Black Mountain

by Marcel on November 5, 2018

When most people think of Las Vegas they think of bright lights and drunken nights, but the city is surrounded by mountains on all sides which make for some great wilderness areas and hiking. We are fortunate enough to live within walking distance to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area which has a nice mountain range full of trails and some ancient petroglyphs. Black mountain can be seen from most places in the valley, and I see it every day when I walk our doggie Mulder. The trailhead is only about a 5 mile drive from our house so it’s pretty convenient. Overall the trail is about 7 miles roundtrip and approximately 2000 elevation gain. Mulder and I attempted this hike last year in the spring, but the last part near the top got a little too steep for the senior doggie dude. Recently I went back alone to make the summit and take some time getting some good photos.

For anyone interested in this trail the parking lot is small with room for only about 5 cars, and its located within a suburb neighborhood. The trail starts out paved for the first half mile or so, then you take a right towards a brick building and from there hike towards the summit where you will see the beginning of the black mountain trail. There are plenty of sites online or guide books that give more detail about the route. The trail is pretty easy for most of the way up with only the last half mile or so being difficult with some mild scrambling involved. You can really do this without using your hands at all but it depends on the route you take at the top since the trail isn’t as clearly defined up there. Be sure to use GPS or an app like strava so you can find your way back down.

The trail includes all the usual desert suspects like creosote bushes, cactus, and half way up the trail you will start to see Joshua trees. There were plenty of lizards, and probably rattlesnakes but I didn’t see any of those today. There were some desert mice living at the summit and after dark you will hear the coyotes howling. I hiked this in mid-October starting late around 3pm, it took just under 3 hours to reach the summit which was not ideal but great for sunset photos. I descended from the summit past the steep part just before complete darkness. From there it was headlamp and flashlight time all the way down. The mountainside is pretty wide open without a lot of brush or trees and I’ve never seen deer in this area so I wasn’t too concerned about mountain lions, but there are mountain sheep in this area so you never know. The bigger concern was snakes and potentially running into a pack of coyotes, but fortunately that didn’t happen. The view of the city lights on the way down was spectacular. With some photo breaks it took about 2 hours to get back down.

Overall this is one of my favorite hikes in the Vegas area. The views of the city are great from the summit and even halfway up the trail. It’s nice to see some Joshua trees so close to the city, even if there are just a few here and there. The summit has great views to the other side of Henderson and all the way to Arizona. There aren’t any petroglyphs on this trail, but nearby Sloan Canyon has a nice loop hike where you see those, however the views of the city aren’t as good from that trail. If you have already been to Lake Mead, Valley of Fire, and Red Rock Canyon then Black Mountain is a great hike to do in the fall or spring.

 

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