One of my July Hikes 07/18/2012

Cathedral Rock
E-P1130144The week of 16 July, Harvey Smith and I spent the week camping, four-wheeling, and hiking within the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area. We camped at the  Kyle Canyon Campground . Over the course of three days we hiked two well known trails, Mary Jane Falls and Cathedral Rock, as well a couple of lesser known areas, each of which provided hiking and photographic opportunities that were new to both of us. The hike highlighted here to Cathedral Rock provided the best views of any hike we’ve been on anywhere in this area. We spent more than four hours hiking this trail and absorbing the visual beauty in every direction. Check it out here … Cathedral Rock at Mt. Charleston.


One of my July Hikes 07/17/2012

Kyle Canyon Slots
E-P1000176The week of 16 July, Harvey Smith and I spent the week camping, four-wheeling, and hiking within the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area. We camped at the  Kyle Canyon Campground . On day two we hiked to the Kyle Canyon Slots. I found this place by accident when doing some random searching on the Internet. We both remarked about how many times we had driven by this location and didn’t have a clue as to what was here. Making two trips here, we spent more than four hours hiking and 4x4 wheeling around this area. There are literally miles and miles of roads here for 4x4 wheeling, ATVs and dirt biking. Check it out here … Kyle Canyon Slots at Mt. Charleston.


One of my July Hikes 07/16/2012

Mary Jane Falls
E-P1000157The week of 16 July, Harvey Smith and I spent the week camping, four-wheeling, and hiking within the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area. We camped at the  Kyle Canyon Campground. Over the course of three days we hiked two well known trails, Mary Jane Falls and Cathedral Rock, as well a couple of lesser known areas, each of which provided hiking and photographic opportunities that were new to both of us. We made the hike highlighted here to Mary Jane Falls on the first day, thinking it best to get the most difficult hike out of the way. We spent more than four hours hiking this trail, exploring caves, taking pictures and absorbing the beautiful views in nearly every direction. Check it out here … Mary Jane Falls Hike at Mt. Charleston.

Mary Jane Falls Hike at Mt. Charleston

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Fig. 01
Mary Jane Falls Cover
Mary Jane Falls Map
07/16/2012 Trip Notes: The week of 16 July, Harvey Smith and I spent the week camping, four-wheeling, and hiking within the Mt. Charleston Recreation Area. We camped at the  Kyle Canyon Campground . On the first day we hiked to Mary Jane Falls. The morning was somewhat overcast with threatening rain clouds, making picture taking a little difficult. Fortunately, there was only a light shower on the hike down that only lasted for a minute of so.The first 1/3 – 1/2 mile of this hike is at a slight incline along a trail of crushed rock. At the end of this, you will find a sign that reads “trail” at the base of the switchbacks. As you hike the trail up the ten or so switchbacks you will see towering Ponderosa Pines, White fur and Aspen trees in the canyon below. On the way up we were passed by a couple of trail work crews (Figs. 2 & 3). At the top of the switchbacks you begin walking some very rocky steps carved along the base of the towering gray limestone headwall that can be seen far above. This walk provides some amazing views of Kyle Canyon below. As your breathing becomes even more labored, you suddenly you realize that you are more than 9,000 feet above sea level. When you reach the area of the falls and look up (Fig. 04) and out over Kyle Canyon (Figs. 01, 05, & 06), you are in awe at the height of this natural wonder. The views are amazing! In addition, there are 2 caves, 3 small waterfalls and a view of Big Falls, which is located across the canyon.
Fig. 02
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Fig. 04
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Fig. 06
The thistles growing beneath the falls contained dozens of humming birds flying around sipping its sweet nectar (Fig. 07). Besides the caves directly beneath the falls, bottom left of (Fig. 04), there is another interesting cave about 150 yards out on a easy to follow trail that heads south along the base of the cliffs on the west side of the falls. This trail provides some nice southerly views (Fig. 08) of  Kyle Canyon on the way to the cave. This rather large cave (Figs. 09 & 10) has some flowstone, broken cave curtains, and tiny stalactites.To our amazement, on the way to the cave we stumbled upon a patch of hailstones (Fig. 11) that had accumulated from a storm the day before. Harvey rolled up a handful (Fig. 12) into a ‘hailball’.
Fig. 07
Fig. 08
Fig. 09
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Even in the dead of summer, natural springs from far overhead produce water that cascades over the cliffs and down the falls and drips across the entrance of two caves at its base.


