Location: Near Red Rock, outside of Las Vegas, Nevada
Time: Early Winter
Activity: Day Hike
Fossil Ridge day hike was a solo adventure that I did in Nevada the day after Christmas 2018. It was under 5 miles with a climb in elevation of under 1,000 feet. The hike was rated moderate. It was a gorgeous day, and a good way to try and work off some of the treats from the holiday. The location is near Red Rock, which to me is almost spiritual it is so beautiful, and a must do anytime I am near Vegas. Usually I am hiking on the opposite side of the road that runs through the area, and closer to the mountains and to Red Rock, but this perspective was very special as you have the full expanse of that view. The Fossil Ridge Loop day hike worked its way along the cliff of a canyon which was very interesting. The other thing I really liked about the hike was at times I felt like I was hiking through a cactus garden.
4 miles, 900’ elevation gain, 2 hour duration, rated Moderate
This area is a play land for Mountain Biking. It has terrain for all skill levels from Beginner to Expert. If you follow this trek outline on the map there are certainly portions that would be approaching that Expert level. That being said, it is also a hiking area, just be aware, of your surroundings and keep your eyes peeled, and your ears alert.
This short loop should be hiked counter clockwise as it is steeper with loose material. Going up is always easier especially on this type of footing than sliding down. The route encompasses multiple trails starting with BC, Snake Back, and Side Winder, on the backside it drops down on to Red Mountain Access Road. That is very boring, so my suggestion is get off on to a side trail at East Leg which is another rugged winding narrow trail that brings you back to the basin of trails at the trailhead.
The area and the terrain is very cool, the problem I have with it is there is a big communication network tower on the top with overhead power lines. The views of the surrounding desert and mountains is super, the only problem with the views is it also encompasses the urbanization down below being Boulder City. What I am always trying to do when ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ is get away from it all. The more wilderness the better. Off the backside is a great view of the strip. While that is still urbanization it is the Las Vegas Strip so, that is different.
If you think a small thing can’t make a big difference, try hiking with a pebble in your boot.
Thanks for joining me ’Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ above Boulder City checking out views of the famed Las Vegas Strip from the top. For more adventures in nature please do the following: LIKE, FOLLOW, COMMENT and SHARE. If you go to the above menu you will see plenty of wonderful spots that PBTA travels to throughout the West. If you go to SHOP APPARELyou will see Adventure Wear adorned with PBTA logo that also serves as the mantra for the healing you can receive from nature adventure.
This area is stunningly beautiful even from Red Rock Canyon Road the 159, but venturing on First Creek Canyon Trail gives you the time to really balance the scales between a busy life filled with all the noise of existing in this modern world to the peace and tranquillity that nature on a scale as grand as Red Rock Canyon can. Red Rock to me is almost spiritual. The multi colored rock face of these mountains jut up out of the desert like a cathedral of stone. As you approach for a better view you certainly get the impression that church is in session, ‘Pursing Balance Through Adventure’.
This hike has a dirt parking area off to the side on Red Rock Canyon Road and not far from the entrance to Red Rock. Most of the hike is easy and fairly flat, the trail is gravel and hard pack dirt going across the desert toward the mountains. As you approach the foothills it kicks into the moderate portion of this hike. The trail has some soft sand sections, but is mostly rocky with just the smallest amount of scrambling. 3/4 of the way toward the mountains is where there is a creek to the side of the trail. In December, which is not the rainy season, there were some pools of water, but mostly the creek and the waterfall were dry. The last portions of the First Creek Canyon Trail becomes more difficult to follow as is it rocky and hikers at this point seem to be doing their own thing and there are little trails and paths all over.
