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Little Falls Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Spring Mountains (Mt. Charleston), Kyle Canyon
Little Falls Trail
Little Falls Trail
Echo Trailhead sign (view NW)

Overview

The Little Falls Trail is a short, 0.3-mile one-way spur trail off the Echo Trail, but it takes at least 0.8 miles, one-way, to get there from the nearest trailhead.

From the trailhead, the trail runs southeast through a forest of pine and fir trees to the base of an avalanche chute where many logs have been piled up by the snow. Staying in the trees and following the edge of the avalanche chute, the trail climbs towards a cleft in the cliffs above. Near the cliffs, pines and firs are left behind, and only flexible trees (aspen, maple) and forbs that can survive avalanches remain. The trail ends in a narrow limestone box-canyon at the base of the Little Falls waterfall where water pours down several, impassible steps during the spring and early summer.

Link to map.
Little Falls Trail

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this trail is more strenuous than it should be, so take it easy at this elevation if you've just come up from the desert (the air is thin up here at nearly 8,000-ft elevation). Other than that, the trail is safe and easy to follow. During much of the year, there is water at the falls, but I'm not sure I would drink it. During winter, watch for ice on the trail and avalanches coming over the falls.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials. The falls are badly covered with graffiti; please respect this area, don't add new graffiti, and report any criminal activity seen. Note that I removed graffiti from the photos because I refuse to give these a**#oles a forum.

Little Falls
Little Falls Trail at Echo Trail (view SW)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Kyle Canyon up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, about 1 hour northwest of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to the Spring Mountains Visitor Center, then continue up the road to the Echo Trailhead.

This trail can also be accessed from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead.

Little Falls
Approaching avalanche chute (view W)

The Hike

From the Echo Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the trail follows the Echo Trail for about 0.54 miles to the trail junction with the Little Falls Trail (Wpt. 05). This part of the hike runs through a ponderosa pine and white fir forest that provides intermittent shade, and then it runs across the base of an avalanche chute choked with logs. For details of this section, see the Echo Trail.

Turning right onto the Little Falls Trail, the trail soon comes alongside a gully full of fallen and tumbled logs. The gully serves as an avalanche chute during winter, and when conditions are just right (just wrong?), huge masses of snow break loose high in the mountains and swoop down the gully knocking down trees and everything else in the way. When the snow comes to rest, the logs and other debris are left behind. The jumble of logs in this gully is a particularly good example of this phenomenon.

Little Falls
Jumbled logs in the avalanche chute (view N)

The trail stays in the trees, following along the side of the avalanche chute, as the grade increases. Fortunately, the fallen logs provide many shady places to sit and relax along the way.

Eventually, as the trail nears the cliffs, the tall trees give way and only flexible trees (e.g., quaking aspen and rocky mountain maple) and forbs survive the winter snow.

The trail finally runs up into a narrow cleft in the limestone cliffs and ends in a narrow box-canyon at the base of the waterfall (Wpt. 04). The bottom of the canyon is littered with broken logs, some of which are quite smooth. This is a nice area to relax in the shade, contemplate the forces of erosion, and maybe watch a broad-tailed hummingbird working the mountain wildflowers. Return to the trailhead by following your footprints back down the trail.

Little Falls
Grand views and quaking aspen in the avalanche chute (view N)
Little Falls
Little Falls Trail in the trees
Little Falls
Little Falls Trail approaching the limestone cliffs
Little Falls
Approaching cliffs and Little Falls (view SW)
Little Falls
Little Falls Trail in the bottom of the canyon
Little Falls
Little Falls Trail entering the narrows
Little Falls
End of the trail at base of Little Falls
Little Falls
Base of Little Falls
Little Falls
Historic water collection structure at base of Little Falls
Little Falls
Historic water collection structure at base of Little Falls
Little Falls
Water still runs in the broken pipe
Little Falls
Log jam in narrow cleft in the falls
Little Falls
Middle section of Little Falls (view S)
Little Falls
Fivepetal Cliffbush (Jamesia americana var. rosea)
Little Falls
Looking down-canyon from base of Little Falls
Little Falls
Looking down-canyon from the narrows
Little Falls
Little Falls
Little Falls
Little Falls

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Echo Trailhead 620941 4013699 7,651 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Old Road Forks, stay right 621128 4013428 7,769 0.27 0.27 GPS
03 Old Road Forks, stay left 621153 4013293 7,772 0.10 0.37 GPS
04 Trail Leaves Old Road 621211 4013219 7,779 0.08 0.45 GPS
05 Echo-Little Falls Trail Junction 621251 4013102 7,766 0.09 0.54 GPS
06 Little Falls 620880 4012963 7,978 0.28 0.82 GPS
01 Echo Trailhead 620941 4013699 7,651 0.82 1.64 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150811

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