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Short Sawmill Loop Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Spring Mountains (Mt. Charleston), Lee Canyon
Sawmill Loop Trail
Sawmill Loop Trail
Sawmill Trailhead (view NW; Wpt. 01)

Overview

The Short Sawmill Loop Trail is a fairly easy, 1.3-mile loop trail that runs through a middle elevation Pinyon-Juniper Forest. For hikers interested in exploring this habitat type, this is the best choice on Mount Charleston. In addition to the dominant conifers (Singleleaf Pinyon Pine and Utah Juniper), look for Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany, Big Sagebrush, and annual flowers (e,g, Arizona Skyrocket) that change with the seasons. This is also good habitat for Western Scrub-Jay, Juniper Titmouse, and Panamint Chipmunk.

Starting from the upper parking area, the trail runs west, then bends to the south before bending back to the north and east to make a big loop that returns to the same trailhead, approaching from the north.

Link to trail map or elevation profile.

Sawmill Loop Trail
Trailhead sign and pole fence (view NW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ... this is a fairly safe hike without unusual hazards. However, this loop trail is located outside the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area and is open to mountain bikes, so hikers have to watch for bikes careening down the trail. This hike is fine for kids.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this hike isn't too long, so just bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

5Getting to the Trailhead

The trailhead is located up in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (generally referred to as Mt. Charleston), but below Lee Canyon, about 45 minutes northwest of Las Vegas. From town, drive out to the Sawmill Trailhead. This hike starts in the Upper Picnic area.

Sawmill Loop Trail
Approaching first trail junction (view NW)

The Hike

From the upper trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01) near the restrooms, the trail heads northwest past a carsonite trail sign and through a gap in the pole fence.

After what seems like only a few steps (about 50 yards), the trail reaches a junction (Wpt. 02) where the loop starts. Because the trail is a loop, hikers can continue in either direction, but the hike is described as staying to the left (straight).

Continuing northwest, the trail runs out a bit farther, then bends to the left to run south at a bit of a grade. The trail eventually bends (Wpt. 03) back to the north as it drops gradually across the slopes into a broad wash and another trail junction (Wpt. 04). There are several carsonite signs, but none with trail names.

At this fork (Wpt. 04), the Sawmill Loop bends right (north), while the Mud Springs Loop Trail stays left (straight; west). The trail crosses the wash, then starts up a slight hillside to get out of the wash.

Sawmill Loop Trail
First trail junction; here starts the loop (view NW; Wpt. 02)

Continuing, now heading east, the trail climbs a bit, then gradually descends into another trail junction (Wpt. 05). At this T-intersection, again with carsonite signs but no trail names, the Sawmill Loop Trail turns right to head south, while the Blue Tree Loop Trail turns left.

Heading south, the Sawmill Loop Trail runs across the sidehill, then bends left to head east down the gentle hillside into yet another trail junction (Wpt. 06). Here, hikers can continue straight to end the hike in the Lower Sawmill (horse) area, or turn right and return to the Upper Sawmill Picnic area.

Turning right, the trail descends gradually to cross a wash, then continues up across the adjacent gentle slopes where the Picnic Area can be seen through the trees. The trail continues generally southwest to the final trail junction (Wpt. 02), where the hike closes the loop. Turning left at this T-intersection, the trail runs east a few moments to the trailhead (Wpt. 01), thus ending the hike.

Sawmill Loop Trail
Typical carsonite trail sign without trail names (view NW)
Sawmill Loop TrailTrail runs through an open Pinyon-Juniper Woodland
Sawmill Loop Trail Sawmill Loop Trail
Sawmill Loop Trail
Sign along trail at south-most point (Wpt. 03)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Watch for bicycles!
Sawmill Loop Trail Sawmill Loop Trail
Sawmill Loop Trail
Contouring across sidehill (view N)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Bicycle staying right at trail junction (view N; Wpt 04)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail junction -- stay right (view N; Wpt 04)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Carsonite trail sign (view NW)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail beyond junction (view N)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing wash and starting up hillside (view N)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail climbs across hillside (view NE)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Arizona Skyrocket flowering along the trail
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail descends across hillside (view E)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Approaching trail junction (view SE; Wpt. 05)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Carsonite trail junction sign (Wpt. 05)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail departing junction (view S)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Carsonite trail junction sign on tree (Wpt. 05)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Pinyon Pine and Mountain Mahogany thickets along trail (view S)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Open Pine and sagebrush area (view SE)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing gentle slopes (view E)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing gentle slopes (view E)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Approaching trail junction (view E; Wpt. 6)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail junction (view SW; Wpt. 6)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Sign at trail junction (view SW; Wpt. 6)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing gentle slopes (view SW)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing gentle slopes (view SW)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Crossing gentle slopes; watch for picnic tables on the left (view SW)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trail junction -- closing the loop (view SW; Wpt. 02)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Approaching trailhead (view E)
Sawmill Loop Trail
Trailhead (view E)

Table 2. 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
01 Sawmill Trailhead 621985 4023976 7,591 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Trail Junction 621948 4023991 7,589 0.03 0.03 GPS
03 South-most Point 621644 4023727 7,688 0.33 0.36 GPS
04 Trail Junction 621664 4024228 7,667 0.35 0.71 GPS
05 Trail Junction 621861 4024286 7,657 0.17 0.88 GPS
06 Trail Junction 622074 4024204 7,593 0.24 1.12 GPS
02 Trail Junction 621948 4023991 7,589 0.17 1.29 GPS
01 Sawmill Trailhead 621985 4023976 7,591 0.03 1.32 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 141023

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