mountain maple, quaking aspens, and mountain mahogany. The understory is open with a few wax currents, composite shrubs, grasses, thistles, and a few other forbs.

In the bottom of the canyon, the trail runs on an old road that once gave access to a campground. Years ago, the campground was washed out in a big flashflood, and for safety reasons, never was rebuilt. In places, evidence of old campsites can still be seen.

Mary Jane Falls Trail
Hiker above switchbacks (view northwest)

Towards the top of the Kyle Canyon, the Mary Jane Falls Trail jogs to the right at a fork in the trail (Wpt. 02) where the old road continues straight (see trail junction map). A small brown sign with the word "trail" and an arrow pointing right indicates the Mary Jane Falls Trail. The road continues up the canyon as the beginning of the Big Falls Route.

When the Mary Jane Falls Trail leaves the old campground road, it jogs right into the trees. The fork in the trail is also indicated with large rocks and a sign, but many people accidentally continue up the old road and miss the turn in the Mary Jane Falls Trail. The rocks indicating the turn look like a water-bar (of which there are many along the trail), so watch for the sign or follow a GPS device.

Mary Jane Falls
Base of MJ Falls with humans and ice (view N)

Within 100 feet of leaving the old road (Wpt. 03), the Mary Jane Falls Trail cuts sharply back to the right, runs northeast, and starts up a long (0.63 miles) series of switchbacks heading for the base of the gray limestone wall (Wpt. 04) that can be seen far above. The limestone wall forms the east side of the side canyon harboring Mary Jane Falls.

From the base of the limestone headwall (Wpt. 04), the trail runs north for 0.27 miles to the base of the falls (Wpt. 05), which are located in the back of the canyon. Parts of the trail along here are heavily damaged, so be careful. Some of the stone stairs are loose. The vegetation at the falls is mostly white fir and ponderosa pine with a few bristlecone pines and limber pines mixed in, plus some wax current and a few grasses and herbs.

Mount Charleston Area, Kyle Canyon, Mary Jane Falls
Cave beyond Mary Jane Falls (view NW)

Far overhead, springs produce water that cascades over the cliffs and down the falls. There are two caves at the base of the falls with water dripping across the entrance. There is another interesting cave about 400 ft farther out the trail past the falls. This cave has some flowstone, broken cave curtains, and tiny stalactites.

Please stay on the trail and don't cut the switchbacks. This damages the trail and the vegetation, and makes things worse for everyone else.

To get back to the trailhead, retrace your steps.

Mary Jane Falls
Mary Jane Falls Trailhead (view west in 2002)
Mary Jane Falls
Start of the trail (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail follows old campground road (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail eventually narrows (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail in mid-canyon (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail in upper canyon (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail low in the switchbacks (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail in the middle switchbacks (view SE)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail in the upper switchbacks (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail in the upper switchbacks (view SE)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail above switchback at base of headwall (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail above switchback at base of headwall (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Hiker approaching base of falls (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Hikers on steep, stone stairs (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Hikers at base of Mary Jane Falls (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Base of Mary Jane Falls (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Base of Mary Jane Falls (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Base of Mary Jane Falls (view N)
Mary Jane Falls
Hikers at the base of the falls (view W)
Mary Jane Falls
Hikers resting on log at base of falls (view SW)
Mary Jane Falls
Mary Jane Falls (view straight up)
Mary Jane Falls
Trail to the cave (view SW)
Mary Jane Falls
View south across Kyle Canyon
Mary Jane Falls
Note folded geology across Kyle Canyon (view S)
Mary Jane Falls
Entrance to Mary Jane Cave (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Inside Mary Jane Cave (view SE)
Mary Jane Falls
At back of Mary Jane Cave (view SE)
Mary Jane Falls
Flowstone at back of Mary Jane Cave (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Inside Mary Jane Cave (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
Inside Mary Jane Cave (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls
MJ Falls (view NE from cave entrance)
Mary Jane Falls
MJ Falls (view NE from cave entrance)
Mary Jane Falls
MJ Falls (view NE from trail to cave)
Mary Jane Falls
Kyle Canyon (view SE from trail to cave)
Mary Jane Falls Mary Jane Falls
Mary Jane Falls Mary Jane Falls
Mary Jane Falls Trail
Hikers low on the Mary Jane Falls Trail (view NW)
Mary Jane Falls Trail
Ascending switchbacks back when the trail was new (view NW)

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

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Mary Jane Falls Trailhead 620226 4014221 7,817 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Big Falls Junction 619453 4014946 8,124 0.72 0.72 GPS
03 Base of Switchbacks 619430 4014974 8,248 0.02 0.74 GPS
04 Base of Headwall 619507 4015191 8,518 0.63 1.37 GPS
05 Mary Jane Falls 619389 4015546 8,890 0.27 1.64 Yes
06 Cave 619312 4015476 8,738 0.08 1.72 GPS

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120613

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