Cottonwood Springs - Pinto Valley Wilderness Area

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This page last updated on 02/03/2018
(Fig. 01) Looking Northwest towards the Mud Mountains
(Fig. 02)
Directions: The location for this hike is northeast of Las Vegas along Northshore Road in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. From the Stratosphere Casino head northeast on Las Vegas Blvd about 3 miles and turn right to merge onto US-93/95. Go 12.5 miles and Merge onto NV-564 E/W Lake Mead Pkwy via Exit 61B. Heading east on NV-564 (Lake Mead Blvd) go over the mountains to the park entrance station. Pay the entrance fee ($5 per car or an annual pass), and proceed to the T-intersection with Northshore Road (NV 167) and Lakeshore Road (NV 166). Bear left and drive north on Northshore Road (NV 167) for 18 miles, approximately .2 miles past mile marker 18 (see map in Fig. 02 above) to a roadside trashcan pullout on the left side of the road.

Historic Photo
Description This roadside pullout provides access to Cottonwood Spring, Hamblin Peak, Razorback Wash South, Razorback Wash North, and Pinto Valley to the south, and the Bowl of Fire (Southwest) to the north. With an elevation of only a little over 100 feet, this easy Cottonwood Spring hike is a 2.10 mile out and back trail. This peaceful hike follows a wash down to a spring and a couple of cottonwood trees*, from which the spring got its name. Unfortunately the spring is usually dry. However, the water table is only about a foot below ground level and you can see evidence of local animals that have dug down into the sand to reach water. *Note: During the summer of 2017, flash-floods washed away the cottonwood trees that stood in front of the spillover near the spring.

12/21/2017 Trip Notes:  Today Bob Croke and I decided to hike this trail after making a decision not to hike in the Red Rock park due to the 20-40 mph winds. Due to the protection from the sides of this deep wash kept up protected from the winds almost the whole time we hike. However, whenever we hike up out of the wash, the winds were still quite strong. Taking the fairly well marked use-trail leading south from the trailhead, just 100 feet west of the turnoff, you can see how deep this wash is in Figures 01 and 03. As we wound our way up the wash (Figs. 04 & 05), there we sever instances of dead willow trees and other shrubs (Fig. 06) that had washed down the wash during the flood this past summer. When we reached the halfway narrows (See Fig. 02) we came upon a low, fairly smooth, yellow-brown wall on the left side of the wash (Fig. 07). It was full of fossils such as oyster or mussel shells, snail shells, worm tracks, and other identified things (Figs. 08 & 09). At the middle point of this wall, there is a little wash that comes down the hillside and cuts a notch in the wall. Up in this notch, about 20 feet from the bottom of the wash, there are some great examples of "fossilized" ripple marks of an ancient sea floor. There are even more examples a little further up the wash on the left (Figs. 10 & 11). After climbing to the top of this notch we had the nice views seen in (Figs. 12 & 13). (Notes con't below)
(Fig. 03) Looking South toward the Hamblin Mountain
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)

(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09)

(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11) Bob Croke's Picture

(Fig. 12) Looking North back toward the Muddy mountains.
(Fig. 13) Looking South up the narrows and Cotton Springs wash
Notes Continued: Continuing up the wash it was quite narrow in some places (Fig. 14). After leaving the narrows, Being ever observant, Bob noted two sets of tracks (probably big horn sheep) coming down the side of the wall of the wash (Fig. 15). Finally we reached the area of the spring that was full of small trees and heavy brush to the right of the wash (Fig. 16). To the left the wash was blocked with a 12 foot spill-over (Fig. 17). Bob climbed up to see what the view was on the other side (Fig. 18). The picture in (Fig. 19) is looking  back down the wash from the top of the fill-over and the picture in (Fig. 20) is of Bob climbing back down. I took a use trail off to the right of the wash that led to yet another large was that was actually an alternate route to Hamblin Mountain. The picture is (Fig. 21) is a view looking back toward the Cottonwood Wash. Walking the left side of the Cottonwood wash just a hundred yards north of the spring there is an old steel trough (Fig. 22). You can see in the collage that a pipe rand back to the mouth of the spring. In one corner of the trough an animal dug down to the water level to get a sip of water. We even observed an occasional bird while walking around the area of the spring (Fig. 23). To read more about this bird go to ... Long Crested Stellers Jay.
(Fig. 14)
(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)
(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18) Bob Croke's Picture
(Fig. 19) Bob Croke's Picture
(Fig. 20)

(Fig. 21) Side wash to Hamblin Mountain
(Fig. 22)

(Fig. 23)