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Fracture Ridge Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Sloan Canyon NCA
Fracture Ridge
Fracture Ridge Trail
Shadow Canyon Trailhead; paved East Anthem Trail

Overview

The Fracture Ridge Route is a fairly strenuous hike in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area that climbs onto the crest of the North McCullough Range and provides grand views of the Las Vegas Valley and out over vast wildlands of southern Nevada and western Arizona. Paved access to the trailhead makes this an easy getaway from town into the black, volcanic mountains that rim the south edge of Las Vegas. These mountains seem to catch a lot of rain, making the Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation fairly robust and diverse.

Note that the BLM thinks we should not be allowed to use this route, and this hike is now considered to follow an illegal off-trail route.

Link to map.

Fracture Ridge Trail
On paved East Anthem Trail, aim for small building

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe with no unusual hazards. Be careful at the summit, as the eastern scarp is quite steep.

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 short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

paved East Anthem Trail
Note small building on right

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Sloan Canyon NCA, but it is accessed from urban neighborhoods in the Anthem area of Henderson, as described for the Shadow Canyon Trailhead.

The Hike

From the Shadow Canyon Trailhead, (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the hike starts running southeast on the paved Anthem East Trail in a well landscaped gully bordered by houses. At a small cinder-block building atop a retention dam (Wpt. 04), the hike follows the BLM 404 (Black Mountain) Trail on a dirt foot path around the back of the retention basin.

paved East Anthem Trail
Atop the retention basin

At about the middle of the top edge of the retention basin (Wpt. 06), the Black Mountain Trail turns right and heads into the wildlands. The trail climbs onto a low ridge and follows the ridgeline up to the southeast. Eventually the grade eases and the trail drops gradually into a broad saddle and a trail junction (Wpt. 07). Here, the Black Mountain Trail continues east on the ridgeline while the BLM 402 (Connector) Trail turns southwest and drops off the south side of the ridge.

The hike follows the Connector Trail south across a broad valley to another trail junction (Wpt 08), this time with the BLM 403 (Park Peak Loop) Trail. The hike now follows the Park Peak Loop Trail to a saddle (Wpt. 09) on the ridgeline to the south. For details of getting to this point, follow the links to descriptions of the BLM 402, BLM 403, and BLM 404 trails.

paved East Anthem Trail
Black Mountain Trail sign

From the saddle on the ridgeline just east of Park Peak (Wpt. 09), this hike becomes illegal as it turns east to climb Fracture Ridge. There is no trail from the saddle, but farther ahead, hikers will find the old Fracture Ridge use-trail. When coming back down, please stay on the ridgeline all the way back to this saddle (Wpt. 09) rather than following what is left of the old use-trail straight down the hillside, as the old route will cause excessive hillside erosion and further BLM enforcement.

Continuing up, the ridge eventually narrows and steepens (Wpt. 33). Here the use-trail disappears and reappears among black boulders on the ridgeline (Class 2), but a plethora of cairns keep hikers on the narrow ridge. Eventually the use-trail crests onto the summit, and a faint use-trail (Wpt. 35) leads tantalizingly south along the crest of the range. A few more steps eastward lead to the summit (Wpt. 38).

Fracture Ridge
Heading towards initial steep section

Views from the summit are grand and sweeping. Mt. Charleston and Red Rock Canyon can be seen in the distance beyond the urban Las Vegas area. The steep summit slopes of Black Mountain beg an off-trail assault on that summit, and the broad ridge to the south draws hikers on a faint trail leading along the crest of the McCullough Range. To the east, the Eldorado Valley and mountains stretch forever into Arizona.

When ready, return to the trailhead by following your footprints in the dust back to the saddle (Wpt. 09) near Park Peak. Descend the Park Peak Trail to the trail junction at the bottom of the ridge (Wpt. 08), then as an alternative ending, consider using the Park Peak Loop Trail that runs along a broad ridge and reconnects with the main trail at the cinder-block building (Wpt. 04) atop the retention basin dam.

fracture ridge
Hikers on initial steep section
Fracture Ridge
Gentle slope at base of Black Mountain Ridge
Fracture Ridge
Black Mountain Trail at Fracture Ridge Trail (Wpt. 07)
Fracture Ridge
Descending into broad valley between Black and Fracture ridges
Fracture Ridge
Approaching climb onto Fracture Ridge
Fracture Ridge
Blue Diamond Cholla along trail
Fracture Ridge
Open, gentle slopes
Fracture Ridge
Open, rock-strewn slopes
Fracture Ridge
Starting up the steep, rocky ridge
Fracture Ridge
Hikers on steep, rocky ridge
Fracture Ridge
Hikers on steep, rocky ridge
Fracture Ridge
Blue Diamond Cholla on steep, rocky ridge
Fracture Ridge
Mt. Charleston and Las Vegas (view NW from steep, rocky ridge)
Fracture Ridge
Summit (view E)
Fracture Ridge
Black Mountain (view N from summit)
Fracture Ridge
Mt. Charleston and Las Vegas (view NW from summit)
Fracture Ridge
North McCullough Range (view S from summit)
Fracture Ridge
Eldorado Valley and Arizona (view E from summit)
Fracture Ridge
Cliffs below summit and Eldorado Valley (view E from summit)
Fracture Ridge
Summit register

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances 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 Trailhead 673133 3979357 2,966 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Trail Junction 673277 3979000 2,976 0.26 0.26 GPS
03 Trail Junction 673415 3978839 3,021 0.14 0.40 GPS
04 Trail Junction 673476 3978746 3,052 0.10 0.50 GPS
05 Trail Junction 673582 3978631 3,086 0.10 0.60 GPS
06 Top of Retention Basin 673680 3978654 3,055 0.07 0.67 GPS
07 Trail Junction 674316 3978158 3,398 0.68 1.35 GPS
08 Trail Junction 674396 3977485 3,419 0.58 1.93 GPS
09 Saddle 674494 3977047 3,677 0.62 2.55 GPS
33 Rocky Ridge Line 675917 3976960 4,438 0.98 3.53 GPS
35 Trail Junction 676485 3976882 4,891 0.40 3.93 GPS
38 Summit 676505 3976890 4,907 0.02 3.95 GPS
01 Trailhead 673133 3979357 2,966 3.95 7.90 Yes

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140127

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