Hiking past this point jumps to HARD, with what looks like a lot of scrambling and the canyon becomes tighter and higher. This is a rock climbers haven and I saw two different partner climbers on what looks like a difficult face. If you were to continue hiking up the canyon it would finally lead to the peak of Mt. Wilson. This sounds intriguing to me, but I had only planned for the First Creek Canyon Trail. Another time perhaps…
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it” -William Shakespeare
Thanks for following me into this amazing canyon which epitomizes what this blog is all about ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure‘. You can’t come out of a place like this and not be awe struck, and feel that it hasn’t given you a bit of a reset. For more awe please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. You can find more fun experiences in nature by going to the Menu above showing the different locations that PBTA travels to. Each location is a separate website and thus needs to be followed independently. Did you not get what you wanted for Christmas? Like my hat? I have them for sale along with other top quality adventure gear at SHOP APPAREL.
If I have said this once, I have said this a million times, well… I have said this quite often, Red Rock is one of my favorite places, for me it is almost spiritual. Anyone that comes to Vegas and doesn’t at least drive through the scenic loop is a looser. Plus the longer you are away from the tables the less of a chance that Vegas will get their hands on the rest of your money.
This is my second time to enjoy Turtlehead Peak. The first time was with my sister years ago when I couldn’t find the trail that I was wanting to show her. So what they heck lets do this one. It was hard, it was strenuous, it was long, and it was awesome, well… except for the part that the scree leaves you with one step back for every three steps forward and that gave her a hernia. So, it is probably not a beginner type of hike.
I did this hike just before Thanksgiving. A couple in their thirties said they were tired, but they conquered the top. They continued that they never want to be on this mountain again. From now on they said they will stick to moderate hikes. But most folks on the trail seem to have enjoyed it especially the views from the top in both directions.
I was pushing my pace as I knew that I was racing the sun, after getting a late start, on one of the shorter days of the year. I got to the top after getting off trail just for a bit in 1.75 hours, spent about ten minutes at the top and then 1.5 down, arriving back to the parking lot at sundown.
It was chilly coming down and my hands were cold. There was remnants of the snow from the last week‘s storm on the backside of the mountain. When I arrived back at my car it said the temperature was 35. It certainly didn’t feel that cold, but perhaps I was super heated from the hike, that is other than my hands. But once back in town it was mid forties, since it was a low altitude.
The route starts out rather flat, but as you get closer it gets steeper until the trail is scratched out of a rocky hillside and in places the trail is difficult to follow and encompasses some rock scrambling. One saving grace is there are spray painted dots ever so often to let you know you are still on the trail. If you go some distance and don’t see a dot then you are probably not on the trail, but it appears from the looks of things there is more than one way to get to the top.
Thanks for joining me Peak Bagging Turtlehead at Red Rock Canyon while ”Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“. Please leave a quick COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE, and don’t forget to FOLLOW. Explore the many opportunities to stretch your legs, fill your lungs with air, get that heart beating a little quicker, and achieve some of those profound ah hah moments, by following in the footsteps of PBTA’s in the above menu of places to go. Keep in mind that each of the locations is a separate website and thus needs to be FOLLOWED independently. Need clothing for hot weather, or cold? Checkout SHOP APPAREL for many of your adventure needs, it’s not only first rate merch with the PBTA Logo it also helps support this endeavor.
This hike has so many wonderful facets to it. I loved this hike and highly recommend it.
First of all to me Red Rock Canyon is a must do for anyone going to Vegas. There are more than bright lights, and slot machines to Las Vegas and if you have never at least driven the Red Rock Loop then you are really missing out. Once you have enjoyed that thrilling scenery than the next steps are to get out and do some hiking, work up to exploring, and finally add a peak or two. To me Red Rock is almost spiritual, that is how profound of an experience it is.
The landscape changes through out the hike, from the rugged, wild and harsh beauty of the Red Rock and it’s unforgiving terrain, to a place with brush, vegetation and even some Juniper and Pine trees.
La Madre Springs is a hike all in itself and most people on this trail only know about that. The spring adds vegetation and is what makes this part of Red Rock different and so interesting, a “treasured island in a sea of desert“. During the hike you will cross the stream a few times and there are places where there are even reeds, something that you don’t see everyday in a desert environment. There are wonderful vistas through out the adventure opening up to views of the surrounding hills and mountains. This really is a stupendous hike.
