North Loop Trail to Charleston Peak is a 14.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Las Vegas, NV that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The North Loop Trail is 16 miles up and back that travels to Mount Charleston, the highest summit in southern Nevada. The hike is all trail (no cross country) and is rated as difficult. The hike passes by a 3,000 year old bristlecone pine. The trail starts off at an easy grade wandering past ponderosa pine, pinion pine, and mountain mahogany. To the east on Angel Peak rests a large, white, ball-shape observatory. The trail has a few moderate switchbacks before reaching a plateau at about the 1.25 mile mark. Several bristlecone pines are scattered throughout this area indicating you are above 9,000 feet. After 12 moderately steep switchbacks, the trail climbs to 10,200 feet. It then descends 150 feet over the next 0.33 of a mile. Looking west you can see glimpses of Mummy Mountain. The limestone cliffs of Mummys Toe are hovering directly in front of the trail. Raintree, the giant bristlecone pine, is over 3,000 years old and acts as a dividing point. A wooden sign next to Raintree indicates your options and the distances. Continue another mile and a half to the junction of Trail Canyon. From the junction the North Loop Trail heads NW around Mummy Mountain. The grade is moderate as you enter the dead forest. This "people-caused fire" in the late 1940s burned more than 500 acres. Scattered throughout the dead forest are aspens that turn orange and yellow in the fall. Look to the left (south), for a great view of Kyle Canyon; directly in front looms Charleston Peak. About a mile from the junction is Cave Springs. Water runs into a horse trough and a path goes up to a cave-like overhang above the horse trough. The North Loop Trail continues southerly through the dead forest and aspens, as the grade becomes steeper. It makes a horseshoe bend and heads NE before switching back and heading west toward the North Rim Ridge. A little less than a mile from the horseshoe bend, a series of bluffs to the left of the trail offers great views of Kyle Canyon. The aspens disappear up here, since the elevation is more than 10,000 feet. The trail flattens as it heads SW around the series of bluffs. Charleston Peak goes in and out of view as the trail starts to imitate a roller coaster. The trail flattens out again and cuts through a forest of bristlecone pines. Three overlooks to the north (right) offer the first views of the Sisters, Macks Peak, and McFarland Peak. The third overlook also has a great view of Charleston Peak and Kyle Canyon, making this one of the best views in the Mt. Charleston area. The trail continues in a SW direction as it winds along the base of cliffs. A few short but steep switchbacks bring you to the North Rim Ridge. As the final switchback turns to the left, a short path to the right leads to the ridge. Plan to spend a few minutes catching your breathe while you take in the fantastic view of all the northern mountains of the Mt. Charleston area. The trail remains flat as it heads SE below Devils Thumb. Mt. Charleston comes in and out of view as the trail traverses the rocky ledges. Trees are scarce since the elevation is over 11,000 feet. The trail heads around a few bluffs; it seems to take forever to arrive at the base of Charleston Peak. It makes one switchback and climbs around a final bluff before the near mile-long trek to the peak. The last part of the trail is a series of steep switchbacks. The grade is 17%. It's important to drink plenty of water before and during this section. One cause of altitude sickness is a lack of water! Congratulations, you're standing, or lying down questioning your sanity, at the highest point in southern Nevada. Take a moment to experience the silence, breath the clean air, and be thankful you're in good enough shape to be standing on the peak. The peak offers a fantastic 360-degree view of southern Nevada, eastern California, and southern Utah. An Army box contains a sign-in book. A dug out fort is a favorite resting spot before starting back down.
Awesome views! If you want to get away from the Vegas heat come to mt. Charleston
Very challenging. Camped out on the trail. Switchbacks at end were killer.
I give it a 5 for the views. This is a brutal hike that took us 10 hours to complete a round trip of 17 miles, give or take. Some of the trails were hard on the ankles. Still worth it for sure.
I did not prep for this hike at all in fact it was a last minute suggestion. I am not in shape and could stand to loose about 25lbs, 43 years old. We took trail head canyon to the north loop all the way to the peak. Total time was just shy of 10.5 hours. We got very luck with the weather absolutely no direct sun exposure (cloudy day). I took 200oz of water and only had about 10oz left when we got to the truck. This was the hardest hike I have ever done in my life. The first 2 plus miles on trail head canyon is loose rocks and very difficult to climb worse coming down. The views from the top are worth the pain.
Hiked and done some snow skiing in this area. Some very strenuous trails, have not done them all, but great views, and excellent get away from the craziness of Vegas.
Great hike but be prepared. You will need at least 4 liters of water! Definitely an ALL day hike.
We went 8/16. What out for weather it can pop up fast.
This was my first hike to the top of Mt Charleston. The real name of this trail is THE NORTH LOOP TRAIL. I am not sure why the name of some trails on this site are not correct. I left the parking area around 0530. I would advise anyone to get to the trail head early as the parking lot will fill up fast.
The trail is well defined and strenuous. The first 4 miles of the trail are up hill. Then from miles 4-6 are mostly flat with an up-hill or down-hill section every now and then. At approximately mile 3 there is a water trough for horses. It is fed by a snow pack with a steel pipe. It was still flowing today (mid July). I would suggest filtering the water before consuming.
