Today marks the last day of 90-degree weather in Las Vegas --- at least that’s what is forecasted, and I couldn’t be any more excited. Those fall temperatures and vibes are finally here!
One of the many things I hear from people all the time is in reference to the fact that I am a nature lover who lives in the city. Am I out of my element? How does not living where there's landscape not drive me crazy? The truth is, if Las Vegas was, in fact, only the Las Vegas city limits I probably would go mad. The great thing though, is the number of escapes and natural options that surround it, and when it comes to fall, there is no better place to spend the season than enjoying these outdoor areas.
Sure, Las Vegas may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking of fall destinations, and I’ll be the first to admit that the hearty autumn locations of the New England area that are flooding my social media feeds at this time of year have me seriously wanting to head East, but believe it or not, some of my favorite hikes around Las Vegas provide some beautiful scenery to enjoy in the fall season!
As the temperatures duck below 100 and the evening temperatures begin to have a bit of a crisp feel to them, the spectacular fall foliage starts summoning all the autumn vibes, and there are six hikes in particular that always have me feeling all the autumn feels. 🍂
📍1. Cathedral Rock Trail - Mt. Charleston
An amazing hike year-round, Cathedral Rock Trail is a moderately challenging 2.8-mile out-and-back trail that gains 948 feet in elevation. If the drastic incline isn’t your cup of tea however, you’re in luck, as the thick patches of Aspen trees that turn magnificent colors in the fall is near the beginning half of the trail. However, if you do decide to embark on the full trail you’ll be rewarded with not only spectacular views of Kyle Canyon and Mummy Mountain, but you’ll also get overhead views of the Aspens below, which create a beautiful yellow and orange brush stroke along the mountain side.
📍2. South Ash Grove Loop - Spring Mountain Ranch
This loop is an easy 1.4-mile loop that provides such a diverse change in scenery that you can hardly believe it’s all in the same location. From the only naturally-growing grove of Arizona ash trees in Southern Nevada, through traditional Mojave Desert landscape of cactus, brittlebush, Joshua Tree, Mohave Yucca, indigo bush, and more to where the fall vibes really come into play amongst Yerba Mansa plants which turn a brick red color in the cooler months and have a strong musty smell that just screams Fall to me.
In addition to a nice hike and the scenic Autumn desert views, there’s a high chance you’ll see plenty of wildlife including a variety of lizards, chipmunks, jackrabbits, cotton tails, hawks and burros.
📍3. Bristlecone Trail - Mt. Charleston
A gorgeous tree-lined trail, Bristlecone Trail turns into an Autumn paradise the minute the temperatures begin to turn. This moderate 6.3-mile loop has two access points; the Lower Bristlecone trailhead and the Upper Bristlecone trailhead. For the Autumn vibes, Upper Bristlecone is where the beauty lies. The initial gradual ascent is lined by white fir, bristlecone and ponderosa pines, and soon transitions into a quaking aspen grove and all the Autumn vibes. The trail continues beyond the aspen grove and maneuvers between rocky and forest terrain and at about the 3-mile mark a junction provides trail to continue to Lower Bristlecone or branch off and head to Bonanza Trail. However, for those just seeking the Autumn views, the start of the Upper Bristlecone trail is where it’s at. In fact, the aspen grove can also be reach from taking the steep, but short climb, from the Lee Canyon Lodge and enjoyed in less than a half-mile jaunt.
📍4. Calico Basin Red Spring - Red Rock Canyon
For those not interested in much hiking, the Calico Basin’s Red Spring Picnic Area, which is just before the trailhead, is a more established trail with boardwalk walking paths which run overhead of spring runoffs and marshy grassland and are lined with Ash and Cottonwood trees and includes a number of covered picnic areas.
📍5. Overlook Loop - Spring Mountain Ranch
A simple .8-mile loop with 130 feet in elevation gain, the majority of this trail winds through desert landscape and oxide-colored stone, however the full Autumn vibes come into view once you reach the small boardwalk which rests within dense color-changing vegetation and depending on conditions can also include a small pool of water and stream to cross over.
For added Autumn vibes leading into spooky season, the trail also passes the private Wilson Family cemetery which serves as the resting place for several members of one of the property’s early pioneering families.
📍6. Wisdom Tree Trail - Red Rock Canyon
This is an old favorite of mine, mainly because I hiked it so many times and never knew what trail it was and always just referred to it as Calico Basin, a little ironic considering its name. This is an in-and-out trail just outside of the official Red Rock Canyon area, and weaves along the base of the colorful Calico Hills. This runs along Ash Creek Spring and as a result has a number of beautiful Ash trees that serve for capturing beautiful Autumn views and the trail also provides the opportunity for some rock scrambling once you reach Ash Canyon.