Charleston Peak South Trail

HARD 31 reviews

Charleston Peak South Trail is a 16.6 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Las Vegas, Nevada that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
16.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
4937 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

horseback riding

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

The South Loop Trail starts off at an easy pace as it heads SW. The grade increases rapidly as the trail turns easterly and passes to the east of Echo Cliffs. As the trail turns back SW, it passes through the two sets of cliffs. To the north is Echo Cliffs; to the south is an unnamed cliff range. Also to the south is Springs Fork, one of many springs in Mt. Charleston. It's a short quarter-mile trek to the springs. The trail follows a series of switchbacks as it climbs the backside of Echo Cliffs. There's a great overlook at the top of Echo Cliffs (two miles from the trailhead); Kyle Canyon, Mummy Mountain, and Cathedral Rock can be viewed from this overlook. The trail leaves the overlook and heads west with a gradual incline. It crosses drainage and starts a series of switchbacks that leads to the South Rim Plateau. Many of the switchbacks on the north end offer grand views of Kyle Canyon, Cathedral Rock, and Mummy Mountain. The landscape changes into a meadow before reaching the plateau. The last 100 yards are steep, but the view of Griffith Peak helps ease the pain. Upon reaching the plateau, a sign indicates the distances to Charleston Peak, Harris Saddle, and back to Kyle Canyon (the trailhead). The elevation is 10,700 feet; the distance to this point is four miles. The trail heads west and soon enters a delightful meadow. This part of the trail is referred to as The Meadows and is a favorite spot for campers. The grade is slight with a few downhill sections. Charleston Peak comes into view several times during the ramble through the meadow. The Meadows gives way to a grove of timber as the trail heads west and the grade increases. The trail hugs the ridgeline for more than half a mile, offering remarkable views of Kyle Canyon, Mt. Charleston Lodge, and State Route 157. Directly across the canyon is Mummy Mountain, and to the (west) left is North Ridge Rim. The trail turns away from the ridgeline and heads SW before it climbs to another ridge. Off to the left is an unnamed peak that many hikers mistake for Mt. Charleston. The trail rises to a saddle and Mt. Charleston ridgeline comes into view. The trail heads NW toward the summit and away from the false peak. About 150 yards past the saddle a faint path to the south (left) travels down to Peak Springs. There's a sign marking the turnoff, but it's easily missed. The half-mile trek down to Peak Springs is very steep and you lose 900 feet in elevation. The hike back up to the trail is a killer, but if you need water Peak Springs is a reliable source. Due to the wind and elevation, the landscape becomes harsh. Bristlecone pines are reduced to twisted dwarfs. You're above 11,000 feet at this point, but luckily the incline is moderate. Charleston Peak looks more like a ridge than a summit from this angle. Just off the trail to the right are the remains of a 1955 plane crash. The last half-mile to the peak is a steep 20% grade. Just before the peak the trail forks. Both trails go to the peak; however, the main trail is less steep. The wind can be harsh above the treeline. Bring a windbreaker. It's important to drink plenty of water before this final ascent. 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, breathe the clean air, and be thankful you're in good enough shape to stand at the peak. The summit 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 that holds 10 people is a favorite resting point before starting back down. You can return the way you came up or make a loop by hiking down the North Loop Trail to Trail Canyon.

hiking
4 days ago

hiking
5 days ago

hiking
9 days ago

backpacking
12 days ago

hiking
13 days ago

hiking
16 days ago

Great hike worthy of it's rating. It was rather busy but not bad considering it was the 4th of July. Great crowd though. The last mile or so was very difficult for me. I probably would have given up had it not been for the encouragement from all the other hikers. Well worth it. Very glad I didn't give up. Will definitely do this one again.

23 days ago

Hiked this back at the start of June. The snow was still patched in some spots but the trail was mostly clear. Beautiful views throughout the hike with plenty of places to stop along the way. Despite the extremely windy summit, there's a pleasant dugout at the top that shelters you well. Just watch out for little red spiders! Hiked On: 11 JUN

24 days ago

24 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Great hike but too much snow to pass in regular hiking shoes at about the 2.5 mile mark. Need to give it another month or so before it will be passable to the summit of Griffith and Charleston. Hiked on 05/27/17.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this back in September '16 the day it reopened from the Carpenter 1 fire. Spectacular views but you have to work for it. There is also no water source so be prepared! The first few miles are a little tough up to the junction of Griffith Peak and South Loop with lots of switchbacks but many nice places to stop and relax and take in some sites. The meadows and previously burned forest set a wonderful backdrop to this long hike. You'll also get to pass the 1955 plane crash site the last mile or so to the peak, don't miss it, it's worth the stop. Weather was wonderful but it can be very windy at the peak. Don't forget to stop at the lodge and have a bite or celebratory drink after. They also have small cabins to rent with big tubs for that soak after all those miles.

hiking
5 months ago

amazing hike, saw several mule deer, took most of the day up and back, bring lots of water and snacks, great place to escape the vegas heat in summer

hiking
9 months ago

Friday, July 01, 2016

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hiking

cross country skiing
Saturday, January 30, 2016

My crazy huskey and I love the trails here

Friday, September 11, 2015