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Black Mountain Overlook Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Bootleg Canyon
Black Mountain Overlook Trail
River Mountain "Foot" Trail
Highway 93 trailhead kiosk (Wpt. 01)


This great trail is located in Boulder City, just outside the border of Lake Mead NRA. This trail is actually more of an extension to the River Mountains "Foot" Trail than a separate trail in its own right, but road access to near the summit of Red Mountain provides an alternate trailhead that makes Black Mountain Overlook accessible to far more people.

Thus, there are two ways to start this trail: hiking 2.8 miles up from Boulder City or driving up the backside and hiking about 0.7 miles to the summit. Either way, the trail leads to Black Mountain Overlook, which provides grand views out over Boulder City and lands to the east and south across Nevada and Arizona.

Link to map or elevation profile.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail
Sign at top of River Mt Hiking Trail (Wpt. 07)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a fairly safe hike. There are some places where a hiker could stumble off the trail near the crest of the mountains, but there are no unusual hazards on this trail. The Black Mountain area is part of the Bootleg Canyon Bicycle Trail System, so be sure to watch for bikers careening down the trail.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this hike is fairly short, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail
Top of River Mt. Foot Trail (Wpt. 07)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in the Bootleg Canyon Area in Boulder City, just west of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area Visitor Center, about 45 minutes southeast of Las Vegas.

There are two trailheads: one at the foot of the mountains in Boulder City (Highway 93 Trailhead), and one at a parking lot high on the backside of Red Mountain (Red Mountain Trailhead). In either case, from Las Vegas, drive out to Boulder City and Bootleg Canyon.

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Drive-up trailhead on Red Mountain (Site 1024)

For the Highway 93 Trailhead, from the stoplight and left turn on Highway 93 near downtown Boulder City (Table 1, Site 0802), turn left and continue eastbound on Highway 93 for 0.7 miles. Watch for a large brown "River Mountain Trail Parking" sign and left turn (Site 1016) onto a short access road that leads to a parking lot with spaces for 25 vehicles. Park here; this is the Highway 93 trailhead.

For the Red Mountain Trailhead, from Highway 93 in Boulder City, turn left onto Yucca Street (Site 1021), which is about 0.6 miles before getting to the stoplight and left turn on Highway 93. Watch for "Bootleg Canyon Trails" signs. From Yucca Street, turn right onto Industrial Road and then left onto Canyon Road, which leads to the Red Mountain Trailhead. Park here; this is the drive-up trailhead.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail
Drive-up Trailhead, north side (Wpt. 11)

The Hike

From the walk-up trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 1), the River Mountains "Foot" Trail runs past the kiosk and picnic table running northwest between a cement-lined flood control channel and a housing development.

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Hikers on Black Mountain Overlook Trail (view east)

At the edge of the housing development, the trail bends to the left and runs more-or-less west past a flood control retention basin, then continues northwest into the desert heading towards the canyon that separates Red and Black mountains. Follow the trail up the canyon all the way to the end of the River Mountains "Foot" Trail atop the saddle between Red and Black mountains (Wpt. 07). For details of this trail, see the description of the River Mountains "Foot" Trail.

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Trail Junction

From the drive-up trailhead, there is no sign, but the trail starts down the hillside from the northeast corner of the parking area (Wpt. 11). As can be seen from the trailhead, the trail runs down the hillside to the intersection with the River Mountains "Foot" Trail (Wpt. 07) and a bit farther, another trail intersection (Wpt. 08).

At the first trail intersection, a trail sign indicates that the Red Mountain Trail runs uphill to the west, while the Black Mountain Trail runs downhill to the east. This actually is the beginning of these two trails. From here at the trail intersection (Wpt. 07), the Black Mountain Trail continues east and down the hillside.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail

About 100 yards farther down the trail, the trail forks (Wpt. 08). A bicycle trail goes left (north) and down the hill, while the Black Mountain Trail goes right and up the hill (east). The first sign here reads: "River Mtn Hiking Trail, No Bicycles." The second sign starts: "Foot Traffic Only..."

Follow the foot trail eastward as it slowly climbs toward Black Mountain Overlook. The trail runs around a hill on the ridge and comes up to a nice overlook with views down into the canyon below, the trail coming up the canyon, and Boulder City in the distance. Keep an eye out for Mojave Pineapple Cactus on the south-facing hillside; they look like spiny pineapple or little barrel cactus.

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Black Mountain Overlook Summit (Wpt.

Continuing upward, the trail switchbacks to the right, then in about 110 feet, switchbacks to the left (Wpt. 09) at a spot where bedrock makes the switchback somewhat obscure, but a well-defined trail continues straight. If you miss the switchback, the trail continues about 50 feet to an overlook. Enjoy the view overlook Boulder City, then walk about 50 foot; from this direction, the switchback is obvious.

The vegetation near the summit is typical Mojave Desert Scrub dominated by creosote bush and other common plants, but also keep an eye out for Heermann's Buckwheat, an odd, brain-shaped plant that is fairly uncommon. During spring, watch for the blue daisy flowers of Desert Aster and the red flowers of Littleleaf Ratany.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail

The trail winds around, then switchbacks up the steep west face to the overlook (Wpt. 10). It strikes me a funny that the CCC built a beautiful trail all the way, but then in the last 10 vertical feet, they said the heck with it and turned straight up the hillside.

There is a nice bench on the summit where hikers can sit and enjoy the view to the north of the actual Black Mountain Summit, as well as River Mountain, for which the mountain range was named.

Also on the summit are two displays with information about geology. One display has information about the Spring Mountains (view to the west), but the picture on the sign is drawn with north and south reversed relative to the view, so it is a bit confusing. The other sign has geologic information about the River Mountains, Lake Mead, and Wilson Ridge across the river in Arizona.

Black Mountain OverlookTrail

The overlook is a great place to sit, relax, and take in the grand scene. To the north is Las Vegas, to the east is Lake Mead, to the south is Boulder City, and to the west are the Black Mountains. In all direction, mountain ranges stretch off into the distance.

When ready to head down, follow your footprints back down the trail. While doing so, consider hiking up to Red Mountain Overlook, which is another 0.8 miles, round-trip, from the drive-up trailhead.

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

Site # Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0802 Hwy 93 at Stoplight in Boulder City 35.97418 114.84526 694284 3983031 2,460 Yes
1016 Hike-up Trailhead 35.98371 114.84151 694599 3984096 2,423 GPS
1021 Hwy 93 at Yucca St. 35.96959 114.85416 693493 3982504 2,435 GPS
1022 Bootleg Canyon Road at River Mt Loop Tr 35.98223 114.85735 693174 3983900 2,670 GPS
1023 Bootleg Canyon Park 35.98377 114.86138 692807 3984063 2,732 GPS
1024 Bootleg Canyon Road Drive-up Trailhead 35.99882 114.86019 692877 3985734 3,396 GPS

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27, UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
07 Top of Canyon 692969 3985836 3,295 0.00 0.00 GPS
08 Trail Intersection 692960 3985887 3,268 0.03 0.03 GPS
09 Trail Intersection 693193 3985943 3,343 0.21 0.24 GPS
10 Black Mt Overlook (summit) 693515 3985937 3,526 0.36 0.60 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120425

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