From mile 7 to the summit is the steepest section with several switch-backs.
The view from the summit is awesome. The summit was very windy and I actually considered putting on a long sleeve.
Overall a great hike. I was humble several times as I was passed on the ascent by a few trail runners. At the top I caught up with a couple who said it took them just under 3 hours to summit.
This was a very challenging hike for me. I am a very active and fit 30-year old woman. I weight train and do yoga weekly. I did not expect to have my ass kicked this hard on this hike!
My boyfriend and I started at 7am sharp. We parked at the trailhead for Trail Canyon Trail. We walked up 2-miles and took the North Loop up. Total hike was about 11-hours once we got back to the car. The air gets very thin up there. I ended up taking 3 aspirin before coming down.
It was a very rewarding feeling once we got to the top. I started out very strong and stayed that way until about 30 minutes up (I pulled a muscle in my leg which really slowed me down). The thin air started to get to me too. The last 8 miles coming down were the hardest for me. It was a very challenging hike but overall I'm very happy we did it.
The weather was perfect and the trail was easy to follow. Make sure you come prepared!! Hydrate 1-2 days before and stay away from alcohol. Eat a good meal before you start and bring plenty of water and snacks. Pace yourself - this will be an all day hike that will challenge your endurance and mental strength.
It is almost July and there was still some patches of snow (pretty cool). I applaud anyone who can do this hike in the dead winter. I don't think I would even attempt to try - seems too dangerous.
Strenuous Hike up the mountain for a spectacular view. Only Hiked up to where the trail divides at the top, and then made my way back. But there is a lot more trail to enjoy if you have the time, in either direction. Lots of Deer, Squirrels, and Bird watching.
Made the mistake of taking the longest root imaginable from the North Loop off of Deer Creek.
Salt , sweets above all else at least 5 to 6 liters of water!!!
Very Difficult. Steep and arduous. Will take an entire day to complete. Do not think the way back will be easier because it is just as hard. Prepare yourself, bring lots of water. Would probably not do this again. Great views, though.
I took a week off to hike in Nevada and Southers Utah with Charleston Peak as the "main event".
I wanted to do the South to North loop but the South Loop trail was closed for the season due to recent fires, excessive drought and temperatures as well as danger of falling rocks.
I retreated to the Trail Canyon trail-head and opted for the out-and-back from there. I had trained the day before on the Raintree trail nearby to assess my fitness for higher altitudes hiking (I live hafl in San Franciscon and half in Oregon's Willamette Valley... not much elevation in either case).
I started around 7:30 am and it took my 60 years old legs a good 11 hours to complete the hike (granted, with many rest and picture stops). This is a very beautiful trail with a fairly steep climb for the first 3.5 miles. After that, the trail mostly follows the North ridge line of the big amphitheater at the head of which Charleston Peak stands. While not flat, these next 3.5 mile or so are a series of mild ups and downs with beautiful views of Kyle Canyon and the South ridge line. At several point, the trail reaches saddles at the ridgeline that offer views to the North and the North-West. Beautiful place to sit down for a quick snack and rest.
The last mile and a half was a bit harder for me (what with a few cramps starting to develop in spite of the electrolytes I had made sure to bring with me). The toughest part was BEFORE the series of 5 switchbacks to the summit. Once I started on the switchbacks I go a second wind and the proximity of the summit drew me in.
I was alone at the top for about 25 minutes before heading back down -- just a gentle breeze and a nice sunny day -- perfect conditions; this is truly a great place to be, with vast expanses of the Nevada landscape laying down all around. Don't forget to sign the summit register and take a break before the looooong way back! Retracing my steps on the North Loop I noticed that there are quite a few UPs on the way back (did not notice the DOWNs that much when I was on my way in :-) ).
I hiked the trail on a Monday and really enjoyed being on my own in the Spring Mountains for that long. Only met about 5 parties on the way out and back. Great way to try and "be one" with this very wonderful place.
I may very well tray again the complete the loop when both South and North Loop trails are opened.
One last word of "advice" or clarification. Before going, I was confused by the mileage quoted in different places for the North Loop route. The issue is that the OFFICIAL trail-head for the North Loop is not in Kyle Canyon but instead on Deer Creek Road (state route 186) joining Kyle Canyon to Lee Canyon. From THAT trail-head, you are looking at a 21 miles out-and-back it seems.
Instead, this page on alltrails.com follows the most popular route from Kyle Canyon's "Trail Canyon trail-head" to North Loop trail (which it reached after a bit more than 2 miles. Following THAT route, the out-and-back distance is a tad under 17 miles.
If Las Vegas is too hot, this is the place to seek relief. While LV in May('14) was already in triple digits, Charleston was in the cool 70's. S. Loop through the park was closed due to fire, so N. Loop was the next choice. One of the highest peaks in state of Nevada, the view was spectacularly decent; however the trekking made a more interesting story though ecosystem.
Awesome hike, favorite in southern Nevada!
I had a great time. It was long but not especially difficult. Make sure everyone in your group is physically capable of hiking for long periods of time. The view is magnificent, although you can see Vegas better from Griffith.