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One final full day in Nevada. Decided to check out the Mount Charleston area if for no other reason it will be a good primer for future visits. Honestly though I don’t need any logic to pick a place like this: mountains, waterfalls, and within a national forest. It checks all the boxes.
Vegas area was on long streak with no precipitation but my radar showed possible snow in the mountains (go figure I can bring storms to the desert). December snow in Nevada doesn’t concern me one bit – time to hit the trails!
Desert View Overlook
Because I woke so early, I actually arrived before the visitor center opened and couldn’t yet get a map. So I took a short drive up the mountainside and found the Desert View Overlook. According to the signs it was only a short 3/4 mile paved walk but offered amazing views across the valley.
A short but vertically demanding hike takes you to a cave/overhang called Robbers’ Roost (named as a hideout for horse thieves in the late 19th century). Distance is also a short 3/4 mile but you gain over 300 feet elevation in that span.
The end of the marked trail enters a slot canyon blocked by huge rocks and logs which becomes nearly impassable (at least for a solo hiker like me it would be stupid to attempt alone). This area though is famous for rock climbing and you can find plenty of anchors already drilled into the cliffs. From here you can see the mountain road which looks tiny in the distance.
Mary Jane Falls
One of the big reasons pulling me to Mount Charleston was the Mary Jane Falls hike. Met a few people travelling who suggested this spot for the breathtaking views and a huge waterfall coming from the mountainside. No further sales pitch required, lets go! From the trailhead, the path gets more rugged the further you go. It’s all uphill until you reach the falls.
Due to the dry weather, falls were only a trickle. Temperatures at the top fell at least 20 degrees from the mountain base and were hovering in the upper 30s/low 40s – chilly even for me. Water had turned to ice at the falls runoff area. There is a small rock ledge/cave that you can climb in – notice the nearby people for scale.
Remember that radar screenshot? Some of the precipitation was beginning to find it’s way near the falls but only presented as very light flurries while I was there. Wish I could have stayed for some actual accumulation but no guarantees because it’s so dry here.
Back to the car I head, exhausted from a long week. My final views down the valley are well worth the effort. Time to head back home and start planning for spring.
Desert View Overlook is super easy and all paved (if my memory is correct I believe it was wheelchair accessible). Short walk, rewarding views.
Robbers Roost I would call a more moderate hike due to the rapid elevation gain. Not difficult if you pace yourself but likely prohibitive for those with weaker ankles/knees.
Mary Jane Falls hike is honestly the first one that really kicked my ass. I have never had knee pain in my life until I was done with this one – highly suggest trekking poles if you have them. Between the elevation and uneven rocks this one will give you a workout at any physical fitness level. 100% would go back and do it again though!Lat = 36.2571869 , Long = -115.6427917 -- Show at Google Maps