The trail starts out big broad double track road which gets rougher as you go, and finally switches to trail. It is well maintained and well traveled up to the La Madre Springs and then becomes a little more difficult to follow on the way up to a little water fall. Past the water fall your travels will take you through ever increasingly steep and overgrown trail that is not always easy to follow, but certainly worth the effort as you will get to checkout something very special, that being an Old Miner’s Cabin and if you seek further adventure than up the steep hill from there is an old abandon mine and even more wondrous vistas that the additional height avails to you.
The rustic ruins of the Old Miner’s Cabin will spur thoughts of a life of solitude, a simpler time, certainly back breaking work, but with the romance of possibility… the chance of gold and silver in them thar hills, and thus the opportunity for untold fortune and incredible wealth. An existence in this place would be filled with hardship of the elements- blistering, unrelenting heat in the Summer, and snow and ice during a portion of the winter. In fact the area got snow the night after my hike. As legend goes this cabin was used not only by prospectors, but cowboys and even outlaws.
There are a few different faint trails heading up above the cabin. I was able to find the abandon old mine, and there was a yellow flag marking the spot. It’s not that the flag is easy to see from any distance, but once you do then you know that you have discovered the opening to the mine. I suggest that you have a head lamp if you care to break the rules, that are clearly marked Do Not Enter, and explore this unsafe, dangerous place. If you do throw caution to the wind then you will work your way into a dark, dank mine. Most of the tunnel is wide open, but another portion you will need to get down on all fours and even drag yourself through a tight spot. The mine is not huge, but it is interesting. Take heed in the entire area surrounding the mine as I also discovered a vertical mine shaft that you certainly would not want to stumble into. To explore the vertical shaft you would need climbing gear and you certainly would not want to do that alone.
Exercise, fresh air, expansive vistas, changing landscape, beauty and intrigue, an old cabin, a small waterfall, a spring forming a little oasis in the desert, a spooky old mine what better way to be “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“? Thanks for coming along. Be sure to LIKE, COMMENT, FOLLOW, and SHARE. Checkout the menu above for the many different areas that PBTA ventures to. Each website is not only a separate area in the West, but a individual site and thus each needs to be Followed independently. You will also want to review the fine PBTA adventure wear, which is a great way to help support these sites at SHOP APPAREL.
The finale of our “If It Doesn’t Hurt It Isn’t Worth It – 3 Peaks in 3 Days Las Vegas Tour was called Frenchman. It was the shortest in both length and elevation, but it was probably the toughest. (The other two Peaks were:Arrow Canyon Range High Point and Griffith Peak.)
Frenchman Mountain is the highest peak that you see in the area of the Las Vegas Basin. The nice, cute, young lady that is the Entertainment Director at my Mom’s Senior Luxury Apartments, who likes to hike, (We hiked together once, but she ran all the way down, turns out she is a trail runner, and I was worried because I didn’t know that she was going to do that, and I was afraid that she might have taken a wrong trail… so I hiked with her only once, lol), said she heard of Frenchman and that it was ”straight up”. Frenchman Mountain Trail is famous in the Vegas area for being Bad Ass, and indeed it was crazy steep because I could see the road from the summit, but we did not take the road. Oh no… we went straight up the side of the mountain. We were scrambling on Class 2 rock, also known as bouldering, most of the way. (The classification for hiking a steep incline where you might need to use your hands). That turned into some actually rock climbing, you know like three points of contact with the rock as you looked for your next hand hold. This is known as Class 3 climbing, (Climbing a steep incline with modest exposure where you are using your hands, but not necessarily needing a rope, a short fall is possible.) We were never far off the ground, but you certainly would not want to fall just the same. My Peak Bagging Buddy, Mountaineer Keith Christensen was pushing my comfort zone.
