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Birdspring Peak Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rocks National Conservation Area, Mt Potosi Area
Birdspring Peak
Birdspring PeakBirdspring Peak Trailhead parking (view N)

Overview

The Birdspring Range runs north-south along the eastern flank of Mt. Potosi and forms a small part of the southwestern margin of the Las Vegas Valley. Birdspring Peak is little more than a hill compared to the nearby mountains, but the 3.7-mile round-trip hike to this peak overlooking Red Rock Canyon NCA and the Las Vegas Valley makes for a very pleasant, easy, off-trail adventure in a scenic place.

Views from the summit are surprisingly grand for such a low peak. While the view west is blocked by the nearby Mt. Potosi, views northeast stretch into Utah, views east extend over northern Arizona, and views south reach into California.

The west side of the ridge burned in the Goodsprings Fire, and it is interesting to see patches for desert scrub that escaped the fire, as well as how the vegetation is recovering. Among the shrubs, the bedrock is full of interesting fossil shells, corals, and sponges.

Link to map.

Birdspring Peak
Birdspring Peak Trailhead (view N)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...much of the easiest hiking is right along the crest of the ridge where the slope to the west is moderately steep and the slope to the east is near-vertical for hundreds of feet. This probably isn't a good hike for young children or dogs. Cottonwood Valley is a popular area for mountain bikers, so watch for bicycles careening down the road.

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 is a short hike, the area is remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Birdspring Peak
Route follows an old road (view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located about 1 hour southwest of town on the edge of the Las Vegas valley along the base of Mt. Potosi between Blue Diamond and Goodsprings, and inside Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

From Las Vegas, drive south on I-15 then west on Highway 160 (Pahrump Highway) to the Cottonwood Valley Trailhead, which is about 200 yards down the Cottonwood Valley Road. Continue south on Cottonwood Valley Road for 3.2 miles to Cottonwood Pass. Getting onto the pass requires a 4WD vehicle.

From Cottonwood Pass, continue south on Cottonwood Valley Road for 0.3 miles to Birdspring Trailhead, the first wide spot on the left after the pass. This is a closed road; watch for carsonite signs posted "no vehicles." Park here; this is the trailhead.

Birdspring Peak
Old road crosses a mountain bike trail (view N)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route runs north on the old road, which recently was closed. The old road winds about, generally trending north-northeast, passing a bike trail, and running out onto a broad flat area at the top of a north-trending canyon. The old road bends hard to the right and brings hikers to a nice overlook of the canyon, which escaped the Goodsprings Fire.

Now heading east-southeast on the old road, the grade increases and winds about until reaching a saddle (Wpt. 02) on the crest of the Birdspring Range. The saddle provides grand views northeast into the Las Vegas Valley where all of the taller building are visible.

The road is not the most direct route, and some hikers might want to use an alternative, more direct, off-trail route, but it only saves 0.2 miles in getting to the saddle.

Birdspring Peak
View up canyon to the north

At the saddle, consider walking 1-2 minutes out of the way to Birdspring Overlook at the end of the old road. The view is somewhat better than that from the saddle.

From the saddle (Wpt. 02), the route turns north and follows faint and intermittent game trails up the crest of the ridge. The first five minutes or so of hiking are the steepest of the entire route. After the route crests out on the first little peaklet (Wpt. 03), the rest of the journey is a pleasant walk on the fairly level summit ridge.

The route runs north along the crest of the ridge, climbing over little summits and dropping through each little saddle. The elevation changes are slight and the grades are gentle. Eventually, the route passes a little peaklet with a large cairn (Wpt 04). It would seem that this is the summit, but alas, it is a false summit.

Birdspring Peak
Old road bends right and climbs towards the skyline (view E)

Continuing north, the route eventually climbs onto the true summit (Wpt. 05). As far a summits go, this might be a disappointment, but the point of the hike is a nice stroll in the desert, so this peak works just fine. Rather than a summit cairn or summit register, however, this summit is marked with a big buckhorn cholla that can be seen from some distance on account of the fire clearing off most vegetation.

