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South McCullough Wilderness Area
Pine Spring Corral
Southern Nevada Wilderness Areas, Hiking the Wilderness Areas
Pine Spring
Pine Spring
Parking below Pine Spring (view east)


Pine Spring is a point of interest just outside the southeast corner of the South McCullough Wilderness Area that demonstrates a bit of the ranching history of this area. While the grazing allotment has been closed down, the site remains an interesting historic site, the troughs still hold water, and feral cows still roam the area. So far as I know, the historic structures are not protected, so visit before they are gone.

This site is not a destination; that is, nobody would drive all the way to see it. Rather, this site complements a day out in a jeep when people need to get out, stretch their legs, and enjoy a bit of wild solitude, grand scenery, and perhaps see a few songbirds.

Link to area map.

Pine Spring
Old trough and water tank (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe area, but watch for sharp things (barbed-wire fencing) and boards with nails.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This site borders the South McCullough Wilderness Area, so pay particular attention to respecting the land. This site is off the beaten path where nobody will find you, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials and don't expect cell phones to work.

Pine Spring
All that is left of Pine Spring (view W)

Getting to the Site

Pine Spring is located up in the McCullough Range, about 1.5 hours southeast of Las Vegas, between Searchlight and Primm. Under the best of conditions, the access road does not require 4WD. I drove the sandy washes in 2WD, but with the comfort of knowing that I could shift into 4WD at any time.

From town, drive south on Highway 95 to Searchlight (Table 1, Site 0927). In downtown Searchlight, turn right onto Highway 164 (Joshua Tree Highway) and drive west for 8.2 miles to Wee Thump East Road (Site 1299).

Pine Spring
Trough at edge of wilderness area (view SW)

In at least a 2WD-HC vehicle, drive north on Wee Thump East Road for 4.5 miles to Wee Thump North Road (Site 1300). Turn left onto Wee Thump North Road and drive west for 1.1 miles to Wee Thump West Road (Site 1301). Pine Spring Road continues straight across the intersection to the west.

Drive west on Pine Spring Road for 1.5 miles to a fork (Site 1302). Stay right on Pine Spring Road and follow it to Pine Spring (Site 1304) at the end of the road. For most people, parking at the corral and walking the last 0.1 miles to the end of the road will be good enough.

Pine Spring
Human below dry trough (view S)

The Site

When driving up the road, visitors will pass the historic corral, and then 0.1 miles farther up the road, the spring and associated structures.

The corral was built largely using used railroad ties for fence posts. The ties probably were gathered after small railroads that served mining districts in the area went bankrupt or moved on (the railroads would take the metal rails, but leave the wooden cross ties). Old railroad ties are a common construction material used throughout the region, as seen at the Wee Thump Corral, corrals at the Walking Box Ranch, and even a ranch house at Corn Creek. The corrals area includes fencing, gates, a loading chute, water pipes, and a metal watering trough that still holds water.

Pine Spring

At the end of the road, the spring site includes broken water pipes, an empty water tank, and a metal watering trough that does not hold water. Up the gully above the water tank, a pipe drips a bit of water. Farther up the gully, an adit appears to have been dug, perhaps in an attempt to develop the spring, but it is mostly filled in now. Feral cattle still come to the site, evidenced by the environmental damage caused to the spring site and surrounding vegetation.

This area is at the transition between the Mojave Desert Scrub and Pinyon-Juniper Woodland habitat types (Upper Sonoran Life Zones). The area is thick with blackbrush, buckhorn cholla, pricklypear cactus, banana yucca, joshua trees, singleleaf pinyon pine, and utah juniper, a mix of lower- and higher-elevation species.

Pine Spring
Trough at Pine Spring (view W)
Pine Spring
Trough at Pine Spring (view S)
Pine Spring
Loading chute along Pine Spring Road (view W)
Pine Spring
Gate at entrance to the corral (view NE)
Pine Spring
Metal trough with water (view N)
Pine Spring
Trough with escape route so small animals don't drown
Pine Spring
Railroad-tie fence posts and wire fencing (view NE)
Pine Spring
Metal trough with water (view NE)

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

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0927 Hwy 95 at Hwy 164, Searchlight 688813 3926424 35.46519 114.91921 3,500 Yes
1299 Hwy 164 at Wee Thump East Rd 676340 3930808 35.50699 115.05564 3,960 GPS
1300 Wee Thump East Rd at Wee Thump North Rd 674061 3937257 35.56551 115.07937 4,375 GPS
1301 Wee Thump West Rd at Wee Thump North Rd 672453 3937265 35.56586 115.09710 4,560 GPS
1302 Pine Spring Rd at Fork 670165 3937004 35.56391 115.12239 4,913 GPS
1304 Pine Spring 667173 3937981 35.57322 115.15519 5,429 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121019

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