I wrecked my knee playing racketball, and it has bothered me for the past 18 months. I Injured it playing against the 4 time and current Senior Nevada Olympic Champion, whom recently got the Silver Medal in the Senior Olympics. The Champ was an Air Force Fighter Pilot Squadron Leader and also flew the U2. In other words he is a National Treasure, and he may no longer be young and nimble, but regardless he is a very special man and to compete I had to throw everything I had at him including the kitchen sink. My only chance was being younger, more agile and faster than he. Throwing said sink at him cost me my knee.
I was feeling that knee problem at the summit of Frenchman Mountain, plus I was worried that climbing down would be worse than going up. So I was contemplating telling my Peak Bagging Buddy, you can climb down the rock face and boulders I am taking the road and you can drive a few miles to that trailhead. But instead I thought to myself what the heck. I am here to do this with my friend so screw it, let’s do this thing!
Oh, did I mention on the summit was a tower that was in a razor wire fenced in area that just so happen had the last 10’ that we, as Peak Baggers, needed? And in gaining those last 10 feet we not only had to trespass, but hang our ass out over a drop that was hundreds of feet as we eased around the fence?
As one might expect the views were tremendous of Las Vegas, the Strip, and in the other direction lonely desert all the way out to Lake Mead and Arizona.
While we climbed down the mountain it turns out that the Thunderbirds, taking off from nearby Nellis Air Force Base, were preparing for tomorrows Air Show over Vegas so that was an added treat watching them tear a hole in the sky from above them.
As it turned out the climb was not as bad going down as I thought because from above you could see the hand holds better. So all in all it was a cool experience, and I became a Peak Bagger.
3 Peaks in 3 Days, the If It Doesn’t Hurt It’s Not Worth It Las Vegas Tour. Thanks for joining me and Mountaineer Keith Christensen as for a few days of Peak Bagging we found a piece of that balance between the mundane existence of every day life and the Wild Abandonment of Adventure on the Top of a Mountain. It’s called Pursuing Balance Through Adventure Las Vegas Hiking. There is always more to come so stay tuned: COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW AND SHARE. Help support PBTA, buy a hat or a shirt. They are the best and they will add to your adventure see SHOP APPAREL . Checkout the menu because PBTA is always on the move, plenty of places in the West to experience. They are all separate sites and each needs to be followed Independently.
The hike to the summit of Griffith Peak is a workout right out of the box. There is plenty to look at along the trail: jagged ominous rock cliffs, dramatic views of forest, the surrounding lofty ridge line provides a striking backdrop, there is a cave to wonder about, left over ice which was surprising to me at this time of year, and the sound of rushing water in the distance as it makes it’s way down the canyon, and on the rather sparse summit were gnarled trees standing in defiance against the rugged climate.
Griffith Peak is about an hour from Las Vegas, but there is a world of difference as far as climate and ecosystem. It is about as different as an island is in the ocean. Think of it as an island smack dab in the middle of the desert, it can be referred to as a “Sky Island”. Griffith Peak is near Mount Charleston, which is the mountain that you see from Las Vegas with the snow on it most of the year. This diversity is one thing that makes the Las Vegas Area such a great place for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking and backcountry camping. Much of the year you have great outdoor activities at Red Rock, Lake Meade, Valley of Fire and other fantastic spots and when the weather turns to scorching then head for the mountains of the Mount Charleston area.
The day before my Peak Bagging Buddy, Keith Christensen, and I climbed Arrow Canyon Range High Point. This was day two of a three day Peak Bagging Adventure, and it was a very different type of hike. This one was much higher, with more distance, and at the top- down right chilly especially compared with the desert down below, which was pretty warm even in mid November. I will say that this hike had nice trails with switch backs, and beautiful scenery. It was not the trail blazing with loose rock underfoot like we experienced the day before, so it didn’t seem as difficult in comparison. However, there was no getting around that it was a long ways and a lot of altitude. The time went quickly as we talked a mile a minute all the way up and all the way down. Well, except when my mountaineer friend, fearless as he is, would stand right on an exposed cliff with a long drop and gaze out over the landscape with his toes practically hanging over the edge. “I am not going to have a conversation with you until you step back from the ledge.”
