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Giant Ledge Mine Trail, Caruthers Canyon
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers CanyonCaruthers Canyon Trail sign along the road (view N)

Overview

The hike to Giant Ledge Mine runs up an old mining road through Caruthers Canyon. The road parallels the wash, staying on one side and then the other, as it climbs at moderate grades. The area is a wonderland of eroded granite rock piles, spires, and balanced rocks intermixed with relatively lush Pinyon-Juniper Woodland flora. There are lots of Canyon Live Oak lower down and lots of Single-leaf Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper higher up.

As would be expected for a mine dating from before 1927, it is safer to stay out and stay alive. There is plenty to see while peering into the darkness from the safety of the mine entrances, including one opening that collapsed despite timbers at the entrance. For hikers who want to see inside the mines without the danger, click here.

Link to map.

Caruthers Canyon
Trailhead at fork in the road (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... mines are never safe to enter. I took a calculated risk on this one, and because I did, everyone can look at the pictures and nobody else needs to go inside. Be safe and do not enter the dark, dangerous mine shafts.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Due to the remote location of this canyon, be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon road (view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in the Mojave National Preserve, about 2 hours south of Las Vegas.

From town, drive south on I-15 into California to Nipton Road (Table 1, Site 1008). Turn left onto Nipton Road and drive east about 4 miles to Ivanpah Road (Site 1264). Turn right onto Ivanpah Road and drive south for about 24 miles to the signed New York Mountain Road (Site 1259). Turn right onto New York Mountain Road and drive west for about 5-1/2 miles to an unsigned four-way intersection with Caruthers Road (Site 1260). Turn right onto Caruthers Road and drive north, passing an old windmill (Site 1261), for about two miles to a wash crossing (Site 1262). Hikers with 2WD vehicles might stop here. Otherwise, continue for about 3/4-miles to the trailhead at a fork in the road (Site 1463). Park near here; this is the trailhead.

Caruthers Canyon
Approaching Caruthers Canyon Trail sign (view N)

The Hike

Regardless of the vehicle driven or the parking area chosen, continue north on Caruthers Canyon Road. At a fork in the road (Table 2, Waypoint 01) where straight appears to continue up a wash and the right runs up to the stone-table campsite, the route follows the road up the bottom of the canyon.

Shortly, the road passes a sign on the right: Caruthers Canyon Trail (Wpt. 02). Along this section, the road is bordered by Shrub Live Oak, shaded by Single-left Pinyon Pine, and towered over by granite crags (including the balanced spire).

Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon Trail sign (view N)

The road continues up the canyon. For hikers, the road is fine and easy to follow (side roads are obscure), but for drivers, the main road deteriorates more and more farther up the canyon. Most drivers in 4WD vehicles will want to stop about 0.4 miles out.

In this area, the vegetation along the road is dense and diverse. Shrub Live Oak is thick, and spaced between the oaks are filled with Manzanita, Ashy Silktassel, Cliffrose, Matchweed, Narrowleaf Goldenbush, Banana Yucca, and lots of cactus (Tulip Pricklypear, Grizzlybear Cactus, Mojave Kingcup Cactus, and Spinystar Cactus). Keep an ear out for Western Scrub-jays, and watch for Western Fence Lizards scurrying behind the rocks.

At about 0.65 miles out, the road crosses to the west side of the wash (Wpt. 03). Very few vehicles make it this far. The miners did some nice rock work along here laying in stones to hold up the road.

Caruthers Canyon
Granite (quartz monzonite) outcrops

The road eventually crosses back to the east side of the wash (Wpt. 04) and runs up along rocky cliffs where the road was cut into the hillside. A landslide here (Wpt. 05) blocks the road, keeping all vehicles from the top of the canyon.

The old road runs up the east side of the canyon, then once again crosses the wash (Wpt. 06) to west other side. Running along the west side of the wash, the road briefly dips into the wash, then cuts out again onto the west side. At about this point, tailing from the main Giant Ledge Mine become visible.

The road crosses the wash (Wpt. 07) to the east for the last time, and just across the wash, the road splits (Wpt. 08). To the left, the road runs about 100 feet to the base of the tailings pile (Wpt. 09) at the edge of the wash. A collapsed wood-and-tin ore chute lies crumpled on the bottom of the tailings pile. The chute probably carried tailings to the far edge of the tailings pile where they could be dumped over the edge.

Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon Road (view N)

Either climbing steeply up the side of the tailings pile or walking up the right fork in the road, the route arrives on a flat area atop the tailing pile (Wpt. 10) and some of the mine opening.

