birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Hiking | Mojave National Preserve
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mojave National Preserve
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center (view SW)

Overview

This trail runs for about 8 miles between Hole-in-the-Wall (HW) and Mid Hills (MH). This long, but fairly easy trail traverses a variety of habitats and vegetation types (burned and unburned), climbs through rocky passes, follows sandy washes, and runs through big open country that gives the feeling of being "way out there."

There are various places to start and end this hike, and the trail can be walked in either direction in all or in part, but as described here, the hike starts at the HW Visitor Center and runs uphill (net gain of about 1,710 feet) to the MH Trailhead. As such, the hike requires a vehicle shuttle, and that being the case, there are several dirt roads that could be used to shorten the hike (exit to Wild Horse Road). Note that the Park Service recommends hiking this trail in the other direction.

Link to map.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hikers at Rings Trail Trailhead (view W)

In June 2005, this area burned in the 71,000-acre Hackbury Fire. The south-most mile or so remains unburned, but the rest of the trail runs through the burned area. Although different now, this still is an interesting hike with astounding spring wildflowers and many resprouting shrubs. It will be an interesting see in how desert vegetation comes back after a big wildfire.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Descending the rings on the Rings Trail (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a fairly safe hike. You could stumble into one of the many Banana Yuccas, Buckhorn Cholla, or Woodrat nests along the trail, but these concerns aren't unique to this trail.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a long hike in a remote area, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hikers below Banshee Canyon (view W)
Getting to the Trailhead

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

From town, drive two vehicles out to the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 0502), which is about 85 miles south of Las Vegas.

From the Visitor Center, drive north on Black Canyon Road about 7 miles to Wild Horse Road (Site 0834). Watch for signs to Mid Hills Campground. Turn left towards the campground and drive west 2 miles to the campground entrance road (Site 0835).

Do not turn into the campground; rather, turn left into the trailhead parking area (Site 1444). Leave a shuttle vehicle here and return to the Visitor Center.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Well signed trail (follow Barber trail signs; view S)

The Hike

From the Visitor Center (Table 2, Waypoint 01), the trail runs west along the Picnic Area road to the Rings Trail trailhead (Wpt. 02). The trail follows the Rings Trail and descends through a cleft in the cliffs (Banshee Canyon) to the desert floor below and a trail junction with the Rings Loop Trail (Wpt. 03). For details of this section, see the Rings Trail.

From the trail junction (Wpt. 03), the HW-MH trail runs southwest on marked trails to pass the south side of the striking promontory crag that can be seen from the the hole-in-the-wall cleft. Watch for carsonite trail markers and Barber Loop signs along the trail. After about 1.20 miles, the trail reaches a junction (Wpt. 07) with the trail that comes up from Wild Horse Road. The road, about 0.3 miles south of the junction, is an alternative trailhead.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hikers in wash (notice trail marker; view W)

From the trail junction, the trail turns right and runs north for about 0.7 miles to what appears to be a pass on the horizon (Wpt. 9), but which actually is a narrow gap between the mountains. To get there, the trail follows a bench between a broad sandy wash to the west and distinctively banded volcanic cliffs to the east. The vegetation on the bench is low-growing Mojave Desert Scrub with lots of Mojave Yucca and Buckhorn Cholla, and there are many cholla-spine-fortified Desert Woodrat (packrat) nests among the yuccas. The fire burned the entire mountain across the wash to the west. About 200 yards before getting to the narrow gap, the trail passes two tree-sized Mojave Yuccas as it runs around the east side of a rocky knob with lots of Barrel Cactus. The trail then goes above and to the east of the narrow gap, passes through a gate (Wpt. 10; sign says 6.2 miles to MH), and drops into the sandy wash (Wpt. 11) north of the narrow gap and into the burned area.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail junction to Wild Horse Trailhead (view W)

The trail starts up the wash, then quickly leaves the wash and follows old roads northwest (past a campsite below the Opalite Cliffs; Wpt. 12) for about 0.5 miles to a fork (Wpt. 13) in the road below the Opalite Cliffs, which are light-colored cliffs capped with black lava. The vegetation along here used to be relatively lush in the wash and on the north-facing slopes (species including Single-leaf Pinyon, Utah Juniper, Desert Almond, Catclaw Acacia, and other large shrubs). The shrubs are resprouting, but few trees survived the fire.