One rather peculiar thing I will mention was although I could certainly feel the altitude it did not bother me as much as when I climbed Mount San Jacinto. When we spoke about this on the summit Keith surprised me by enlightening me that Griffith Peak, the third highest peak in Southern Nevada, is a little higher, (and thus became the highest peak I have climbed). I am not sure why I did not feel the altitude as much. Could it be because we had summited another peak the day before and thus I was becoming climatized or maybe it was just the good company and the constant jabbering had taken my mind off of any struggle?
Another day, another peak, you just gotta luv it! Thanks for joining my Peak Bagging Buddy Keith Christensen and I as we were “Pursuing Balance Through Adventure“ on Griffith Peak. We have yet another peak to take on- all part of our Peak Bagging 3 Day Adventure as we restore some balance in our lives, just what PBTA is all about. Don’t miss the next exciting episode, and you won’t if you just FOLLOW, LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE. Got Gear? SeeSHOP APPAREL . Want other places to explore? See the menu above for the many locations PBTA travels to, each is a separate site and thus needs to be followed independently. If these past couple posts have PEAKED your interested checkout the link in the menu above for my PEAK BAGGING accomplishments, and if you really want to be impressed than look on that site for my “Buddies” and click on Keith Christensen.
“If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not worth it.” – Keith Christensen, Mountaineer. Arrow Canyon Range High Point is for Peak Baggers, its hard, its suppose to be, thats the point.
In Las Vegas I met up with a friend Keith Christensen. He is a multi-titlest North American Hobie 16 Champion and Alter Cup Champion. Most of my life I have been racing sailboats mostly small fast catamarans, Hobie Cats, but also Nacras, A-Cats, and Prindles. I have also done some big boat racing. I have numerous sailing championships two of which are National Titles, and I love sailing! Keith and I have known each other via sailing for a long time.
Keith and I teamed up for my last Sailing World Championship, now its been like 7 years ago. He came in as an alternate at the last minute when another friend had to drop out just prior to the event start, due to an previously unknown heart ailment. Keith had not been sailing in years, as his passion had turned to Peak Bagging, and despite just jumping on the boat we still made the event finals. He races dirt bikes, and 10 Speeds, still… Keith is a little younger than I am, and is quite passionate about the things that he does even though he has a very California kick back attitude. Among these many facets, Keith Christensen is also a mountaineer, and is a self proclaimed Peak Bagger.
What is a Peak Bagger you might ask? Well, I suppose that is a climber an outdoorsman who is out for a challenge, exercise, to be active, maybe to be in the Wilderness, to take in nature and the scenery, the sport of it all, could be to test his or her metal. I would ponder that it is all or at least a combination of many of those things and more, but according to Peakbagger.com, “He climbs a peak to get to the summit, because it is there, because it needs to be climbed.“ The “Because it is there” expression was coined from a quote by the famous Mount Everest Explorer George Mallory while speaking to a New York Times reporter in 1923.
I was soon to discover just what a Peak Bagger Keith Christensen is. I knew he climbed peaks and when he sent me his resume ahead of time, I fully expected to see like 15 peaks or something, which would have been impressive, but no… Hundreds! So, I was quite apprehensive about trying to bag peaks with him. I am an adventurer, but going more for the nature aspect of it and the scenery, although I will say the harder it is, the more I respect it, and the more that it means. I am intrigued by peaks, but it is not my main thing.
So, Keith drove from Long Beach, California to hike with me in Vegas. We did three peaks in three days. Peaks he needed to add to his collection. The first, Arrow Canyon Range High Point, was a lonely peak out in the desert about an hour or so from Las Vegas. The last portion of our drive was on dirt roads for 30 minutes to finally arrive at the spot.
