A beginner’s guide to hiking in Las Vegas

Dominic Lavoie/UNLV Free Press

If this semester is your first time experiencing the weather in Vegas, you’ll soon start to see the temperatures drop to low 70 degrees and the sun begins to set much sooner. At the same time, various hiking trails and camping sites begin to open up as summer comes to a close. 

Whether you were a seasoned hiker back home, or just starting out on your very first hike, here are some tips to keep in mind as you make your way to the trails this fall season, as well as a few good places to start off. 

It is always recommended to download the All Trails app on both the iOS App Store and Google Play Store. This app has over 20 million users and 100,000 trails that are searchable based on difficulty, length, elevation gain, type of route and ratings based on users. 

This app is a must-have when you start planning out group hikes or more intense hikes. It also lets users review the trails which keeps others up to date on changes to the trail itself, such as a path being blocked off or a suggestion on which paths to take during a route. Here are some of my favorite hikes in Vegas.

Mary Jane Falls is a popular trail that is located near Mt. Charleston and ends with a waterfall. While it is steep, there are plenty of rest stops on the way and the view is very worth it. It is only a four mile hike but give yourself about two hours to complete it. It can be very busy on weekends and people bring their dogs to this trail.

In Red Rock Canyon we have the beginner-friendly Calico Tanks Trail. This one is only 2.5 miles long but you will be following beautiful sandstone formations throughout the hike. All culminating in a great view of the Las Vegas Strip. There are very few uphill climbs on this one. 

A local favorite has to be the Gold Strike Hot Springs Trail. As you can probably guess, this trail leads to a hot spring and is located in Lake Mead. This trail is considered difficult as the path can get steep and you will have to use rope to climb in some sections of it. It is six miles, but I would consider taking all day on this due to the difficulty of it. Incredibly fun with gorgeous views of the canyon, you cannot beat a lunch and a dip in the hot springs at this trail.

I asked Francine Summerville, Graduate Assistant of Outdoor Adventures, for some tips to keep in mind when it comes time to head to the trail. She said, “Check the weather the day of. As we know, Las Vegas weather tends to change on a dime and sometimes that can affect our plans. Make sure to check for wind and chance of precipitation and dress accordingly.”

“Make sure to bring the essentials,” said Summerville. “Make a list and check it twice. Some of the essentials I bring with me on every hike include items like a compass or map, a headlamp, sunscreen, a first aid kit that includes insect repellent, a knife, waterproof matches, extra food and extra water. Test out what works best for you depending on the difficulty and duration of your hike, but remember it’s better to over prepare than under prepare.

Footwear is such an important lard of hiking. Summerville stated,“Wear proper shoes. Tennis shoes that are broken in and comfy work, but the longer and more strenuous the hike, the more likely you should invest in proper hiking shoes.

Summerville also discussed the golden rule of hiking so to speak. The importance of leaving no trace behind is something that hikers live by. Picking up any trash, whether it be yours or not, is just a small step that hikers can take to make sure the trails stay pristine.

“Las Vegas has some of the most gorgeous trails available for all skill types and now is the perfect time to get out and get some fresh air”. Summer stated,”Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the outdoors and can be one of the most rewarding experiences.” 

UNLV’s own Student Wellness and Recreation Center has an Outdoor Adventures group that has hiking trips, camping, canoeing and a myriad of other outdoor activities planned for fall and spring. These activities are led by leaders with years of experience and are a great way to experience the outdoors with your fellow students. 
For more information on Outdoor Adventures such as workshops and planned hiking trips, you can visit https://www.unlv.edu/campusrec/outdoor-adventures or contact Summerville.


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