Charleston Peak South Trail

HARD 49 reviews

Charleston Peak South Trail is a 16.5 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Las Vegas, Nevada that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
16.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5321 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

no shade

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
2 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
18 days ago

Lots of nice views along the way (plenty that are about as good as the views from the summit IMO). Definitely a must do if you are into suffering... first time I've hiked more than 4-5 miles in a day in probably 7-8 years... 9hr 30min from car to car including the detour to Griffith Peak and breaks - linked to the north loop trail on the way down and connected via the road at the base. Worth doing at least once. I'll have to forget about how my knees feel today before I do something like this again...

hiking
28 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike. Really enjoyed it. Fairly difficult. Started at 10 am and finished about 5pm (7 hours). Last mile or so is pretty rough. Really had to dig in to get up there but totally worth it. Quick trip to the parking lot. Not too cold. Long sleeve shirt will suffice if you are not a wimp. Bring lots (3-4 lifters) of water, hopefully in a camelback. Also bring some snacks and maybe a gatorade for cramps if you get any. All in all beautiful hike. Much harder than Griffith peak.

hiking
1 month ago

Bring lots of water, a full meal, good shoes, good socks and an extra pair, and expect it to get very cold and windy.
If you can make it to the summit then this is something you must experience. The first few miles are colorful plants and pine trees. The Meadows offer a beautiful long distance view followed by miles of trees that were burned a few years ago. The final mile before the summit is difficult but worth it.
The way back down is much easier.

hiking
1 month ago

Only did a little of this trail - too late in the day to go further. Loved the part I did and hope to be back to hike more of it. Had trekking poles and was glad I did. It's steep.

2 months ago

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

2 months ago

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3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

backpacking
3 months ago

Challenging yet rewarding hike! The first 4.5 miles is an aggressive uphill climb to the ridge, but after that the trail smooths out along the ridge and meadow. Be sure to save some energy for the last climb up to the peak! I made this an overnight trek and camped out on top of the meadow. Plenty of space to set up camp and incredible sunset and stargazing!

hiking
3 months ago

If you're planning on hiking this out and back in one day - start early. Bring plenty of water, energy snacks and invest in a good pair of hiking boots and socks as you'll be asking your feet to do a lot - almost 17 miles. From upper parking lot trail head to the summit and back it took me 9.5 hrs including breaks and 1/2 hr lunch at the summit. Definitely, a challenging hike in terms of stamina and fitness, but well worth the effort.

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

incredible journey takes you through several different ecosystems including a burn zone, ancient bristlecones, alpine meadows, aspen groves and juniper forests. Worth the effort.

hiking
4 months ago