Mt. Charleston via Deer Creek Trail

HARD 39 reviews
#12 of 114 trails in

Mt. Charleston via Deer Creek Trail is a 14.8 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 July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
14.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
6446 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

Mount Charleston is the highest summit in southern Nevada. The hike is all trail (no cross country) and is 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.

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

The snow is gone! Plenty of water at cave spring. Happy trails! Start early to avoid the afternoon T-Storms!

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
2 months ago

Started at 4am at the trail head. The milky way was right over head and it was a little chilly. Made it to the junction with North Loop Trail about sunrise. A great hike from there on out until we came across the massive amounts of snow about a mile from the summit. Had to turn around due to not having crampons or ice axes. Five stars because most of the hiking is over 10k and the scenery is beautiful offering grand vistas to the North, West, and East.

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

Hiked a day ago (5/28/2017) and had to turn around at the 7 mile point (~2 miles short of the summit?) due to extensive snow on the north-facing slopes. We had crampons but decided not to press because the slopes in that area are quite steep/exposed and there's not much to catch you if you slip. Probably needs at least another month for the snow to clear.

2 months ago

2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

I wasn't able to summit because of snow but got within a mile of the top, great hike though,amazing views throughout, this is challenging route, the trail gets very narrow in some spots.

hiking
5 months ago

FYI- This trail shows you coming up Trail Canyon trail to the North Loop trail junction to the peak. You can also go to the peak via North Loop trailhead on Deer Creek Hwy (158).
We do this hike on 4th of July! Views are outstanding, and the trail is a little tough. Will take all day for most and MUST bring plenty of water. Took us about 12 hours with our breaks included. We started at 5am and watched the sunrise and saw a momma deer with her babies on Trail Canyon. Lots of sun and a little shade but nothing too crazy on North Loop. Got the back of my knees and ears sunburned haha! Cave Springs has a trickle of water most times but don't always put faith in that and you have to filter it for sure. Lots of switchbacks up and at the peak, and there are a few cool places to camp for the night to make it a two day trip. If you can, take a little side step off the trail to look over Lee Canyons peak to check out the resort on the other side!

10 months ago

Awesome views! If you want to get away from the Vegas heat come to mt. Charleston

hiking
10 months ago

Very challenging. Camped out on the trail. Switchbacks at end were killer.

hiking
11 months ago

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.

hiking
11 months ago

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.

skiing
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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.

hiking
Sunday, August 14, 2016

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.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

hiking
Saturday, July 16, 2016

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.

hiking
Saturday, July 16, 2016