Note that walking up the road, the first adit encountered has collapsed, despite timbers intended to hold it open. Let this stand as a warning to hikers - mines are never safe to enter.

Just around the corner to the right an old pipe comes out of the main adit. To the right is a shaft - don't get too close to the edge! To the left are other adits. Straight up the hill is a shaft and an adit, and up across the hillside 100 yards to the east is another adit. I didn't record good notes here, but these three sites are the main areas of activity; although I've underestimated the number of adits.

For hikers who want to see inside the mines without the danger, click here. Return to the trailhead by following the road back down the canyon.

Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon Road at a bad spot (view N)
Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon Road at a good spot (view N)
Caruthers Canyon
Mine tailings on the hillside (not the main mine area)
Caruthers Canyon
Jumbled granite and the crest of the New York Mountains (view NW)
Caruthers Canyon Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Wash below the road (view NW)
Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Road above the wash (view NW)
Caruthers Canyon
Rock-hooper Jeep country
Caruthers Canyon
Primitive campsite along the road
Caruthers Canyon Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon
Grizzlybear Cactus in flower
Caruthers Canyon
Balanced rocks and stone spires
Caruthers Canyon
Balanced rocks and stone spires
Caruthers Canyon
Balanced rocks and Shrub Live Oak
Caruthers Canyon
Narrow road (view N)
Caruthers Canyon
Last campsite (view NE
Caruthers Canyon
Crags and spires
Caruthers Canyon
Crossing wash to west side (view N)
Caruthers Canyon
Stonework holds up roadway
Caruthers Canyon
Crossing wash to east side (view N)
Caruthers Canyon
Unusual erosion pattern in granite boulder
Caruthers Canyon
Landslide blocks road
Caruthers Canyon Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon
Last wash crossing; mine tailings visible (view NE)
Caruthers Canyon
Old road forks across wash
Caruthers Canyon
Collapsed ore chute and tailings pile
Caruthers Canyon
Collapsed ore chute and tailings pile
Caruthers Canyon
Collapsed ore chute and tailings pile (view from above)
Caruthers Canyon
Tailings pile
Caruthers Canyon
Collapsed adit with roofing timbers
Caruthers Canyon
Another collapsed adit?
Caruthers Canyon
Atop tailings pile (view E)
Caruthers Canyon
Main adit and shaft
Caruthers Canyon
New York Mountains (view NW from main adit)
Caruthers Canyon
New York Mountains (view NW from east adit)
Caruthers Canyon
Copper ore in the hand
Caruthers Canyon
Copper ore in the rock wall outside the main adit

Hiking back down the canyon

Caruthers Canyon Caruthers Canyon
Caruthers Canyon more to come ...

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) Verified
1008 I-15 at Nipton Rd 640822 3926437 35.47327 115.44788 3,432 Yes
1259 Ivanpah Rd at NY Mts Rd 663698 3896831 35.20293 115.20177 4,280 Yes
1260 NY Mtn Rd at Caruthers Rd 655000 3898275 35.21733 115.29701 5,397 Yes
1261 Caruthers Rd at Windmill 654761 3899152 35.22527 115.29947 5,510 Yes
1264 Nipton Rd at Ivanpah Rd 646208 3924862 35.45829 115.38882 2,747 Yes
1462 NY Mts Rd @ Fork 654666 3900738 35.23958 115.30021 5,576 Yes
1463 NY Mts Rd @ Fork 654840 3901032 35.24220 115.29825 5,585 Yes

Table 2. Trail 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 654841 3901041 5,674 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Caruthers Cyn Trail Sign 654883 3901089 5,669 0.05 0.05 GPS
03 Road Crosses Wash West 654720 3901834 5,744 0.60 0.65 GPS
04 Road Crosses Wash East 654622 3902002 5,817 0.14 0.79 GPS
05 Landslide 654632 3902087 5,961 0.07 0.86 GPS
06 Road Crosses Wash West 654654 3902306 5,961 0.16 1.02 GPS
07 Road Crosses Wash East 654693 3902384 5,975 0.07 1.09 GPS
08 Road Forks 654700 3902384 6,036 0.01 1.10 GPS
09 Base of Tailings Pile 654710 3902424 6,001 . [0.03] GPS
10 Giant Ledge Mine, Main 654737 3902438 6,070 0.07 1.17 GPS
11 Giant Ledge Mine, Upper 654763 3902449 6,100 0.02 1.19 GPS
12 Giant Ledge Mine, East 654831 3902460 6,161 0.05 1.24 GPS
01 Trailhead 654841 3901041 5,674 1.24 2.48 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130528

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