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Wechech Basin Loop
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Gold Butte National Monument
Wechech Basin Loop
Wechech Road at the end-of-road carsonite sign (view E)

Overview

The Wechech Basin Loop is a nice, but long, 8-mile partial loop hike in the open desert below the Whitney Ridge of Virgin Mountains. The hike runs out washes for about 3 miles, then begins the loop by hiking over three highpoints separated by washes. From the last and highest point (Peak 1008), the route loops back, crossing over one more ridge, before following washes back to the trailhead.

This land is wide open and pretty flat, so the low peaklets provide spectacular views in all directions.

There are no use-trails and no cairns, and although the route finding is easy, using GPS coordinates would be very useful. On the other hand, there is no true destination, so hikers can just head out, loop about, find a nice view, and head back without following any particular route.

Link to hiking map or elevation profile.

Wechech Basin Loop
Barbed-wire fence at end of Wechech Road (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike in a wild and remote place. I encountered no unusual hazards, but be careful when hiking far from the trailhead because it is always hard to carry people out of the backcountry.

This is wild and remote country without services of any kind (no restrooms, no water, no gas, no food). Bring what you need to survive. Be prepared and be self-reliant. It is a big place and someone will find you eventually if you stay on a main road, but be prepared to survive alone for a day or two, or even longer on side roads. Cell phones don't work in Wechech Basin.

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

Wechech Basin Loop
Gate in the barbed-wire fence at end of Wechech Road (view NE)

Getting to the Trailhead

Wechech Basin is located out in Gold Butte National Monument at the northeast end of Lake Mead, about 2-1/2 hours northeast of Las Vegas in a wild, remote, and scenic area.

From town, drive out to Gold Butte National Monument. From the end of the pavement at Whitney Pocket, continue south on the unpaved Gold Butte Road for about 3.9 miles to Mud Wash North Road (Table 1, Site 1649), on the right (watch for directional road signs).

At the intersection, turn left -- away from Mud Wash North Road -- and head up the sandy wash. From the graded road, the wash immediately forks; Wechech Basin Road angles slightly right to follow the south fork. After that, the road runs up the sandy wash 0.7 miles to a barbed-wire fence with an end-of-road carsonite sign (Site 1774). Park here, this is the trailhead.

Wechech Basin Loop
Details of the barbed-wire fence gate (view N)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs northeast up the wash. Hikers can either crawl under the fence or walk east (right) along the fence about 40 yards to a gate (Wpt. 02) beyond the edge of the wash. Unhook the upper wire, step over the lower two wires, then be sure to hook the upper wire back in place.

Back in the wash, the route runs uphill across open country at a very gentle grade. The low hills in the middle-distance, a bit left of center when looking up the wash, are the goal of the day, not the high peaks in the background.

The wash is scenic, the Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation robust, and by about 1 mile out, the wash is running along the base of a low ridge. At 1.4 miles out, hikers arrive at a major fork in the wash (Wpt. 03). The route forks here to begin the loop. Outbound, the route heads up the left (north) fork, and later it returns down the right (east) fork.

Wechech Basin Loop
Hiker in wash about 250 yards out from the trailhead (view NE)

Staying left in the north fork of the wash, the route begins to run northeast across open desert. At about 1.3 miles from the fork by the ridge, hikers arrive at another major fork in the wash. Here, the route stays left (left of the nearby ridge), but hikers can shortcut part of the loop by staying right and heading more directly towards Peaklet 952 (Wpt. 06).

Staying left, the route continues up the wash for another 0.25 miles (Wpt. 04). Here, the route turns abruptly right, out of the wash, and climbs east to the top of the ridge (Wpt. 05). This highpoint provides surprisingly grand views north and west across the broad flats of the Joshua-tree carpeted Wechech Basin. While gazing off to the horizon, hikers should be sure to check underfoot for paleozoic fossils.

After taking in the view, the route continues over and down the other side of the ridge. Heading southeast, the route drops into the wash below, then climbs up the crest of the ridge ahead to gain the summit of Peaklet 952 (Wpt. 06).

