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Trail Canyon Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mount Charleston Area, Kyle Canyon

 
Trail Canyon TrailTrail Canyon Trail starts left of info sign (view N)

Overview

This is a very strenuous, 2-mile hike that runs up Trail Canyon for some 1,500 feet to a saddle beneath the toes of Mummy Mountain and an intersection with the North Loop Trail. Trail Canyon is deep and forested, so there is plenty of shade, but the trail is steep. It starts on an old jeep trail, then continues upward, eventually leveling a bit when switchbacks ease the grade near the top of the canyon.

Link to map.

Trail Canyon Trail
Trail Canyon Trail parallel to Echo Road (view N)

From the saddle, there are great views to the east down Kyle Canyon, but trees block most long-range views. This trail can be done alone or in combination with the North Loop Trail. At the trail intersection, hiking west leads to Mt. Charleston summit, and hiking east leads to the Raintree, Mummy Spring, and North Loop Trailhead along Deer Creek Road.

Shortly after passing the municipal water tank, the trail goes into the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area.

Trail Canyon Trail
New trail junction with original trail (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, this trail is pretty safe. The trail is strenuous, climbing 1,500 feet in 2 miles, so take it easy at this elevation if you've just come up from the desert because the air is thin up here at 8,000-ft elevation.

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

Trail Canyon Trail
Municipal water tank along trail (view north)

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 Kyle Canyon Road to the Trail Canyon Trailhead.

Trail Canyon Trail
Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area boundary sign

The Hike

From the trailhead at the north edge of the Trail Canyon Trailhead parking lot (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the trail runs northwest towards the left edge of the canyon. Following the cliffs, the trail parallels Echo Road for almost 200 yards, although the road is mostly out of sight when the shrubs have leaves.

Shortly, the trail connects with a gravel road that serves a municipal water tank (original trail) and continues uphill. In about 1/4-miles, the gravel road ends at the water tank, and the trail continues up the canyon on a steep old jeep road, which later turns into a clearly defined steep trail (Wpt. 02).

Trail Canyon Trail
Steep old road low in the canyon (view north)

Lower down, the trail passes beneath tall ponderosa pines and quaking aspen. This part of the trail also passes beneath Coxcomb Ridge, a series of towering limestone cliffs and peaks that form the east edge of Trail Canyon. Except for the trees, the vegetation is sparse, but there is a fair bit of mountain mahogany and wax currant. Higher up, white fir and bristlecone pine mix with the ponderosa pine.

Near the top of the canyon, the trail climbs a few less-steep switchbacks along the edge of an old fire that ran from here to the top of the ridge west of Mummy Mountain. It is interesting to see how much has grown back over the years, but it is equally interesting to see how much evidence remains of the fire that burned more than 50 years ago. Fire scars last a long time in these dry desert mountains, but nature is resilient.

Trail Canyon Trail
Gentle trail near the top of the canyon (view east)

Eventually, the trail cuts eastward at a gentle grade to Trail Canyon Saddle (Wpt. 03) on the north end of the Cockscomb Ridge. On the saddle, the Trail Canyon Trail ends where it intersects the North Loop Trail.

Rest here and enjoy the view. To the north are limestone cliffs (the toes and underbelly of Mummy Mountain), to the west is Mount Charleston, to the east is the desert below Kyle Canyon, and to the south is Cockscomb Ridge. A use-trail and bit of 2nd-class or 3rd-class scrambling lead to the top of Cockscomb Ridge.

Trail Canyon Trail
Trail sign at the Trail Canyon Saddle

After resting, head back down, continue west to Charleston Peak, or head northeast to the North Loop trailhead on Highway 158. If you go about 0.5 miles northwest up the trail towards Charleston Peak, you get to Cave Spring where there is a spring and an old watering trough that was carved from one big log. This is a popular campsite; people sleep above the watering trough on a cave-like ledge with a great view to the west. Technically, this campsite is illegal because it is too close to the water, but many people stay there.

To get back to the Trail Canyon trailhead, retrace your steps.

Trail Canyon Trail
Steep trail high in the canyon (view north)
trail canyon
Mummy's belly (view north from high in the canyon)
Trail Canyon Trail
Early morning start on Trail Canyon Trail (view N)
Trail Canyon Trail
Trail crosses the wash (view N)
Trail Canyon Trail
Trail on switchback below Trail Canyon Saddle (view NE)
Trail Canyon Trail
Hikers at Trail Canyon Saddle (view NW)
trail canyon
Trail Canyon Saddle beneath Mummy's Toes (view NE)
Trail Canyon Trail
Original Trail Canyon trailhead (view north; early 2012)

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 Trail Canyon Trailhead 620581 4014124 7,785 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 End of Old Road 620861 4015990 8,811 1.33 1.33 GPS
03 Saddle (North Loop Trail Junction) 621573 4016350 9,307 0.73 2.08 GPS

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120627

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