Hiking to the Top of Mt. Charleston

A couple of weeks ago, my oldest son and I tried hiking to the top of Mt. Charleston, which is 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas and at nearly 12,000 feet is the highest peak in southern Nevada.  We only made it halfway, but a few days ago I went back and did the whole thing.

I went up the south trail, and down the north trail.  Those are about eight miles each, and with the short hike up the highway to get back to my car, the whole trip was 17 miles.  That took me ten hours (5.5 hours to get up, 4.5 hours to get back down).  I drank seven water bottles during the hike, FYI.  Here are some pictures I took along the way:

I took this picture just to capture that blue sky. The sky never gets that deep of a hue down here in the valley. This is in a meadow at about 10,000 feet.

Looking southwest over rural Nevada from 10,000 feet.

Looking west from about 11,000 feet. You can see the plants getting rougher and more sparse. You know, I’ve lived in Las Vegas my whole life, and until that first hike up here two weeks ago, I had never seen this view.

Yours truly at the summit, just over 11,900 feet. The ammo box has a few notebooks where people sign in and leave messages. It looked like there were between a few and a dozen messages for each day. I wish I’d taken a photo of mine. The line of rocks behind the flag borders a big dugout shelter, perhaps for camping.
It’s pretty cool to look straight ahead and see big rain clouds. It was windy and cold up there, and I was glad I’d packed a light sweater.

A view of the peak without the dweeb in the way…but I forgot that my backpack and hat are still visible.

I took this one on the way down the north trail, at about 11,000 feet again, just because I really like the way the shadows of the clouds looked on the lower slopes.

Near the bottom of the north trail, about 9000 feet. Rain clouds were coming in and I love how they look as they start to descend over the rim of the canyon above me. It made the end of the hike nice and cool, but when I got back to Las Vegas, it was pretty humid.

Rain clouds lowering over the south rim of Kyle Canyon, around 8500 feet, as seen from the north rim.

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3 comments on “Hiking to the Top of Mt. Charleston

  1. Nice Jamie. Like you, I’ve lived in Vegas all my life and hiked the peak for the first time last July. Awesome hike. Those switchbacks up the south trail are relentless. To my surprise, when I got up to the peak, there was a table with a full buffet spread out down in that “bunker” on the peak. One of the local meteorologists had the buffet flown up to the peak via helicopter for everyone hiking the peak that day. It was very unexpected. Love the hike. Views are unbelievable.

  2. My favourite sceneries are 1) the Ocean and 2) the Mountains. There’s something in both that suggests there are still wilderness to conquer.

    But I get the same when I see photos of London, Paris, New York, Rome, Barcelona… any Big Old City. I’m afraid few places in the New World get on that list. First, something like LA is not a city, it’s a bunch of suburbs looking for an identity. New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia & Chicago have the basics down.

    A real city has at least a few blocks of a “down-town area” where you can walk on the pavement, and behave as if you weren’t afraid of other people.

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