Desert Overlook Trail, Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forest
Length: 0.43 miles
Width: 50 inches
Surface type: concrete
Typical grade: 6%
Maximum grade: 11%
Typical cross slope: 1%
The Desert Overlook trailhead is on Nevada Highway 158, northwest of Las Vegas. From the parking lot the trail leads down to a viewpoint on the east side of the Mount Charleston “island in the Sky”, high elevation mountain and alpine areas surrounded by Mojave Desert. Views include Gass Peak, the mountain range to the north of Las Vegas, and toward the Nevada National Security Site where over 900 nuclear bombs were detonated. People used to come up here to watch the mushroom clouds of the atomic blasts. At the end of the trail, educational displays tell the history of nuclear testing, and the biological and geological history of the area.
The trail is located in on the edge of the piñon pine and juniper forest elevation zone with a Ponderosa pine or two at the trailhead, descending to a few mountain mahoganies and ephedra shrubs (Morman tea) at the the overlook.
The trail was constructed to meet U.S. Access Board standards for accessibility and includes switchbacks to reduce grade, and flat landings for rest areas. Concrete was probably designed because of the steep hillside to prevent erosion in a popular, frontcountry trail.
The sign at the trailhead says the distance round trip is 3/4 mile. However, we measured only 0.43 mile round trip. There are four switchbacks. The lowest grade surface in the switchbacks is along the outer edge of the curve. The grade in the inner side of the switchback is much higher, up to 11% in the upper switchback.
The parking lot for this “accessible” trail has one “handicap” parking spot. There are no restrooms here but there is an accessible vault toilet at the Deer Creek picnic area 2 miles to the south on the same road. Hold your nose! No running water.
Submitted by Trail Access Project
Trail assessed July 2016
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