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

Overview

The Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail (MH-HITW Trail) runs for about 8-1/2 miles between the Mid Hills (MH) campground area and Hole-in-the-Wall (HITW) campground area. This long, but fairly easy trail traverses a variety of habitats and vegetation types (burned and unburned), climbs over rocky passes, follows sandy washes, and runs through big open country that gives the feeling of being "way out there."

The Park Service says that lots of people get lost on this trail. Careful attention to trail markers and a few landmarks should eliminate this problem. Link to Landmarks.

Link to map or download scan of official trail brochure.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Mid Hills Trailhead (view SE)

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 MH Trailhead and runs south to the HW Visitor Center (net loss of about 1,710 feet). 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 (several exits to Wild Horse Road). Note that the Park Service recommends hiking this trail in this direction.

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 and a few patches that escaped the blaze. It has been interesting to watch the desert vegetation respond to wildfire.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Mid Hills Trailhead (view S)

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.

There is a very dangerous mine shaft a short ways off the trail about 1/2 mile past the high saddle. If hikers visit this site, be aware that the collar is formed from loose dirt, and getting too close to the shaft easily could result in the soft dirt giving away. The main danger is that hikers can get too close before realizing the hazard.

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.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Option 3: start on the dirt road (view S)
Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in 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). Park here, this is the Mid Hills Trailhead.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Options 1 and 2: start on trails (view SE)

The Hike

At the Mid Hills Trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 35), hikers are immediately presented with three choices: (1) hike the regular trail, (2) hike "backwards" on the Mid Hills Loop, or (3) hike down a dirt road until joining the Mid Hills Loop trail, and then hiking "backwards" on the Mid Hills Loop.

Option 1. The regular trail runs southeast to climb over the ridge behind the trailhead. This option is harder because it climbs over the ridge, but it offers nice views out over the desert. This also offers the opportunity to summit Mid Hills Peak with little added effort.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Option 1: straight; Option 2: turn right (view SW)

Option 2. Hiking "backwards" on the Mid Hills Loop provides an easier start, but the first 1/2 mile is faint and hard to follow. For this option, follow the main trail through a gate (Wpt. 34) and up to signs on a 4x4 post. Turn right onto what looks like a cow trail and hike south for about 2 miles to the south end of the Mid Hills Loop (Wpt. 29). For details of this hike, see the Mid Hills Loop Trail.

Option 3. Hiking the dirt road makes a fine route that is easy and easy to follow, but it starts by climbing over a locked gate (which can be bypassed with some added distance by hiking out the main trail to the man-gate). On the dirt road, hike south for about 0.5 miles to join the Mid Hills Loop, then continue 1.5 miles to the south end of the Mid Hills Loop (Wpt. 29). See the Mid Hills Loop for details.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Option 1: straight; Option 2: turn right (view SW)

On the main trail, the well marked trail runs southeast, through a man-gate (Wpt. 34), and up to a saddle (Wpt. 33) on the ridge to the southeast. Views from the saddle are not bad, but those from Mid Hills Peak, just above, are grand.

Continuing over the saddle, the trail wraps around the east side of the peak to another saddle, then runs down a sideslope to a third saddle (Wpt. 32), and eventually runs down a canyon and out onto a sandy flood plain (Wpt. 31). Following carsonite signs, cairns, and landmarks, the trail runs through a gate (Wpt. 30) and on down to a trail junction (Wpt. 29) where the Mid Hills Trail loops back to the north and the MH-HITW Trail continues south. See the Mid Hills Loop Trail for details of the trail to this point.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
High saddle and Mid Hills Peak (view S)

Here, in the broad, sandy wash (Wpt. 28), the three hiking options converge. Before leaving this spot, look south to the high ridge that runs east-west. The trail runs over this ridge at the lowest saddle in the middle of the ridge. Locate an important landmark: the rocky crags just right of the lowest saddle.

The MH-HITW Trail continues south from the trail signs in the broad, sandy wash (Wpt. 28). The wash runs southeast past a rocky outcrop, then when the wash seems to spread out, the carsonite trail markers drift off to the right side of the wash, eventually leaving the wash (Wpt. 27) to the right.

The trail runs up over a low ridge, then drops to cross another broad, sandy wash (Wpt. 26; Wpt. 25). Continuing south, the well marked trail begins a long, uphill run. The trail runs up a side canyon, then crosses a low ridge into a small sandy wash (Wpt. 24).

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail

Running southwest up the wash, the trail runs though a landscape well adorned with boulders, including balanced rocks and juniper trees (a bit of shade), aiming for rocky crags on the skyline.

Approaching the rocky crags, the trail fades out as cows and humans avoid the washed out ditch that was the trail, but continuing towards the rocky crags, the trail arrives at a gate (Wpt. 23). Note that these crags are a good landmark that can be seen from miles away.

Passing through the gate, a dirt road runs east, angling down and across the hillside; however, the well-marked trail runs up across the hillside to the southeast. Eventually reconnecting with the old road (Wpt. 22), the trail continues onto a high saddle (Wpt. 21).

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Gate in sandy washes area (view S)

Atop the saddle, take notice of the landscape ahead and locate the landmarks. The entire landscape appears to drain towards a single canyon: this is Barber Canyon where the trail runs around the west edge of Barber Peak. Also, partially obscured by foreground hills, the Opalite Cliffs can be seen. The trail runs below the Opalite Cliffs before turning down Barber Canyon. There is no reason to become disorientated in this area: just walk downhill past the Opalite Cliffs and down Barber Canyon.