This was not a fun hike, nor a scenic hike, well except for from the top there was a nice views in every direction of desert and far away mountains. This was a hike that was trail blazing, meaning no trail. Loose rock… three steps forward one step sliding back. The going was tough, the rock was sharp, the brush had thorns, everything wanted to reach out and bite you.
I was fine going up. I stayed up with him, made the summit and there was a register. Usually when I see registers they are multiple booklets and mostly full with no place left to sign, dozens and dozens of entries from just that month. Well, this place had 2/year, and they were all people Keith knew, Peak Baggers. You don’t come to this place unless you are a Peak Bagger. It is pretty much a “Because it is there” type of accomplishment. The way down I found more difficult. Even the large rocks that you stepped on adjusted with each step. Keith was much quicker than I, as I concentrated painstakingly on each and every step.
Keith and I want to thank you for joining us while we were Pursuing Balance Through Adventure – Las Vegas Area Hiking and Peak Bagging a lonely, desolate, desert peak in the middle of no where. Not for the faint of heart, and it wasn’t supposed to be, after all it’s an adventure and the best way to gain that balance in life so sought after. This is day one of a three day Peak Bagging Adventure with Mountaineer Keith Christensen don’t miss the next step, because one missed step could send you down a steep ravine in this business. Please COMMENT, LIKE, FOLLOW and SHARE. Also checkout SHOP APPAREL for adventure hats, shirts, beanies and more. The menu above will send you to more PBTA locations for your adventure pleasure. Each one is independent and thus needs to be Followed independently.
Ash Canyon to Calico Tanks Trail Loop Red Rock Canyon National Conservancy Las Vegas Area
Activity: Rock Scrambling Date: April 26, 2019 Distance: 5 Miles, 1,325 elevation change, duration 4 hours, rated moderate. (Unless you run into trouble then you can double or triple that)
Red Rock Canyon is one of my favorite places. It is so stunningly beautiful that to me it is almost spiritual. But, it is not to be taken lightly. It is a place that can be most inhospitable with extreme heat, and dangerous drops.
While I cannot see visiting Vegas without hiking Red Rock, I would not recommend this particular loop trail. Also, I am not sure I would call this hike moderate.
It is more of a scramble than a hike, which is part of the fun, but people need to know that upfront. Also during the scramble up Ash Canyon most of it is just moving through the area with little or no defined path. Once you get past the canyon it seems to be almost cross country again. Because of this I was using my GPS Hiking Map App heavily and it was chewing through my IPhone battery like crazy.
Once connected with the trail heading towards Calico Tanks, that trail was maintained and well traveled. The tanks were very cool.
Making my way past that spot was the issue. Once again no recognize trail, scrambling, and the GPS on my map app was sketchy as was the area. I could not find a safe way down and my cell phone battery was now dying. It left me in a bad situation, and I had to double back and since that was sketchy with no GPS, I had to abandon the route and just head for the Red Rock Scenic Loop which tripled the mileage making it an almost 11 hour trip.
What I would recommend is scrambling up Ash Canyon, going cross country to the Calico Tanks Trail, and from there coming back the same way, which of course is a much longer trip probably about 8 miles.
Be sure to click the link below taking you to the ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure Face Book Page where you will see some really outstanding pics of this adventure, if I do say so myself. Really a stunning area.
Thanks for taking this look back at one of my favorite places even if it did not end up exactly as I planned, which made it more of an adventure than I was planning, Red Rock is magnificent. If you liked this post then please COMMENT, FOLLOW, LIKE, and SHARE. Checkout the menu above for ‘Pursuing Balance Through Adventure’ is in many different locales, (all which need to be FOLLOWED individually), and you might find some other grand adventures. If you would like to support PBTA then why not checkout the SHOP APPAREL for top quality gear.