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I made a quick decision while in La Vegas to hike this trail. I read over the description but not that carefully. Its steep and difficult. I made it to the second saddle and decided to turn back because I didn't plan on two more hours. The trail is a road believe it or not. (I would not want to be driving any vehicle on that road). I'll be back in March to hike the whole thing. The views are incredible and as hard as it is, its exhilarating to hike a steep trail. Even making it to the second saddle is worth it if you don't want to hike the whole thing. The gravel is loose and its almost harder going down. Be careful. Like any hike start early.

Hiked in late August 2018, connecting the North and South loops to make it a proper loop and get more scenery (GPS track said 18.2 miles total). Connecting North and South requires walking about a mile through town at the end, but I think very worth it (didn't find an AllTrails page just for that exact route, but started with the North trail described here). Started ~7am, took 9 hours total / ~2mph. Under 30, relatively fit but no elite athlete, found the elevation more challenging than the distance coming from sea level. Carried 3L of water, could have use a little bit more.

Views are stunning, and having connected the two loops I'd circled the entire canyon by the end of it. Highly recommend.

Beautiful view well worth the hike, not for beginners.

2 hours to the junction with Mt Griffin than 2 hours to the summit. I started with blue sky and on the way back the ice rain hits me. It lasted for 90 minutes. So my way down was very fast. I complete the track in 6 hours and 30 minutes.
I had a small headache due to the altitude. Easy trail to follow, just walking.

Absolutely fantastic hike. I wanted to do this last time I was in Vegas but didn't get a chance -- I did this time. The hike states it's 16 miles out and back and using AllTrails record I logged 9 out and 9 back. My overall move time was just over 7 hours, but I did pause and spent 30 minutes at the summit, and 20 minutes watching an awesome sunset on the north side of the trial.

Just as you'll see from the chart the hike start of with a decent incline from the get-go, tapers off for a couple miles then you hit the switchbacks which kick your butt. It wasn't until I hit over 11,000' I started to feel the altitude kicking in, but it certainly did. I started to get mild leg cramps, sausage fingers, etc. I paused for a couple minutes and hydrated, they proceeded to the top. The hardest part in my mind was the heading down. The switchbacks weren't too bad, but the last 5 miles just never ended.

I got a late start and left the parking lot at exactly 1:00 PM, I didn't get back to the car until 9:00 PM, so 8 hours in total. Once that sun went down, it got pretty dark out on the trail and the last 4 miles was a stealth mission using a headlamp.

Fortunately, the trail is very well defined and easy to navigate. That said, at about the 5-mile marker coming down there are a couple spots you can stray off course and end up at a steep drop-off.

I'm a pretty active guy and doing something exercise wise almost daily. One thing for sure is that this trail kicked my as5. Likely more to do with the altitude than distance, but still did nevertheless.

Awesome trail, highly recommend if you get the opportunity to. The parking lots get full quickly at the bottom --though interestingly enough I saw literally no one on the north trail after the first mile.

trail running
1 month ago

Great trail! I did this as training for an upcoming ultra. I brought 2L of water, some gels, and my lightweight shell. Was wishing I had more food but was happy to have a light pack! Reached the summit in 3 hours. The whole trip was 5 hours for me (running), which was slower than I planned but the rocky trails forced me to slow down to avoid a fall. Incredible views, great training, and so cool to see the plane crash!

Brutal but totally worth it.

It’s an awesome hike!! So glad I made it, with a fear of heights, it was difficult, but worth it

This trail is awesome! I love working my way up during sunset so you can see it set way out in the west, and watch as all the lights of Vegas turn on. It’s a good idea to bring a headlamp if you’re doing this. One thing is that without fail I will tumble on the way down at some point. The gravel is pretty loose and it’s hard to anticipate which rocks will roll down the steep face with you on top of them. 5 stars, always recommended.

I've done this trail a few times and taken new people to it and they all love it, for the work out and especially the amazing views on both side at the peak

Hike is harder than you would expect. Go up there for sunset and then sit and watch the city light up. Beautiful night views.

Great trail, I did it solo and it took me 6.5 hours round trip with about 10-15 minutes at the top to snap some pictures. I took a 2 liter camelbak type pack with 3 other 16.9 Oz waters and that was good for me. Going up was actually more enjoyable to me, when you get close to the end coming down your knees and shins are pretty tired.