Continuing south over the saddle (Wpt. 17), the old road runs down the canyon heading generally south as it passes a T-intersection (Wpt. 20; there is a quail guzzler to the east), passes through an historic gate (Wpt. 18) from which the barbed wire has been removed, and crosses another old road (Wpt. 17).

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Landmark: rectangular rocks below sandy washes

Still running generally south, the trail runs on side hills east of the sandy wash that drains from the saddle. There are cattle trails in this area that can be confusing (Wpt. 16), but the trail continues south. In this area, the trail passes near to the dangerous mine shaft. Hikers who investigate the site need to stay well back from the soft edge. [Personal note: this is the most scary unmarked mine shaft that I have ever seen because I got too close before realizing that the collar was unstable.]

At about 1.8 miles south of the saddle, the trail comes off the hillside and enters that sandy wash (Wpt. 15). This wash is followed generally south about 0.2 miles, across one dirt road to a second dirt road with trail signs (Wpt. 14). At the second dirt road, the trail turns right onto the road and runs southwest towards the Opalite Cliffs.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Landmark: hill with rocky cap

The road merges with another (Wpt. 13) and curves to the southeast heading more directly towards Barber Canyon. Still on the road, the trail passes a campsite directly below the Opalite Cliffs (Wpt. 12). The road eventually ends, and the trail follows the sandy wash downstream into Barber Canyon.

Trail signs indicate where the trail cuts up out of the wash to the left, but hikers who miss the signs will, in a few yards, stop atop a high pour-over. Climbing out of the wash, the trail passes a gate (Wpt. 10) and climbs over a highpoint (Wpt. 09). For details of this section, see the Barber Peak Loop Trail.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Sign at south end of Mid Hills Loop (view SW)

Between the gate and the highpoint, hikers might want to drop off the steep hillside into the wash below and visit the Tallest Yuccas. Continuing down the wash, hikers can cut back up the trail without climbing back up a cliff.

Beyond the highpoint (Wpt. 09), the well-defined trail runs south and down a rocky canyon past several quite stout yuccas, and on down to a signed trail junction (Wpt. 07). Here, hikers terminating at the Wild Horse Trailhead continue south another 0.3 miles, while hikers heading for Hole-in-the-Wall turn left and head west another 1.2 miles. For details of this section, see the Barber Peak Loop Trail.

Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
HITW trail turns down broad, sandy wash (view S)
The trail runs across gentle hillsides and down a sandy wash heading for Banshee Canyon. At a junction with the Rings Loop Trail (Wpt. 03), The trails continues straight into Banshee Canyon. Staying left into a cleft, the trail climbs two sets of ringbolts (Rings Trail) and arrives at the Rings Trailhead (Wpt. 02). Following the road east another 1/4-mile, the trail ends at the Hole-in-the-Wall Visitor Center (Wpt. 01). For details of this section, see the Rings Loop Trail.
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
HITW trail turns down broad, sandy wash (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Carsonite trail markers in wash (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Carsonite trail markers trending right in wash (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Well-marked trail exits wash (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail climbs over low ridge towards 2nd broad wash (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail approaches broad wash (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail entering broad wash - look ahead for carsonite marker (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Carsonite marker on south side of broad wash (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail runs up side canyon (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail runs across rolling landscape (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail enters smaller, sandy wash (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail in boulder-strewn area (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Approaching landmark crags, trail becomes faint (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Approaching rocky crags, trail becomes very faint (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Approaching gate below landmark rocky crags (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Gate below landmark rocky crags (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Gate below landmark rocky crags (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
At gate, trail runs high, not on dirt road (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Faint trail runs across hillside; watch for trail markers (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Faint trail runs across hillside; watch for trail markers (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Faint trail joins old road; high saddle comes into view (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail follows track of old road towards saddle (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail follows track of old road towards saddle (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
High saddle (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Atop high saddle, review the landscape ahead (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Atop high saddle, locate the landmarks (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail follows old road below high saddle - watch for trail markers
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail passes through old gate (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Sign at old gate (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Very faint trail - watch for trail markers (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Very faint trail - watch for trail markers (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Very faint trail - watch for trail markers (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail crosses old road (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail signs at 2nd dirt road (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail turns right onto dirt road (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail turns towards Opalite Cliffs landmark (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Sign at dirt road (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Sign at dirt road (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Dirt roads merge below Opalite Cliffs (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Dirt road runs towards Barber Canyon landmark (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Road runs below Opalite Cliffs (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Road runs past campsite below Opalite Cliffs (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Road runs into Barber Canyon (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Road runs into Barber Canyon (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Road ends before Barber Canyon (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
End of the road sign (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail continues on closed road (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail continues on closed road (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail drops into wash (view SE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Before pour-over, trail turns left onto hillside (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail climbs hillside to gate and highpoint (view E)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Looking back at hiker coming through gate (view NW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Sign at gate (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Route into top of Tall Yuccas area (view SW)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Passing high point and starting down rocky trail (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Horses grazing along trail (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail forks: turn left towards Hole in the Wall (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail sign (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail sign (view W)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail runs into Banshee Canyon (view E)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail sign at Rings Loop Trail (view S)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail entering Banshee Canyon (view NE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Trail approaching Banshee Canyon slot (view NE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Hikers ascending lower set of ringbolts (view NE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Hikers ascending higher set of ringbolts (view NE)
Mid Hills to Hole-in-the-Wall Trail
Hikers arriving at Rings Trailhead (view E)

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 130607

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

 

Google Ads