From the Opalite Cliffs (Wpt. 13), the trail runs northeast on another dirt road to a trail junction (Wpt. 14). Here, the Barber Loop Trail continues northeast, while the HW-MH Trail turns left and heads north towards a saddle on the horizon about 2 air-miles distant (entirely burned). The trail runs up a wash for a ways (Wpt. 15), then leaves the wash to the right and runs up onto low ridges. The vegetation through here used to be dense higher-elevation Mojave Desert Scrub with Big Sagebrush, various cholla, Mojave Yucca and Banana Yucca, Nevada Ephedra, and California Buckwheat. The shrubs are resprouting.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail

In this area, the trail is faint but well marked with cairns. Always keep a eye out ahead looking for the next cairn.

Off to the east side of the trail, hikers will pass a small mining operation. Be careful here, as the dirt around the mine shaft is loose, and the loose dirt could give away when trying to get a closer look. In fact, this probably is the scariest open shaft I've ever found.

Farther up the trail, just before getting into the hills, the trail crosses an old road (Wpt. 17), passes through an old gate (Wpt. 18), and joins an old road (Wpt. 19), all while heading north. Following the road, the road quickly forks (Wpt. 20) without sign of any kind. To the right is a quail guzzler, but the route runs left and up the hill heading for the saddle on the skyline (Wpt. 21).

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail climbs to high gap (view NW)

Views from the saddle are great, and with binoculars, hikers can see the entrance to the MH campground (the end of the trail). The route from here runs far to the east of what might be expected by looking at the lay of the land, and it runs over the hills seen about 2.7 air-miles due north of the saddle (all burned).

From the saddle, the trail runs downhill on the old road for 0.21 miles (Wpt. 22). At that point, there is no trail, sign, or other indicator of the trail, but a line of carsonite trail markers can be seen leading across open desert to the northwest. The trail follows the signs, but hiking the road and staying to the north will work too. Either way, the trail reaches another gate and a dirt road (Wpt. 23).

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hiker at gate beyond highpoint (view NW)

From the gate, the trail crosses the road and heads northeast, following the hillside and a wash to a point to the southeast of some bluffs (Wpt. 24). The vegetation in the valley was Single-leaf Pinyon, Utah Juniper, and Big Sagebrush on the slopes, and Desert Almond and Catclaw Acacia in the wash, and some are growing back.

For no apparent reason, the trail, marked with carsonite signs and cairns, turns hard to the left to cross under the toe of the bluffs. The trail crosses a broad, sandy wash (Wpt. 25), and on the other side (Wpt. 26), curves a bit to the northeast behind a rocky outcrop. The trail is a bit hard to follow, but watch for trail markers.

The trail runs over low ridges and drops into another sandy, broad wash (Wpt. 27). Following the wash upstream, the trail hits a road that crosses the wash (Wpt. 28).

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Approaching Opalite Cliffs (view NW)

At this point, hikers can stay on the regular trail (turn right), which climbs (for no particular reason) over the mountains in the distance, or they can follow the wash and an old road (stay straight) up the valley to the trailhead (avoids climbing over the mountains). For details an routing options, see the Mid Hills Loop Trail.

Staying on the main trail, the trail turns northeast onto the old road. In only a few yards, the trail forks off (Wpt. 29) from the road and heads north. Again, the trail is a bit hard to follow, but it runs over low ridges heading for a canyon to the north.

The trail passes an old gate (Wpt. 30) and continues north in a sandy wash into the canyon (Wpt. 31). The trail climbs at moderate grades to a saddle (Wpt. 32) at the top of the canyon.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail junction (view N)

Crossing onto the hillside to the east, the trail continues climbing at moderate grades towards a higher saddle (Wpt. 33), at which point hikers can look down to the trailhead. The views from the saddle are pretty expansive (great view of the New York Mountains to the northeast), but for a grand view, hikers are encouraged to climb onto the peak to the south. The summit is closer than it looks (about 200 yards; seems longer) and well worth the effort.

Beyond the saddle (Wpt. 33), the trail descends at moderate grades and switchbacks to another gate (Wpt. 34) and shortly the trailhead (Wpt. 35).

From MH, drive back to the HW trailhead.

Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Barber Loop - HW-MH Trail junction (view NE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
HW-MH Trail junction (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Obscure trail departs wash (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Faint trail - watch for trail markers (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Cairn marks faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Carsonite sign marks faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail passes gate (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail follows old road (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail follows old road onto high saddle (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail follows old road beyond saddle (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail departs old road (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Carsonite signs mark faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail passes gate (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Cairn marks faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Carsonite signs mark faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail crosses broad wash then trends right (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Carsonite signs mark faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Carsonite signs mark faint trail (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Main trail departs wash onto old road (view NE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail sign (note wash in the background; view SW)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Faint trail with few markers (view NE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Faint trail with few markers (view NE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail passes gate (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Starting into canyon (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail runs up sandy wash with few markers (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail climbs onto hillside (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail passes low saddle and climbs across hillside (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail climbs onto high saddle (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail departs high saddle (view N)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hiker approaching gate near trailhead (view NW)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Hiker approaching trailhead (view NW)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail Guide box near trailhead (view SE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trail information sign (view SE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trailhead parking (view SE)
Hole-in-the-Wall to Mid Hills Trail
Trailhead parking (view SE)
more to come ...

Historic Photos from Before the 2005, 71,000-acre Hackbury Fire

71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Hikers departing HW area
71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Hikers approaching the Opalite Cliffs (view NW)
71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Hiker heading for saddle on the skyline (view N)
71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Looking back towards Barber Peak (on left; view S)
71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Hikers on 4.8-mile saddle (view NE)
71,000-acre Hackbury Fire
Hiker approaching the northern mountains (view S)

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
0502 Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center 646403 3878704 35.04221 115.39490 4,260 Yes
0834 Black Cyn Rd at Mid Hills Rd 645618 3889147 35.13646 115.40166 5,282 Yes
0835 Mid Hills Rd at MH Camp Rd 642866 3887646 35.12332 115.43212 5,522 Yes
1268 Wild Horse Trailhead 645313 3878094 35.03687 115.40695 4,216 Yes
1444 Mid Hills Trailhead 642879 3887616 35.12305 115.43198 5,493 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 HW Visitor Center 646446 3878721 4,227 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Rings Trailhead 646177 3878898 4,256 0.24 0.24 GPS
03 Trail Junction 646020 3878753 4,163 0.20 0.44 GPS
04 Trail Drops into Wash 645818 3878538 4,160 0.20 0.64 GPS
05 Trail turns into Side Wash 645737 3878527 4,171 0.05 0.69 GPS
06 Trail Exits Wash 645525 3878425 4,194 0.18 0.87 GPS
07 Trail Junction 645031 3878461 4,292 0.33 1.20 GPS
08 Detour to Tall Yucca 644860 3878777 4,320 0.23 1.43 GPS
09 Highpoint 644393 3879376 4,533 0.52 1.95 GPS
10 Gate 644281 3879465 4,505 0.10 2.05 GPS
11 Trail Enters Wash 644230 3879498 4,458 0.04 2.09 GPS
12 Campsite below Opalite Cliffs 643779 3879801 4,541 0.38 2.47 GPS
13 Road Forks 643704 3880001 4,577 0.17 2.64 GPS
14 Trail Junction 643790 3880165 4,593 0.11 2.75 GPS
15 Trail Exits Wash 643706 3880476 4,659 0.23 2.98 GPS
16 Trail Junction 643729 3881560 4,943 0.73 3.71 GPS
17 Crossing Old Road 643599 3882076 5,084 0.39 4.10 GPS
18 Old Gate 643597 3882180 5,103 0.07 4.17 GPS
19 Trail Joins Old Road 643602 3882202 5,112 0.01 4.18 GPS
20 Road Forks 643641 3882348 5,163 0.10 4.28 GPS
21 Saddle 643463 3883144 5,393 0.54 4.82 GPS
22 Trail Departs Road 643507 3883470 5,349 0.21 5.03 GPS
23 Gate 643343 3883818 5,345 0.24 5.27 GPS
24 Trail Exits Wash 643996 3884582 5,149 0.66 5.93 GPS
25 Broad Sandy Wash, South 643938 3884930 5,116 0.24 6.17 GPS
26 Broad Sandy Wash, North 643902 3884992 5,119 0.04 6.21 GPS
27 Trail Drops into Wash 643872 3885216 5,157 0.15 6.36 GPS
28 Trail Joins Dirt Road 643628 3885475 5,199 0.23 6.59 GPS
29 Trail Departs Dirt Road 643644 3885492 5,199 0.02 6.61 GPS
30 Gate 643741 3886312 5,319 0.55 7.16 GPS
31 Trail Leaves Wash 643628 3886744 5,443 0.31 7.47 GPS
32 Low Saddle 643534 3886888 5,510 0.12 7.59 GPS
33 High Saddle 643407 3887395 5,646 0.38 7.97 GPS
34 Gate 642961 3887602 5,495 0.37 8.34 GPS
35 Trailhead 642891 3887627 5,493 0.05 8.39 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140204

Hiking Around Mojave Preserve Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads