It could come as a shock to most people that the state of Nevada, famous for the glittering desert lights of Las Vegas, is home to some of the most unique and breathtaking hiking trails. There are hidden gems of sparkling rivers, lakes, and even some forests amid the arid landscape.
Nevada has various unique and awe-inspiring hiking trails for you to explore. With a diverse range of landscapes, you can hike breathtaking mountain peaks, multiple national parks, and striking desert regions. The temperatures in Nevada can be extreme, so preparation before any hike is essential.
With so many hiking trails available, it is crucial that you research which kinds would be suitable for your fitness and experience level. The distance, estimated hours, temperatures, and elevation of the individual trails should help you choose the perfect hike.
Top 10 Hiking Trails In Nevada
There are so many hiking trails for you to choose from it can be overwhelming at first trying to decide which route you will enjoy most. To help with this decision, below is a list of the top ten places for hiking in Nevada.
Historic Railroad Trail, Lake Mead
If you’re searching for a hiking trail that is not only unique in its beauty but in its historical background as well, then look no further than the Historic Railroad Trail at Lake Mead. In 1935
the filling of Lake Mead happened after the completion of the Hoover Dam.
The only accessible section today of the 30-mile Hoover Dam Railroad tracks that are not entirely underwater is the 3.7 mile-long Historic Railroad Trail. Along the flat dirt and gravel trail that stands above the shores of Lake Mead, you can expect to see breathtaking views of the dark blue water accompanied by a backdrop of surrounding mountains.
During the hike, visitors pass through five tunnels, which span 25 feet in diameter and are 300 feet long. These tunnels burrowed into the rugged rock and were created for the large equipment needed to construct the dam.
The Historic Railroad Trail is rated as an easy hike, as it is only 3.7 miles long and is relatively flat the entire way. Along the trail, you can see the Lake Mead Marina below and watch the boats and people enjoying a day on the lake.
The hike usually takes an average of 2-3 hours to complete. Although it is primarily flat, you should pack enough water to stay hydrated and remember to begin in the early morning so you can avoid the brutal heat of the midday sun.
Fire Wave Trail, Valley Of Fire State Park
If you plan to explore the Valley of Fire state park, look no further than the Fire Wave Trail. It is famous for its beautiful red rock and sandstone formations that line the trail route. This series of rocks gives the illusion of fiery red waves, hence the trail’s name.
Contrary to the usual hiking advice of leaving early in the morning, you’ll want to start your hike in the late afternoon. For an otherworldly experience, stay on the trail until sunset, where you will be able to see the unique glowing red hues of the rocks being illuminated by the sun.
A downside to this trail is that there are no shady spots for resting. So, it is essential to wear plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and to pack enough water to stay hydrated. The hike itself is relatively easy. It spans 1.5 miles (round trip) and is dog-friendly.
The best times to hike the Fire wave Trail is between November and March, while the weather is much cooler, as the sandy trail gets boiling in the summer months. While the heat is uncomfortable for sure, there are also reports that the soles of your shoes can melt due to the heat! So, to avoid melting your favorite hiking boots, it’s best to wait for a cooler time.
Turtlehead Peak, Red Rock Canyon
For someone who loves the outdoors, Red Rock Canyon is the perfect place to get away and out of the bustling city. Turtlehead Peak is a popular choice amongst hikers. It is quite a challenging hike, although the views are entirely worth it once you reach the top.
The hike spans 4.7 miles (round trip) and takes an average of 4-5 hours to complete. While it is a more strenuous hike than others, the panoramic view of the Las Vegas Valley and Red Rock Canyon is certainly worth the effort.
There is parking available at the start of the trailhead, and the hike is also dog-friendly. You’ll gain an elevation of around 1,990 feet. As the temperatures can be pretty extreme, you’ll want to start your hike in the early morning to avoid the blistering heat.
Cathedral Gorge Trails, Cathedral Gorge State Park
The Cathedral Gorge Trails are famous for their unique rock formations. The Cathedral Gorge State Park offers many hiking trails, which offer breathtaking views of the park’s natural features.
It is common to pass chalky-white moonscape terrain and hike through narrow slot canyons along the trails. You can also explore various moon caves. The Cathedral Rock Trail is a 2.7 mile (round trip) with an elevation gain of around 980 feet.
This trail is so popular amongst hikers because it is one of the few places in the world where hikers will be able to spot the Palmer Chipmunk. The trails are relatively easy and child-friendly. Although some spots along the trail have drop-offs of over 500 feet, you will need to keep a close eye on your kids.
The Sierra Canyon Trail, Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
The Sierra Canyon hike is not recommended for beginners. The 10-mile strenuous hike is full of switchbacks and steep inclines, which can be daunting to those who are not regular, avid hikers.
However, the hike is extremely popular. Along the trail, you’ll have fantastic views of the sparkling waters of Lake Tahoe, as well as the scenic Carson Valley. It is easy for those who want a longer hike to join the Tahoe-Rim Trail.
This hike has considerable elevation gain at 4000 feet. As a 20-mile round trip, it’s easy to feel discouraged. However, there are many camping spots along the trail, so there is no need to complete it all at once.
Alpine Lakes Loops Trail, Great Basin National Park
The Great Basin National Park has numerous hiking trails, although the most popular trail for hikers is the Alpine Lakes Loops Trail. This hike is 2.7 miles long, with an elevation gain of 600 feet. It is rated as moderate effort.
