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Razorback Wash South
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Hiking Lake Mead NRA
Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South
Mile 22.6 Trailhead (view SW)

Overview

Razorback Wash South is a great, mid-length hike that runs about 6.3 miles through the Pinto Valley Wilderness Area. The route follows washes along the south side of Razorback Ridge to Cottonwood Wash, then runs down Cottonwood Wash to complete the hike. The route starts at Mile 22.6 Trailhead and ends at Mile 18.2 Trailhead, so a car shuttle is necessary.

Much of the walking is easy, the mud hills are spectacular, and the surrounding scenery is grand, making this one of the better hikes along Northshore Road.

If hiking in the other direction, see east-bound route photos.

Link to route map.

Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe. There is nothing unusually dangerous about this route, but the region is remote, so be careful.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This hike is in the Pinto Valley Wilderness Area, so pay particular attention to respecting the land. This hike runs off-trail where nobody will find you, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones do not work.

When hiking in the mudhill badlands, please walk in washes or where other hiker have walked to preserve the intact surface crust on the mud.

Razorback Wash South

Getting to the Trailhead

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

From town, drive out to Lake Mead, then drive north on Northshore Road for 18.2 miles to the Mile 18.2 Trailhead. Leave a vehicle here, then continue 4.4 miles to Mile 22.6 Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Razorback Wash South

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs south across desert pavement towards Razorback Wash South.

In the wash, the route turns southwest and runs upstream. The walking is easy and the route is unambiguous (just hike up the broad valley). The valley is so broad and flat, however, that the wash meanders a bit, making it hard to always find the easiest place to walk.

Towards the head of the valley, major washes diverge. At about 1.75 miles out, the route pass the toe of a ridge (Wpt. 02) and stays to the right, still heading generally southwest along the base of Razorback Ridge. The other wash runs more due south.

Razorback Wash South

Continuing up Razorback Wash, the route eventually follows an old road up onto a low saddle (Wpt. 03), the highpoint on the route.

From the highpoint saddle (Wpt. 03), the route drops into the wash on the other side and continues southwest. In contrast to the previous wide-open wash, this wash runs down a narrow, sinuous, and rocky canyon where the hillsides become quite colorful with volcanic ash turned to mudstone in shades of reds, purples, yellows, and greens.

Before departing the saddle, looking southwest straight down the wash, note Hamblin Mountain in the far distance. In front of, and lower than Hamblin lies a red mountain. The route runs to the right of the red mountain.

Razorback Wash South

Heading down the wash, the route quickly passes a fork (Wpt. 04), an irrelevant observation when hiking downstream, but stay left if hiking up stream.

The route continues down the canyon, which eventually takes a hard turn to the left and runs due south into Pinto Valley. Following the wash, hikers soon arrive atop a high pour-over (Wpt. 05). At this point, hikers need to backtrack a few steps upstream, then cut up out of the wash to the west.

Razorback Wash South

Above the wash, a well-used use-trail runs southwest onto a low ridge (Wpt. 06) and then down into the wash on the other side (Wpt. 06). In the wash, the route turns upstream and follows this wash northwest and then southwest, wrapping around the yellow-capped red mountain, to the red saddle (Wpt. 08).

Hiking upstream, the wash through the mudhills becomes deep, narrow, and sinuous, restricting long-distance views (including views of the red saddle), but close-up, the red-brown mudhills are adorned with colorful white gypsum crystals and green layers of solidified volcanic ash.

Razorback Wash South

Higher in the wash, an intermittent game-trail becomes apparent, and eventually the now-obvious game-trail cuts steeply up the side of the wash to the mud saddle (Wpt. 08).

From the mud saddle (Wpt. 08), the route is entirely downhill. Continuing down the wash to the southwest, the route runs through more mudhills with more gypsum, green ash, and yellow sandstone, but these hills are low and open compared to the previous wash. This now is the East Fork of Cottonwood Wash.

Razorback Wash South

In about 300 yards, the route passes a major fork in the wash (Wpt. 09), another irrelevant observation when hiking downstream, but helpful in the other direction (stay left). A few steps farther, however, the route intersects the old Pinto Valley road.

Continuing downstream, the route follows the wash (and the old road in places) to the confluence (Wpt. 11) with the West Fork of Cottonwood Wash. The route then follows Cottonwood Wash downstream past Cottonwood Spring (Wpt. 12) and on to the highway. About the time the highway bridge comes into view (Wpt. 13), start looking for a use-trail up the northeast side of the wash. This use-trail provides the easiest and most direct access to the Mile 18.2 Trailhead (Wpt. 14). For details of the route in Cottonwood Wash, see the Cottonwood Spring webpage.

Razorback Wash South
Toe of ridge (Wpt. 02; view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Passing north of Landmark Ridge
Razorback Wash South
Old road (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Wash (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Wash (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Old road leading towards saddle (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Old road leading towards saddle (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Low point on Razorback Ridge permits cross-over (view W)
Razorback Wash
Low point on Razorback Ridge (view N from saddle)
Razorback Wash South
Saddle and route ahead (view W)
Razorback Wash South
Rocky canyon (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Hikers descending rocky canyon (view NE)
Razorback Wash South
Canyon runs southwest
Razorback Wash South
Canyon runs southwest
Razorback Wash South
Canyon runs southwest
Razorback Wash South
Canyon curves to runs south
Razorback Wash South
Top of high pour-over (view S)
Razorback Wash South
Bypass use-trail (view SW)
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South
Nearing Red Saddle
Razorback Wash South
Use-trail running up onto Red Saddle
Razorback Wash South
Hikers climbing onto Red Saddle
Razorback Wash South
Looking back over the route (view NE)
Razorback Wash South
Descending off the Red Saddle (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Hikers in wash beyond Red Saddle (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Hikers in wash (view SW)
Razorback Wash South
Meeting Pinto Valley Road at switchback (view SW)
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South Razorback Wash South
Razorback Wash South
Nearing confluence of East and West forks of Cottonwood Wash
Razorback Wash South
Confluence of East Fork and West Fork of Cottonwood Wash
Razorback Wash
Cottonwood Wash (view NW)
Razorback Wash
Hikers approaching Cottonwood Spring (view NW)
Razorback Wash
Approaching Mile 18.2 Trailhead (view N)
more to come ...

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) Verified
01 Trailhead 716975 4011710 2,185 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Toe of Ridge 715533 4009625 2,393 1.75 1.75 GPS
03 Highpoint Saddle 714466 4008963 2,511 0.86 2.61 GPS
04 Fork in Wash 714420 4008883 2,477 0.09 2.70 GPS
05 Pour-Over 714051 4008445 2,327 0.44 3.14 GPS
06 Use-Trail on Low Ridge 714005 4008384 2,337 0.07 3.21 GPS
07 Bottom of Wash 713980 4008355 2,307 0.02 3.23 GPS
08 Red Saddle 713603 4008304 2,453 0.32 3.55 GPS
09 Fork in Wash 713424 4008162 2,389 0.18 3.73 GPS
10 Pinto Valley Road 713403 4008123 2,385 0.03 3.76 GPS
11 Confluence 712768 4007942 2,281 0.54 4.30 GPS
12 Cottonwood Spring 711951 4008808 2,067 0.93 5.23 GPS
13 Cottonwood Wash 710787 4009432 1,922 0.90 6.13 GPS
14 Trail-End 710745 4009664 1,965 0.15 6.28 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130210

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