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Griffith Shadow North Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Mount Charleston Area, Lovell Canyon
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Sign at Lovell Canyon Trailhead. This means the Griffith Shadow North Trail starts in 2.9 miles (view N)


The Griffith Shadow North Trail is the north end of what used to be a 2.1 mile in-and-out hike rather than a loop. The other end of the "loop" is the Griffith Shadow South Trail, and the middle part connecting these two trails was recently built.

Griffith Shadow North Trail starts at the far end of the Schaefer Spring Loop Trail, and so although the original trail is only 2.1 miles, it takes 2.9 miles of trail to get there, and the hike is about 10 miles round-trip.

If not doing the entire loop, it makes sense to only hike into the burn zone (about 3/4-miles out) or to only hike onto a saddle with grand views (about 1-3/4 miles out).

The interesting thing about this hike is that it appears to be the only place where hikers can legally enter the Carpenter One Burn Zone in this area.

Link to Area Map or Hiking Map or Elevation Profile.

Griffith Shadow North Trail
Trailhead sign -- You've been warned!

Watch Out

Official USFS signs along this trail list the Handy Peak Loop Trail. However, the Handy Peak Loop Trail does not exist. Don't get lost or injured looking for this trail.

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the mountains, this trail is pretty safe. Flashfloods in Upper Lovell Canyon washed out parts of the trail, but it remains easy to follow. Dead trees in the burn zone pose a falling hazard.

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 in a remote area, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. This hike runs near Private Property and into the La Madre Mountain Wilderness Area, so please pay particular attention to taking care of the land.

Griffith Shadow North Trail
Start of Griffith Shadow North Trail
(view N from wash crossing at N end of Schaefer Spring Loop Trail)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area at the north end of Lovell Canyon, about 1-1/4 hours west of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out Highway 160 towards Pahrump. About three miles past Mountain Spring Summit, turn right onto Lovell Canyon Road. Drive north 11 miles to Lovell Summit Road. Turn left and drive 0.4 miles to Lovell Canyon Trailhead. Click the links for details and GPS coordinates.

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), this hike runs north on the Lovell Canyon Trail. At the first fork (Wpt. 03), hikers can turn either way onto the Lovell Canyon Loop. Staying right, the trail continues north and eventually runs down to the edge of Lovell Canyon Wash and a trail junction (Wpt. 05) marked with an enormous cairn and a wooden trail sign.

Griffith Shadow North Trail
From low ridge, trail ahead and burn area is visible (view N)

The sign indicates that the Schaefer Spring Trail is 0.1 miles west. Disregard the sign, as the trail to the north across the wash is the Schaefer Spring Loop Trail. Note that Lovell Wash flashflooded in 2014 and washed out the trail across the wash, but the trail still continues across the wash to the north (watch for a mid-wash cairn).

The Schaefer Spring Loop Trail eventually turns west to recross Lovell Canyon Wash and follow a side wash (both flash flooded) towards the edge of a low bluff (Wpt. 12). The Schaefer Spring Loop Trail cuts up the bank of the wash continuing west, but the Griffith Shadow North Trail turns north across the wash.

Cairns were washed away by the flood, but a bit of Griffith Shadow North Trail can be seen on a low ridgeline across the wash to the north. Hiking towards the ridgeline, hikers will find a trail across the wash that is hidden behind bushes.

Following the Griffith Shadow North Trail north, the trail climbs onto the low ridge, and from there, much of the trail ahead can be seen to the north and west, including where the trail runs into the burn zone.

Griffith Shadow North Trail

The trail runs north to a turn (Wpt. 20), then runs west. Hiking on gentle slopes above the broad wash, the trail enters the burn zone (Wpt. 21) in a brushy area, and before long reaches an area once forested primarily by Pinyon Pine. All of the trees are dead, but many of the shrubs are sprouting from the roots.

The trail runs at gentle grades in the burn area, but then crosses a washed-out gully and climbs somewhat steeply for a few yards towards a high point. Crossing this low ridge, the trail descends towards the broad wash below, making a big switchback on the way down. The trail drops into and cross the wash (Wpt. 22), climbing out the other side angling up and across the hillside heading east.

The trail circles the ridge into an unburned area, then turns and climbs steeply up into the burn area. The trail eventually crests onto a saddle along a ridge (Wpt. 24) with grand views in all directions. For hikers not doing the entire loop, this is the place to stop, rest, and turn around, as the trail from here drops steeply across the hillside to a low point then climbs up just a far and just as steeply to connect with the Griffith Shadow South Trail.

Griffith Shadow North Trail
Entering the burn zone; only shrubs here (view W)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Entering the forested burn zone (view W)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Shrubs and annuals plants are growing back ...
Griffith Shadow North Trail
... but the conifers are not (view S; note trail across the canyon)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Crossing the wash (view S)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Climbing towards the saddle (view SW)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Arriving on saddle (note trail descending steeply towards dead-end)
Griffith Shadow North Trail
Saddle (view SE down Lovell Canyon)

Table 1. 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
12 Trail Forks 626191 4006002 6,434 0.00 0.00 GPS
20 Turn of Ridgeline 626087 4006209 6,480 0.16 0.16 GPS
21 Edge of Burn 625614 4006275 6,690 0.34 0.50 GPS
22 Wash Crossing 625264 4006198 6,795 0.53 1.03 GPS
23 Edge of Burn 625405 4006119 6,788 0.14 1.17 GPS
24 Saddle 624773 4005916 7,129 0.56 1.73 GPS
25 Griffith Shadow North Old End 624811 4005551 6,546 . . GPS
12 Trail Forks 626191 4006002 6,434 1.73 3.46 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170425

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