About a one hour drive from the Las Vegas Strip is the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area where you can escape the heat of the valley and enjoy a hike or picnic in the fresh mountain air. Temperatures in the Spring Mountains will be 10-30 degrees lower than in the valley below, making it a great summer get-away. I’ve chosen three hikes in the Spring Mountains that are easy and give a good variety of the types of habitats you can visit. No gas is available in the Spring Mountains recreation area so be sure to fill up you tank before you go, also be sure to bring water for yourself.
Sawmill Loop Trail
This is the lowest in elevation, also the flattest and easiest hike of the three hikes. The loop trail covers 1.3 miles and winds through pinyon pine and juniper woodland that provides some shade. It will be fairly warm here, probably only about 10 degrees cooler than the temperature in the valley. From this trail you will have good views of the Mummy Mountains and Lee Canyon. You may also encounter mountain bikers and horseback riders on the trail with you.
Directions: From the Las Vegas Strip take I-15 North to I-95 North continue 12 miles past Kyle Canyon Road to Lee Canyon Road (SR156) and exit to your left. Sawmill trailhead is clearly marked approximately 13 miles ahead on your right. There is ample parking available.
Fletcher Canyon Trail
This trail is higher in elevation; the trail goes from approximately 7000 feet at the trailhead to 8000 feet at the top of the canyon. Although it sounds like a big gain in elevation it is a gradual gain, not much of the trail is steep, but deeper in the canyon there is some rock scrambling. The presence of water and abundance of trees makes this a good hike for observing birds and other wildlife. There is plenty of shade and places to stop along the trail to enjoy a picnic if you wish. As you leave the trailhead you pass through areas of Pine and Manzanita, you will eventually cross the stream bed. In the summer most of the streambed will be dry but as you get higher into the canyon there will be some water. Where the trail splits if you stay to the right you will find the moss grotto where there will be water that seems to come out of the rock and moss growing all along the rock wall. As you go higher into the canyon you will be doing more rock scrambling and eventually will come to a steeper climb, some people go beyond this others consider this the end of the trail, it depends on how adventurous you are.
Directions: From the Las Vegas Strip take I-15 North to I-95 North to the Kyle Canyon Road (SR 157) exit to your left. Continue up Kyle Canyon Road approximately ½ mile past the junction with SR 158. There is a small turnout for parking at the trailhead on the right, but there is additional parking on the opposite side of the road a little further away.
This hike has the highest elevation and is also the longest (6 miles for the full loop), although you can always turn around at any point and shorten the hike. The elevation rises from 8400 feet at the trailhead to 9300 at the top. There are some steep switchbacks along the trail but most is a more gradual climb. For your efforts you will be rewarded with spectacular views of mountains and the valley below. Near the trail head you will pass through a pine and Aspen grove, then continue into White pine and ultimately encounter the Bristlecone pine at the peak. The bristlecone pine is known for being one of the longest living trees on the planet, many are thousands of years old. After you peak out at the top, the trail will wind gradually lower and merge onto a dirt road which will take you back to SR 156 which you walk along to complete the loop.
Directions: From the Las Vegas Strip take I-15 North to I-95 North continue 12 miles past Kyle Canyon Road to Lee Canyon Road (SR156) and exit to your left. Continue another 17 miles to the turnaround at the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort and park there. The trailhead is on the western edge of the parking lot.
Las Vegas is not just for gamblers; there are beautiful scenic areas to escape to that surround the valley, making Las Vegas a paradise for nature lovers as well.