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Little Virgin Peak
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Little Virgin Peak
Little Virgin Peak
Trailhead parking along Gold Butte Road (view W)

Overview

Little Virgin Peak (3,514 ft) is a nice little peak that stands in the morning shadow of "big" Virgin Peak. For residents of Mesquite, this peak makes a nice morning hike, but for others, it is too short for a destination hike. In that case, however, it makes a nice add-on hike for visitors to Gold Butte National Monument.

Even though the peak is low, easy, and only 2-miles round-trip, the peak stands high above the surrounding terrain and the 360-degree views from the summit are surprisingly grand. The hike also runs through a rocky cactus garden in the Mojave Desert Scrub, with nice examples of several species of southern Nevada cactus.

Link to hiking map.

Little Virgin Peak
Starting up the ridge between Joshua trees (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe and easy hike, but the area is wild and remote, so be careful because even a twisted ankle could be a serious problem when help is far away.

Make no mistake; going out to Gold Butte National Monument is going to wild and remote country. This is not a walk in the park; this is an adventure. Be prepared. Take food and water (lots of it during warm weather), make sure your spare tire is in good shape, and take everything that you might need to survive a night stranded with your vehicle. Law enforcement occasionally patrols the area. Cell phones get out from some places, but don't count on it.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though the hike is short, the area is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Little Virgin Peak
Much of the ridge has white quartz rock (pegmatite)

Getting to the Trailhead

Little Virgin Peak is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 1.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

From Las Vegas, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument and head south on the paved Gold Butte Road. From Highway 170 at Gold Butte Road, drive south for 13.8 miles. As the road crosses the saddle between Big and Little Virgin peaks, watch for a wide spot on the right shoulder of the road adjacent to the toe of Little Virgin Ridge. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Little Virgin Peak
Buckhorn cholla and pegmatite rock on the ridgeline

Hiking Guide

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route starts up the ridge adjacent to the road. Winding among Joshua Trees, rocky outcrops, and myriad cactus, the route climbs onto a highpoint (Wpt. 02). Dropping slightly and following the ridge westward, the route runs through a low point on the ridge (Wpt. 03) with a large cairn marking some old mining claim. Continuing up the ridgeline, the route again winds among rocky outcrops and cactus until gaining the summit, which has a large cairn but no summit register.

Views from the summit (photos from the summit) include Mt. Charleston, the Sheep Range, the Muddy Mountains, the Mormon Mountains, Big Virgin Peak, and high peaks to the south. Between these are glimpses of mountains far off in Utah and Arizona, and maybe even California.

Return to the trailhead (photos of the descent) by following your footprints back down the ridge.

Little Virgin Peak
Pineapple Cactus and Pricklypear Cactus
Little Virgin Peak
Banded metamorphic rock on ridge
Little Virgin Peak
Rocks and cactus approaching highpoint (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers approaching the first highpoint (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Highpoint (view W along ridge to summit)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers continuing past the first highpoint (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers on ridgeline past highpoint (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Cactus and hikers on ridgeline past highpoint (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Hiker at large mining claim marker cairn on saddle (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Hiker at large mining claim marker cairn (view W; 12/2015)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers departing damaged mine marker cairn (view W; 04/2017)
Little Virgin Peak
Ridgeline (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
California Barrel Cactus on ridgeline (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Ridgeline (view W)
Little Virgin Peak
Garnets in the bedrock
Little Virgin Peak
Garnets in the bedrock (zoom)
Little Virgin Peak
Steep final ridgeline (view NW)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers on the ridge (view NW)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers on the ridge (view NW)
Little Virgin Peak
Crazy banding in the layered metamorphic rock
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers on the ridge (view NW)
Little Virgin Peak
Black Ridge (first view west over summit ridge)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers approaching the summit (view N)
Little Virgin Peak
Approaching the summit (view N)
Little Virgin Peak
Arriving at the summit (view N)
Little Virgin Peak
Hikers on the summit (view N)
Little Virgin Peak
Summit views are grand (view N)
Little Virgin Peak
Hiker descending off the summit (view S)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 749650 4054224 2,777 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Highpoint on Ridge 749283 4054199 3,013 0.28 0.28 GPS
03 Saddle with Cairn 749076 4054105 2,968 0.15 0.43 GPS
04 Little Virgin Peak 748388 4054225 3,514 0.53 0.96 GPS
01 Trailhead 749650 4054224 2,777 0.96 1.92 GPS

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170924

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