Wechech Basin Loop
Hikers in wash in open country 0.4 miles from trailhead (view E)

After taking in the views from Peaklet 952, the route continues down the other side of the ridge, heading east, into the wash below. The wash is followed upstream to a shallow gully that provides relatively easy access, heading south, to the summit of Peaklet 1008 (Wpt. 07).

The views from Peaklet 1008 are grand, as this is one of the highest points on these desert flats. When ready, the route descends the southwest ridge of Peaklet 1008. Near the bottom of the ridge, the route traverses some steep but colorful country as it drops into the major wash below (Wpt 08).

This wash drains eastward into the Grand Wash over in Arizona, so hikers need to climb over one more ridge (Wpt. 09) and drop into the next wash (Wpt. 10) before heading downhill towards the trailhead. This wash runs southwest onto some pretty flat terrain near the base of hills beyond, and hikers need to stay right along the base of the hills to find the fork (Wpt. 03) where the route originally split to form the loop. Now heading west, this wash runs downhill to the trailhead (Wpt. 01).

Wechech Basin Loop
Illegal ATV tracks 0.7 miles out (note low hills ahead; view SE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Hiker in wash along base of low hills (view E)
Wechech Basin Loop
Fork in the wash; the route splits here (view NE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Hikers in wash about 150 yards past the fork (view N)
Wechech Basin Loop
Route crosses gentle country heading for low hills (view NE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Gastropod (similar to clams) fossil in the low hills
Wechech Basin Loop
Gastropod (similar to clams) fossil in the low hills
Wechech Basin Loop
Hikers atop first low ridge (view E)
Wechech Basin Loop
Joshua Tree atop first low ridge (view E)
Wechech Basin Loop
The route ahead (view E from atop first low ridge)
Wechech Basin Loop
Peak 952 (view E towards Peak 1008)
Wechech Basin Loop
Robust desert vegetation (view E along base of Peak 1008)
Wechech Basin Loop
Wash along base of Peak 1008 (view NE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Grand scenery (view NE from side of Peak 1008)
Wechech Basin Loop
Side of Peak 1008 (view SE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Grand scenery during descent from Peak 1008 (view SW)
Wechech Basin Loop
Looking back at hikers descending colorful ridge (view NE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Wash; looking back at colorful ridge (view NE)
Wechech Basin Loop
Hikers climbing over last ridge (view NW)
Wechech Basin Loop
Hikers return to the exit wash (view SW)
Wechech Basin Loop
Exit wash (view SW towards low hills)
Wechech Basin Loop
Exit wash (view SW)
Wechech Basin Loop
Exit wash (view SW along base of low hills)
Wechech Basin Loop
Exit wash (view W)
Wechech Basin Loop
Exit wash (view W)
Wechech Basin Loop
Returning to the trailhead (view NW)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft)
1649 Gold Butte Rd at Mud Wash North Rd 754150 4040226 36.47546 114.16339 2,388
1774 Wechech Basin Trailhead 755130 4039993 36.47310 114.15255 2,435

Table 2. 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)
01 Trailhead 755138 4039994 2,435 0.00 0.00
02 Wire Gate 755173 4039989 2,439 0.02 0.02
03 Wash Forks 757122 4040177 2,611 1.42 1.44
04 Depart Wash 758456 4041988 2,921 1.56 3.00
05 Top of Ridge 758637 4041991 3,019 0.18 3.18
06 Peaklet 952 759072 4041792 3,121 0.28 3.46
07 Peak 1008 759887 4041740 3,307 0.69 4.15
08 Top of Dirt Cliff 759318 4041285 2,935 0.50 4.65
09 Low Ridge 759183 4041356 2,948 0.13 4.78
10 Exit Wash 758987 4041409 2,938 0.13 4.91
03 Wash Forks 757122 4040177 2,611 1.62 6.53
02 Wire Gate 755173 4039989 2,439 1.37 7.90
01 Trailhead 755138 4039994 2,435 0.03 7.93

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 160921

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