Cathedral Rock Hike at Mt. Charleston

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(Fig. 01)

Cathedral Rock

07/18/2012 Trip Notes
  Harvey Smith and I tackled this hike on the last day of a three day camping trip to Mt. Charleston. Advertised as a moderately strenuous 1.5-mile hike, we kept wondering where the moderate part was. There is a substantial 920-foot elevation gain to reach the top of this imposing limestone rock in a relatively short distance. The view in (Fig 01) above of the north face was taken from Kyle Canyon Road, about a half mile before the parking and trailhead area. The shot of the south face in (Fig 02) below was taken from a rest stop just beyond the trail’s halfway point, with nearly 500 feet in elevation gain still left. Fortunately, the views in every direction from the top are superb, making it one of the best vantage points in the Mt. Charleston area and well worth the effort. It really wouldn’t have been too bad if we hadn’t decided to add about another mile by following a trail (yellow trail on map above) that we thought might provide us with a different route down by leading us to the Little Falls Trail. Wrong! It dead ended several hundred feet above and beyond the top of Little Falls, with no way down. As a result we had to walk it all the way back to the intersection of the main trail before we could begin our decent down.
(Fig. 02)
The Hike: As the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area was closed, we had to start the hike from the somewhat harder, lower trailhead just above the free parking area. The trail follows an old road up an avalanche chute along the east side of Cathedral Rock, through a beautiful patch of quaking aspen (Fig. 03 & 04). In winter, repeated avalanches prevent conifer trees from growing here, thus opening the forest and allowing quaking aspen to grow (they bend under the snow). Besides several species of shrubs and wildflowers (Fig.05), I captured some colorful shots of mushrooms (Fig. 06) growing on the side of a tree and some well worn tree stumps (Fig. 07). At the summit we were amazed to find several humming birds skirting the few shrubs that were scattered along its barren top. Surprisingly, for the time of day, we also saw a deer feeding in the aspen forest on the way down. Sorry, couldn’t get a picture.
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(Fig. 07)
After reaching and crossing the saddle behind the summit (the intersection of the yellow and red trail on the above map) the trail climbs steeply through a few short switchbacks (Figs. 8 and 9) that lead to the summit. With the summit reached, there are spectacular views straight down to the picnic area and the lodge, the lower trailhead and parking areas, as well as off to the other peaks in the area including Mummy Mountain, Mt. Charleston and the village of Mt. Charleston (Fig. 10), Echo Cliff (Fig. 11) and the desert and Sheep Range (Fig. 12) far in the distance to the east. After this hike we headed to the lounge at the Mt. Charleston Lodge (bottom left foreground in Fig. 12) for some well deserved 1/2 price appetizers and beers.
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(Fig. 13)
10/14/2012 Trip Notes: Being an absolutely beautiful day for a hike, I climbed Cathedral Rock for the second time this year with my friend, Jim Herring, who was in town on vacation. Though the peak foliage for this area was nearly three weeks ago, I was quite surprised to find that the large patches of aspens here still had some relatively good color. As evidenced by (Figs. 13 thru 15), the trail along the east side of Cathedral Rock passes through a large avalanche chute full of quaking aspen. The view in (Fig.16) was taken at the hikes halfway point. As usual, the views from the summit (Figs. 17 thru 20) were awesome. Once we reached the 8,000 foot elevation level we began to notice patches of snow in the shaded areas (Fig. 18) along the trail. Notice the snow atop Mt. Charleston’s peak in the background of (Fig. 20).
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As is usually the case, there were nearly a dozen Cliff Chipmunks (Figs. 21 thru 24) roaming the top of the rock dome looking for handouts from the hikers that make it to the top. Using some of the cashews I brought along for a snack, we spent nearly a half hour feeding them and capturing pictures as they ate and sometimes carried the nuts to their ‘secret’ hiding places.
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The picture in (Fig. 25) below shows the east face of Cathedral Rock. The view looking east in (Fig. 17) above, was taken from the highest point in the middle of this picture.
(Fig. 25)

The slideshow below is designed to run automatically in place. Placing your cursor on the bottom edge of the picture will bring up the Pause, Forward and Back menu at the bottom of the slideshow window, allowing you to start, stop or manually forward pictures one at a time.

Slideshow Description: The slideshow above contains 65 pictures that were taken on my two hikes to the summit of this rock.

Roadtrip - Kyle Canyon Campground


Kyle Canyon Campground
Campground Overview: Kyle Canyon Campground is located off Kyle Canyon Road in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area about 23 miles from Las Vegas. The campground is set in an open forest of ponderosa pine, mountain mahogany and Gambel oak, which provides partial shade. Manzanita and wild roses dot the landscape. A dry wash which used to be home to a seasonal stream, parallels the highway parallels and the campground. Our site (#2) had good views of the surrounding towering canyon walls. Sites are equipped with a picnic table, campfire ring and grill. Vault toilets (which could have been cleaner) and drinking water are provided. Roads and parking spurs are paved.

07/16/2012 Trip Notes: Even though this is only a 45 minute drive from Las Vegas, I have classified this page as a Roadtrip because Harvey Smith and I turned it into an ‘overnight’ stay by spending four days here camping and taking hikes in the surrounding area. With six campgrounds in this area, we were amazed that there was no place to buy ice or any other camping supplies. Word of warning – make sure you bring everything you need for your length of stay.

In addition to some miscellaneous off-road four wheeling and hiking, we hiked the following daytrip sites: Mary Jane Falls, Cathedral Rock, and Kyle Canyon Slots.  The collage below was made up of pictures taken during our three-day stay at this site.

Kyle Canyon Campground