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Northshore Summit Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Northshore Summit Trail Panorama
Northshore Summit Trail
Northshore Summit trailhead (view NW)

Overview

This is a nice, 0.6-mile loop trail that runs to the top of a bluff with great views of everything except Lake Mead. This truly is a land where the geology is laid bare.

Link to map.

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe hike, but there are places along the upper part of the trail and at the summit where a slip could result in serious injury or death if you get too close to the edge of the cliff, so be careful and watch your kids.

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 short, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Northshore Summit Trail
The "short steep" trail (view N)
Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along Northshore Road in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, about 50 minutes northeast of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Lake Mead, then drive north on Northshore Road for about 20.6 miles to the Mile 20.6 (Northshore Summit) Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 1), the well-defined trail runs northward at a gentle incline that gradually gets steeper. About five minutes out, the trail forks (Wpt. 2) to form a loop. Both forks lead to the summit; the left fork is a short (0.10 miles), steep use-trail, while the right fork is a longer (0.22 miles), more gentle, constructed trail.

Hiking up, I would take the more gentle constructed trail. Staying to the right, the trail runs up and across the hillside as it climbs to a saddle (Wpt. 3) on the ridge to the north of (beyond) the summit.

Northshore Summit Trail
Northshore Summit (view NE)

On the saddle, the trail forks again. The constructed trail to the left leads to the summit, while the use-trail to the right runs out to little peaklets farther out the ridge. Staying to the left, the constructed trail runs along the east side of the ridge to the summit (Wpt. 4).

The views from the summit are spectacular, but you can't really see the lake. To the north is Muddy Mountain, to the east is Bitter Springs Valley, to the south is Northshore Peak, and to the west is the Bowl of Fire and a bit of Lake Mead in the distance. Immediately west of the summit, you can look down on a geologic formation were layered sediments were bowed up in the middle (i.e., an anticline). The upper layers have cracked and eroded away, revealing a dome of whitish rock (gypsum) in the middle. Along the edges of the anticline, you can see that the rocks are tilted up on both sides.

Northshore Summit Trail
Parking area and trail (view SE from near summit)

The summit rocks are interesting too. They are composed of thin layers of red sandstone and a gray conglomerate (like gravely concrete).

To get back to the trailhead, continue south on the loop and descend the steep trail along the ridge. There are some nice overviews from outcrops along the trail, but some parts of the trail are slippery because of the loose gravel; be careful along the edge. If you don’t want to descend the steep trail, just follow the gentle trail back down.

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

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 713865 4011569 2,383 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Fork in the trail 713701 4011719 2,463 0.16 0.16 GPS
03 Saddle 713616 4011900 2,540 0.15 0.31 GPS
04 Summit 713627 4011801 2,573 0.07 0.37 GPS
02 Fork in the trail on the way back 713701 4011719 2,463 0.10 0.47 GPS
01 Trailhead on the way back 713865 4011569 2,383 0.16 0.63 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 121030

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