Don’t get caught hiking in the dark. Many of the hikes around southern Nevada are too dangerous to do in the dark. During this time of year plan to be at the peak, waterfall or your ultimate destination by noon. This allows you at least four hours to make it back to your car before it gets dark. Don’t be fooled by the adage that the return trip is faster. Sometimes the descent is faster, but not all the time. Always carry a headlamp just in case.
Several factors determine how quick the return trip will be. These factors include: terrain, length of descent (sometimes it’s not the same as the ascent), speed (some hikers are slower descending than ascending), and route finding. Good planning and preparation lead to an enjoyable and safe hike.
Here is a list of great winter hikes:
Lake Mead Area
Arizona Hotsprings – this is the time of the year to enjoy the hotspring. There are two ways to do this hike: The normal route or the Fortress Butte route. The normal route travels down White Canyon to the Colorado River. From there it’s about 0.25 miles to the 100 degree plus water! The Fortress Butte route climbs an impossible looking butte and then the route travels down to the hotsprings via an easy wash.
Gold Strike Hotsprings – this is the most popular hotsprings, which makes it very crowded on the weekends. Due to a flood in 2005, the main hotsprings is dry. There are smaller hotsprings in the canyon, but they only hold about eight people. Be prepared to use ropes to reach the hotsprings. You can continue all the way down to the Colorado River.
Liberty Bell Arch – a cool arch in a shape of a liberty bell is one of the highlights of this hike. Continuing a short distance and you can have lunch overlooking the Colorado River! This hike is all trail, so there’s no scrambling or exposure.
China Date Ranch
China Date Ranch is less than 90 minutes from Las Vegas and at least 10 degrees warmer. It offers the most unique hikes you will ever do! One word of advice: Don’t do these hikes if it’s windy.
Driving directions: From the intersection of 159 and 160 (Blue Diamond Highway), drive 25.6 miles on west State Route 160 and turn left onto Old Spanish Trail Highway (the sign reads: Tecopa). Drive 31.2 miles and turn left onto Furnace Creek Road (a sign reads: Visit China Ranch Date Farm.) Drive 1.7 miles and turn right onto the signed China Ranch Road. Follow this road less than two miles to the China Ranch Gift Shop. Do not veer left as indicated by the sign. A passenger car can make this drive.
Fence Post Peak – you will never forget this hike. Imagine climbing a vertical dirt mountain! You must be strong enough to pull yourself up 100 feet of rope.
South Peak – another dirt mountain that appears to be impossible to climb. It’s the highest dirt mountain in the area. There’s exposure on this hike.
Date Palm – hike to a palm tree in the middle of nowhere. How did it get there? This is an easy hike.
After your hike, you can enjoy a date shake and take home dates from the store, which is located at the trailhead. The store is opened 9 am to 5 pm, seven days a week. +
Hiking Resources for You:
The 52 Peak Club: Safe and smart group hiking: http://www.52peakclub.com/
Branch’s bio here: http://www.hikinglasvegas.com/about.html
Branch’s Facebook Hiking Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HikingLasVegas/
My next Hiker’s Safety and Learning talk is:
Nov. 16th at 6:30 pm at the Windmill Library – This is a FREE event