Did you know one of the best kept outdoor secrets in the country is the tremendous amount of hiking southern Nevada has to offer? We have three very diverse areas that allow year round hiking. These areas, Mt. Charleston, Red Rock Canyon, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, are just minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip. You owe it to yourself to take advantage of this great activity.
I am Branch Whitney, author and speaker. For the last 19 years I have been hiking and finding routes to peaks around Southern Nevada. I have authored five hiking guidebooks, including Hiking Las Vegas. It’s an Amazon best seller and the number one guidebook for this area. My web site (www.hikinglasvegas.com) contains all the information you need to know about hiking in southern Nevada. I am also the creator of the 52 Peak Club. You will learn more about it later in this article. You will get up to speed if you have never hiked before. You will learn where to hike, what equipment you need, and the number one safety rule. Let’s get started.
Where To Hike
The southern Nevada climate and diversity of terrain provides year round hiking. In the winter months the Lake Mead area is our first choice. It’s warmer than the other areas and virtually never sees snow. Hiking around Lake Mead is both easy and interesting. You’ll find hot springs and narrows to explore. What Lake Mead lacks in peaks, it makes up with incredible formations and natural wonders.
When spring rolls around, Red Rock Canyon is our first pick. Red Rock Canyon is a maze of canyons and mountains, ledges and ramps, and chutes and gullies that lead to peaks few have stood at. It’s only 20 miles west of Las Vegas, but when you’re deep in the heart of Red Rock you’ll think you’re on another planet. This outdoor playground is waiting to be explored. In Red Rock Canyon you hike the trails, boulder through the canyons, and rock scramble to peaks.
When the summer heat starts bearing down, it’s time to head up to Mt. Charleston, where it’s 20 to 30 degrees cooler! There are a variety of trails and mountaineering routes to numerous peaks. Waterfalls, 3000-year-old bristlecone pines, and fresh air are waiting for you.
What To Bring On A Hike
First, determine the difficulty of the hike. You’ll need to bring more items for a 12-mile cross-country hike than a one-mile trail hike. Common sense plays an important part. For easy hikes (less than four miles, all trail, little or no elevation gain) you should bring the following items:
Water (one quart or more), running shoes or lightweight hiking boots, sunscreen, sunglasses, snack, fanny pack or day pack, cell phone and proper clothing.
For longer hikes bring the following:
Water -Three quarts (more if it’s hot).
Food – Fruit is the best, but the main thing is to eat to keep your energy up.
Daypack – from 1,200 to 1,600 cu.in. Most daypacks are now hydration packs.
Boots – Lightweight or middleweight. Red Rock is better in a lightweight boot with sticky sole, called Stealth Rubber. Mt. Charleston is better in a middleweight boot if hiking cross country, but it’s personal preference. Remember, a pound on the feet is like five on the back.
Proper clothing – Hot weather: cotton
Cold weather: wicking clothing.
Poncho- An inexpensive poncho weighs next to nothing and takes up little room. It will keep you warm in a rainstorm, not necessarily dry. It’s the cold that will kill you, not the wet.
Cell Phone – Will not work everywhere, but works on virtually every peak.
10 ESSENTIALS – map, compass, extra food, extra clothing, first aid supplies, pocket knife, fire starter, matches, flashlight, and sunglasses.
The proper clothing depends on the climate. Southern Nevada has temperatures ranging from near zero in Mt. Charleston to over 110 degrees around Lake Mead.
Clothing helps you stay dry and comfortable. How do you prevent from becoming chilled? Wear layers of clothing. The secret to layering is combining correct clothing in the proper order. When done properly, clothes trap air warmed by your body heat while wicking moisture away from your skin.
The first layer (closest to your skin) wicks moisture away from your skin while trapping body heat. Any of the wicking fabrics found under the trade names Thermax or Coolmax work well. They come in different thicknesses. The colder the climate, the thicker the material you need.
The middle layer acts as insulation. Fleece sweats, polypro pullovers, or a long-sleeved flannel shirt are good choices. The middle layer can be more than one garment.
The final layer protects from wind. A windbreaker is fine in Las Vegas, unless you’re hiking in Mt. Charleston during the winter months. I recommend jackets made from GORE-TEX for cold weather hiking. If you become hot, simply peel off layers. If you become cold, add layers. By applying this technique you’ll be comfortable in any kind of weather.
The Number One Safety Rule
Always tell someone which hike you are doing and what time you expect to be home. Also, it’s wise to hike with a group of at least four. Why? If someone is hurt, one person can stay with the victim administering first aid (if they know how) and the other two can call for help.
52 Peak Club
What’s this 52 Peak Club, you ask? The 52 Peak Club is an unique hiking program that increases your self-confidence, your fitness level, and your number of valuable friendships by hiking the best 52 Peaks around Las Vegas in a safe group setting. We offer hikes virtually everyday ranging from easy to very advance. Go to this website to learn more and apply to become a member: www.52PeakClub.com +