This hike was HARD! AllTrails says this was 8.25 miles one way and nearly a 5000’ climb. We left the trailhead for a night hike at 10pm and made the summit in about 7 hours. Our goal was to reach the summit for sunrise. In the dark, your view is limited to the strength of your headlamp. Too many “stairs” and switchbacks to count before reaching the “saddle” or the “T” where you split off to Griffith Peak or the Summit. I think I kept our group at a slow, steady pace; some areas steep enough to make me stop frequently to catch my breath. From the trail approaching the top, you can see the US Flag waving in the breeze. Such a shot of adrenaline as you know the summit is a few hundred yards away! There is a rock pit up top that we used to help protect from the wind while we waited for the sunrise. The view of Las Vegas at night with some sun rays starting to come over the horizon is amazing.
The weather was perfect for the hike. Waiting in the pit at the top was freezing! Using trash bags and thermal blankets helped just a bit in retaining while we refueled and shivered in the dark. It would have been nice to have a small fire in that rock pit to help keep us warm! It wasn’t long before dawn was breaking and the glow was enough light to stop using our headlamps.
Sunrise on top of the mountain is an awesome view! No other words...
The hike down during daylight gave us the chance to see what we hiked past at night. Already tired, it has to be done! Not far from the top is the wreck of a plane crash from the 1950’s. We hiked down along the ridge for a bit, able to look down both sides of the mountain. After that, it was enjoying the view as I willed my legs to get down the mountain! We made it down in 5 hours. It was a rewarding experience!

South loop is a great trail. We love to backpack this hike as there is many sites along the way. This is a great beginner backpacking trip, I highly suggest it. Final push to the summit is the hardest part of the trail. Beautiful views!

Good workout trail. No a very scenic trail though. Lots of loose gravel on trail so watch your footing.

Brutal hike. Recommend you take at least 5-6 liters of water. I’m a 300 lb male and was able to accomplish the hike to the summit in a day without camping , but it was rough. Started at 0745 am, go to the summit at 0215 pm. Once you get thru all the switchbacks and up to the saddle, you have a decent walk they the meadow and bristlecone pine burned out forest till you get to the back of mount Charleston, in which it turns into a serious ass kicker with steep altitude gains above the tree line along mostly loose rocks. The elevation is no joke, was literally taking a break every 100-150 steps. Spent 30 minutes at the top, amazing views and awesome sense of accomplishment. The walk back down is rough, took me 4 hours to get back down, total time from my car and back was 11 hours. Like I said earlier, bring a more water than you think you’ll need, I brought 4 liters and drank all of it before I got back down and would have definitely preferred to have brought a couple other water bottles. Doubt I’ll do it again, but glad I was able to do it once. Also added a Nevada flag to the flagpole beneath the USA flag that’s up there!

Pretty steep but over all really enjoyable, get there early because it can get pretty hot due to lack of shade

This was an interesting hike for me because there are no blazes to follow. I made it just about 2mi shy of the summit before having to turn back because of lightning and hail. The views on the way up made up for me bailing though. There are a few water caches scattered around in case you run low, but make sure you carry at least 3L. Next I come back I might add on the South Loop as well.

First time on this road, 2d jeep trip ever we turned back (Nov 2017). Today we conquered it! Our jeep is 35", w/ 3.5" lift. Our friends had a stock Jeep Rubicon. We were nervous about the rock cliff from last time but the experience we've had since has given us confidence and skill. We took it slow, our friends used hub lockers, and we rocked, eating lunch at the top. Get some experience and try it again.

Great trail, basically a walking tour of Red Rock. I've done it clockwise and counterclockwise and don't really have a a preference on which is the "better" way to travel the loop. Clockwise gets the "boring" Jeep trail out of the way and leaves the scenic Calico portion for the end. Counterclockwise gives you a great scenic start and ends with an easier return on the Jeep trail. Can't go wrong either way. Pretty easy to follow, can get a little hard to find the trail when it intersects with the trailheads but nothing too frustrating. Definitely recommend waiting for cooler weather to do this hike.

