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Cholla Forest Loop
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Cholla Forest
Cholla Forest
Hikers at the trailhead (view W)


This hike runs out to a dense grove of Teddybear Cholla, perhaps the northern-most stand of this species in Nevada. This hike can be done as an add-on to a hike through Seven Falls Canyon or Many Falls Canyon, or it can be done by hiking directly using powerline roads.

If the entire loop is hiked, there is one Class 3 pour-over to descend. It is fairly easy, but these things always look worse from above.

This hike is described as an add-on to the Seven Falls Canyon route, therefore it starts at the end of that route, runs out to the cholla forest, makes a loop, and returns to the trailhead via powerline roads.

Link to map.

Cholla Forest
Departing Seven Falls Canyon saddle (view S)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is pretty safe, but the full loop includes one Class 3 pour-over. Be extra careful when high enough to fall and get hurt. A rope probably won't be needed.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. If connecting with other routes, be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Cholla Forest
Descending side hill towards powerline road (view S)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, not far from the Visitor Center and directly up the hill from Boulder Beach.

From town, drive out to the Boulder Beach area at Lake Mead. From Lakeshore Road at Mile Post 2, drive up to the Brown Tank Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Cholla Forest
Hikers approaching powerline (view SW)

The Hike

From the saddle at the head of Seven Falls Canyon (Table 1, Waypoint 13), the route crosses over the saddle and runs southwest following a game trail down into the next canyon. In the bottom of the canyon, the route continues out the side canyon into a broad wash with powerlines.

The route continues to the powerline road, then turns uphill to a fork in the road (Wpt. 50). At the fork, the route turns left, passes an authorized vehicles only sign, and continues southwest. The route runs up the side road, turns a corner to the right, and shortly arrives at the cholla forest (Wpt. 51).

Cholla Forest
Hikers on side road (view SW)

The cholla cactus a growing, quite densely, on a south-facing slope. Being a more southerly species, they probably need the extra heat to survive our cold winters.

From the cholla forest (Wpt. 51), hikes can either start back towards the trailhead or continue on to make a loop.

For a loop, the route continues west and up the cholla forest road. At the next side canyon to the left (Wpt. 52), another stand of cholla can be seen several hundred yards out, again on a south-facing slope. Continuing, the route follows an old road that cuts up and out of the wash, climbing rather steeply onto a ridgeline. There are more cholla on the south side of the ridge below the road.

Cholla Forest
Hikers approaching cholla forest (view W)

The old road eventually descends steeply into a wash (Wpt. 53), and the route departs the road to head downstream. Progress is briefly interrupted by a Class 3 pour-over (Wpt. 54), but then the wash rejoins the powerline road (Wpt. 50) to complete the loop.

Continuing east, the powerline road is followed east and out of the canyons. Along the way (Wpt. 55), hikers might consider returning via Many Falls Canyon, which makes for a good scramble. Otherwise, the powerline road continues east to intersect another dirt road (Wpt. 56), turns left to head north, and passes a pumping station. At the next intersection (Wpt. 57), the route bears left again and soon arrives at the trailhead (Wpt. 01).

Cholla Forest
Teddybear Cholla forest (view NW)
Cholla Forest
Teddybear Cholla forest (view NW)
Cholla Forest
Teddybear Cholla forest
Cholla Forest
Dried Teddybear Cholla fruit
Cholla Forest
Teddybear Cholla forest (view N)
Cholla Forest
Teddybear Cholla forest (view NE)
Cholla Forest
Hikers depart cholla forest and starting loop (view W)
Cholla Forest
More cholla in side canyon (view SW)
Cholla Forest
More cholla in side canyon -- zoom (view SW)
Cholla Forest
Hikers descending into wash (view NW)
Cholla Forest
Hikers heading down wash (view E)
Cholla Forest
Pour-over (view E from above)
Cholla Forest
Pour-over (view E from below)
Cholla Forest
Hikers in wash (view E)
Cholla Forest
Hiker on powerline road (view E)
more to come ...

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
13 Saddle 694908 3989052 2,383 0.00 0.00 GPS
50 Road Forks 694538 3988866 2,377 0.31 0.31 GPS
51 Cholla Patch 694252 3988759 2,476 0.21 0.52 GPS
52 Wash Forks 694034 3988812 2,554 0.17 0.69 GPS
53 Road at Wash 693856 3989040 2,625 0.20 0.89 GPS
54 Pour-Over 693985 3989068 2,560 0.15 1.04 GPS
55 Route Departs Road 694852 3988663 2,266 0.76 1.80 GPS
56 Road Intersection 697113 3988254 1,673 1.52 3.32 Map
57 Road Intersection 697396 3988934 1,558 0.49 3.81 Map
01 Trailhead 697353 3989405 1,473 0.28 4.09 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130203

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