Along the trail, you will be able to see sparkling creeks bubbling through the forests, large open meadows, ancient bristlecone pine trees as well as two breathtaking crystalline Alpine Lakes. You can expect some high-elevation impacts along the hike, as it begins at 10,000 feet and climbs to almost 11,000 feet.
If you are an avid hiker and feel like you can go for longer, you can join the 2.8-mile-long Bristlecone Trail after finishing the lake loop, which can be found at the same trailhead. The standard lake loop takes an average of 2-3 hours to complete.
Mount Rose Summit Trail, Mount Rose
With magnificent views of Washoe Valley, Lake Tahoe, Reno, and the Truckee Meadows – it’s no wonder that the Mount Rose Summit Trail is so famous. At 11,000 feet, Mount Rose is the tallest mountain in Washoe County.
It takes roughly 3-4 hours on average to complete the loop, and along the trail, you can expect to see plenty of wildflowers in the warmer seasons, sparkling streams, and a breathtaking waterfall.
The trail loops at 10.5 miles, and there is an elevation gain of 2,290 feet. The hike requires a moderate amount of effort, with a particularly strenuous section near the peak. However, the view from the top is definitely worth the effort.
Goldstrike Hot Springs Trail, Boulder City
During the night and in the winter months, the temperatures in the desert can drop drastically. This usually makes for a perfect time to visit the nearest hot springs. The Goldstrike Hot Springs Trail is not for the faint-hearted and is rated as difficult by even the most avid hikers.
This strenuous trail spans 6 miles (round trip) and has two different trail options to choose from, although both trails are very steep. Once you reach the peak, the reward of sitting in the relaxing natural springs is well worth the effort.
For the more adventurous hikers, there are ropes that you can climb down to the Colorado River below. It is advised to watch out for snakes along this hike, as they can hide in crevices or like to sunbathe along the trail.
Hunter Creek Trail, Toiyabe National Forest
With the trailhead starting close to town, the Hunter Creek Trail is rated by hikers as moderately difficult. The trail spans 5.7 miles (round trip) and has an elevation gain of around 1,210 feet.
Even though you may have to put in a bit more effort, the Hunter Creek Trail is undoubtedly going to be worth your while. With a 30-foot waterfall, majestic old pine trees, and the relaxing sound of running water along the path – it’s no wonder that this particular hike is so popular.
The hike, on average, takes around 2-3 hours. It is essential to stay hydrated and pack enough water – until the trail reaches the forest, there is little to no shade along the route. The waterfall is situated halfway through the trail.
Tahoe Rim Trail, Lake Tahoe
For those die-hard hikers who have been training all year, the Tahoe Rim Trail can take anywhere between ten and twelve days to complete. At 165 miles of trail that loops around the entire Lake Tahoe, this hike is definitely off the table for beginners.
Even though it is pretty challenging, what makes it so popular is that the trail loops entirely around one of the most scenic lakes in the Western United States – Lake Tahoe. You can expect not only to see other hikers, but there may be horseback riders as well as mountain bikers on the trail.
A slight stretch of trail in the north is open to horseback riders, and about half of the course is open to mountain bikers. The average time taken to complete the loop is around nine days. The trial association website has maps galore that will keep you from getting lost.
Nevada Hikes: Entry Fees
As some of the hikes are located inside national and state parks, there may be an entrance fee that you are unaware of. After planning and prepping for an excellent hike, the last thing you would want is not to be allowed to enter the park where your trail is situated. Below is a table of the different parks and their entry fees.
|Lake Mead National Recreation Area||Historic Railroad Trail||$25 Per Day|
|Valley Of Fire State Park||Fire Wave Trail||$10 Per Vehicle|
|Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area||Turtlehead Peak||$15 Per Vehicle|
|Cathedral Gorge State Park||Cathedral Gorge Trails||$5 Per Day|
|Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park||The Sierra Canyon Trail||$10 Per Vehicle|
|Great Basin National Park||Alpine Lakes Loop Trail||No Entry Fee|
|Toiyabe National Forest||Mount Rose Summit Trail||$20 Per Day|
|Lake Mead National Recreation Area||Goldstrike Hot Springs Trail||$25 Per Day|
|Toiyabe National Forest||Hunter Creek Trail||$20 Per Day|
|Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park||Tahoe Rim Trail||$10 Per Vehicle|
Hiking Clubs In Nevada
One of the best safety tips for hikers is to always hike in groups of four or more people in case of an emergency. If you struggle to find friends and family who share your passion for outdoor adventures, there’s no need to worry, as most local hiking clubs would be happy to welcome you.
Tahoe Rim Trail Association
The Tahoe Rim Trail Association club is a volunteer-based non-profit organization that specializes in organizing events for hard-core hikers who wish to try and master the 165-mile loop around Lake Tahoe. They have a fantastic volunteer program in place, and they offer many programs as well as guided tours on-trail.
Carson Valley Trails Association
The Carson Valley Trails Association is a non-profit organization that is entirely volunteer-based. They work with partnering organizations to provide public access to many beautiful recreational hiking trails for you and your future generations to enjoy.
The Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is another non-profit organization that gathers avid hikers in the local area to join their hiking events and explore the trails together. There are meetings about the different events hosted and plenty of groups that all hike various trails ranging in difficulty.
Although famous for its city of Las Vegas, Nevada actually boasts some of the best hiking trails in the United States. With such a range of diversity over the state, you can opt for any scenery – and difficulty – that you want. The Tahoe Rim Trail is a top-rated destination for die-hard hikers looking for a real challenge.