About Me

An avid traveler I have had the good fortune to have spent my career in the travel and vacation industry. From Bali to Copenhagen and all points between is where I have been or intend to go. This blog however is specific to the Western half of the United States as I explore this part of the world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mary Jane Falls Hike, Mount Charleston, Las Vegas, NV


Saturday it was overcast in Las Vegas and I decided a perfect time to drive up to Mount Charleston with the dogs for hike.  Mt. Charleston is the local Las Vegas resident's escape from the heat in the summer among other things.  Only a 40 minute drive from my house I can go from 2800 feet and 110 degree weather to nearly 9,000 feet and 75 degree weather and from a martian like landscape to landscape of evergreen and aspen forests, lazy meadows and towering cliffs and in the case of Saturday's hike about 62 degrees with occasional showers.  Perfect.

To get to Mary Jane Falls you simply take 95 North out of Las Vegas and turn left on 157, also known as Kyle Canyon Road.  You follow Kyle Canyon to a split where the road veers into a left hand u curve or continues straight.  Go straight onto what is Echo Rd and when you come to a split, pavement right, gravel left, go up the gravel road until you reach a parking area with facilities.  Park there as this is the head of the Mary Jane Falls Trail.  It starts off mostly fine and large gravel, transitioning to dirt and rock with a long straight away and then several switchbacks and finally one last straight away.

This hike was an opportunity for me to forgo my big hiking boots and try out a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves, a barefoot trail shoe that I recently purchased.  I brought my big boots with me as backup in case barefoot hiking didn't work for me but they weren't needed.  Wow these shoes were comfortable and lightweight.  It almost felt like I was hiking up the trail in my bare feet and my calves were a lot more involved in the hike without the restriction big boots sometimes have on full foot extension. 

So I had my barefoot running and hiking shoes and my Cockers Jazz and Koko had the big bare feet that this breed has and off we went.

Jazz and Koko anxious to get started.
It took about one hour to reach the falls from the head of the trail and that was with water breaks for myself and the dogs.  The first half was nice and gradual, the switchbacks were not so bad and the final climb was probably the steepest.  But you know you are close when you hit the final switchback at the cliff face and can begin to hear the water fall and feel the cool moisture cascading into the canyon.

For hikes in the west I always have my camelback with me so that I make sure I remain hydrated and have extra water for the dogs beyond their own water bottle and travel dish.  I also packed a protein bar and two white peaches that seemed extra tasty and juicy upon reaching the summit. 

From the dry and dusty aroma of Vegas to the peat and evergreen scent that greets you at altitude, Mt. Charleston is truly a welcome and close by escape.  The views are amazing and the trail has a good amount of happy and sociable people getting a bit of fresh air.  I had thought about having the dogs off the leash but after hiking the first few hundred yards it was evident that about every other group had dogs with them and I wanted to avoid any potential problems, most especially on the narrower parts of the trail.

Mary Jane Falls
The falls at the end were a nice treat, still running at a decent volume even for August and I could still see snow tucked away in different nooks and crevices within the cliffs.  Beat the August heat and make your way up to Mount Charleston.  Even if you aren't a hiker, a picnic or lunch at the Mt. Charleston Inn are well worth the trip.

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