Views from the summit (Wpt. 05) are surprisingly grand for such a low peak. To the north, views include the Red Rock Escarpment and the La Madre Range, and behind them, the summits of Mt. Charleston and Mummy Mountain. Turning eastward, the Sheep Range, Las Vegas Range, Muddy Mountains, Mormon Mountains, and the mountains above St. George, UT, can be seen. The Virgin Mountains, Grand Wash Cliffs, and many mountain ranges across northern Arizona are visible, including (I think) Hualapai Peak beyond Kingman, AZ. The North and South McCullough Mountains, the New York Mountains, and the Clark Range can be seen south. The view west is blocked by Mt. Potosi, but oh what a view of Potosi and the Carol Lombard Crash Site!

Birdspring Peak
The old road gets a bit steep (view E)

Looking north from the true summit, a broad, rounded peak looks as if it might be higher; it is not. However, despite the grand views from the true summit, hikers might enjoy a bit more hiking along the ridgeline to Peak 5,298 (Wpt. 06).

Peak 5,298 might be named on the USGS Topo Map because surveyors would have worked there rather than the actual summit because Peak 5,298 has a somewhat better view directly north. It doesn't really matter where the "true" summit is, so just walk the remaining few minutes to Peak 5,298, enjoying the view and the extra time in the desert. There is even a small summit register atop Peak 5,298, but bring some paper and a pencil.

Relax, eat lunch, take a few photos, and then walk back down the ridge to the trailhead. For hikers who didn't see bighorn sheep on the way up, keep a closer eye out on the way down.

Everything looks different on the way down, and photos of the descent are presented here.

Birdspring Peak
Hiker arriving at the saddle (view E)
Birdspring Peak
Saddle (view E)
Birdspring Peak
Las Vegas (view NE from the saddle)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the saddle
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the saddle
Birdspring Peak
The route follows Birdspring Ridge (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Birdspring Ridge (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Joshua Tree sprouting from the burned stump
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Over the east edge (view NE)
Birdspring Peak
Hiker climbing the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Hiker on the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Hiker nearing the first peaklet on the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Bunch grass and interesting red mineral deposit
Birdspring Peak
Hiker at the first peaklet on the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
First grand view up the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
A patch of desert vegetation that escaped the fire (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Fossils on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Fossils and Utah Agave on the ridge
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Approaching the false summit with cairn (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Cairn on false summit (view NE)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Approaching the true summit (view N)
Birdspring PeakTrue summit without (view N) Birdspring Peak
True summit (view NNE towards Red Rocks and La Madre Mtn)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view N up ridgeline and towards Las Vegas)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view NE towards Las Vegas and mountains in Utah)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view SE towards mountains in Arizona)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view SE towards mountains in California)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view W towards Mt. Potosi)
Birdspring Peak
True summit (view N towards Peak 5298)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Route follows the ridgeline (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Approaching broad, rounded summit of Peak 5298 (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Summit of Peak 5298 (view N)
Birdspring Peak
Summit cairn at Peak 5298 (view N towards Red Rocks)
Birdspring Peak
Summit cairn at Peak 5298 (view NE towards Las Vegas)
Birdspring Peak
Rather spread out summit cairn at Peak 5298
Birdspring Peak
Summit register (small tin) inside the summit cairn

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances 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 Trailhead 640945 3979769 4,825 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Saddle 641748 3980100 5,053 0.82 0.82 GPS
03 First Peaklet 641726 3980288 5,025 0.14 0.96 GPS
04 False Summit 641605 3980954 5,210 0.45 1.41 GPS
05 Summit 641659 3981194 5,311 0.16 1.57 GPS
06 Peak 5298 641808 3981532 5,298 0.26 1.83 GPS
01 Trailhead 640945 3979769 4,825 1.83 3.66 GPS
. . . . . . . GPS
01 Trailhead 640945 3979769 4,825 0.00 0.00 GPS
Alt 01 Depart Road 640967 3979752 4,836 0.02 0.02 GPS
Alt 02 Canyon Below Outcrop 641342 3980026 4,933 0.31 0.33 GPS
Alt 03 Merge With Old Road 641607 3980123 4,996 0.19 0.52 GPS
02 Saddle 641748 3980100 5,053 0.09 0.61 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150120

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