off road driving
3 months ago

We have done this trail 3 times over the last year or so. The trail conditions near the top have degraded over that period of time, but remain usable for most high clearance vehicles. Most recent trip was 2 weeks ago in a Jeep TJ with lockers front and rear. We had a second vehicle following that was a brand new stock Tacoma. The stock Taco was able to make it but did bang up his step bars a little. Pick the right lines and it's still ok for most vehicles.

hiking
3 months ago

Holy cow. You gotta WORK for this one! Made it to the arch, but wasn't able to go any further due to a thunderstorm that closed in on us fast as we traversed up the crack below the arch. Just enough time to get up, take a few pics, and get back down. Started pouring just after we climbed back out of the final chute on the return. Will definitely be coming back to summit.... Two things: 1- I've got a stock Ford F150 with BFG KO2 and made it 2 miles into Rocky Gap Road without a problem. Making it to the TH with factory clearance could be an issue, but it's possible to take off at LEAST 4-5 miles round trip in a stock vehicle, driving carefully. 2- the more "technical" portions of the hike (last half mile) feel really sketchy - worse than they really are. If you're uncomfortable outside of the crack on the excited face, you can crab your way up/down the crack slowly and safely. Total stats today: 12.1M, 3,562 elevation gain (parked truck 2mi. approx up Rocky Gap, to the arch - not summit), and 6h27m r/t. Good luck!

Kicked my butt. We only went as far as the first summit, which was about 5 miles (total of 10). Hard hike. No joke. I loved it, I’m glad I went. I’m glad I pushed myself.

off road driving
3 months ago

As stated by Bryce there is a large step that is unpassable without a lot of experience and a team to make it safely

AllTrails shows a quite similar elevation/distance for this trail (Mt Charleston South Loop) and the Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon. Do not be fooled. This hike is challenging, but if you can hike the Bright Angel Trail in one day, then you'll have no problems here.

The first thing people should be aware of is the lack of parking. I even got dinged with an $80 parking ticket all because I happened to get there slightly later than a few other hikers. It was my first time there and these people know the parking is inadequate. Handing out $80 parking tickets to people who drove a long way and have no idea where additional parking may be is completely and totally immoral especially considering they do nothing to make parking more accessible.

In fact, the parking in such a high volume area is such a pain in the ass that I do not recommend this hike at all. If you can park, it will be great, if not, it will be awful.

The hike itself does not play games and will thrust you directly into steep elevation climbing. This is a good thing as it will demonstrate what to expect for the next 2-3 hours. Before long, you will hit the Mt Charleston Wilderness which is a beautiful forested area with spectacular views. The steep grades will continue until you get to the top of this forested area where you will find that the elevation levels out as the path splits between the easy peak (Fletcher Peak??) and the harder, longer Mt Charleston loop.

The meadows of dead trees will continue a few miles and provide a bit of a break. Before long the elevation picks back up and you will need a little reserve in the tank to make it up the last mile. There will probably be a crowd of people at the peaks, and someone appropriately added a Vegas Golden Knights flag to the summit.

All in all, this is a pretty awesome mountain for Vegas locals to have around for quick access to natural splendors. It is unforgiving and not recommended for out-of-towners because you may struggle to find parking. If you drove a long way to get here, then you are better off driving a long way to climb a different mountain that is not so crowded.

Great hike !! Great view of LV on the top. Last portion of the return is not easy

I've done most Mountains around the Vegas valley, but none compare to what this brings to you. It's a long, windy(mostly starts at the junction between Griffith peak and Mt. Charleston), ride up there. The continual incline,makes sure you get your butt kicked thru out the entire summit. The weight we had on our backs with snacks and water didn't help either. Overall this is my biggest accomplishment as far as hiking, and I am very proud i was able to do it in one day, without camping up there.

My girlfriend and I started at 8 am on 6/12/18 and reached the summit at 12:37 pm (4 hrs and 37 min.) We spent 10 minutes on top (had enough energy for snowball fight) before heading back down. Took 3:50 to make it back to the parking lot. 8 hour and 26 minute journey. Tough day, but great feeling of accomplishment.

backpacking
4 months ago

The scenery was gorgeous, and the continual incline is unforgiving with packs, lol. We weren’t able to make it to the Charleston summit this time; we camped at the trail junction between the peak and the trail to Griffith. Definitely would like to return one day without so much gear so that we can finish the hike. :-) very different hike that I’ve been on since moving back to Las Vegas

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