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Calico Basin East
Peak 3844 Ridges Loop Trail

Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon NCA
Peak 3844 Loop
Peak 3844 Loop
Calico Wash Trailhead

Overview

This 2-3/4-mile loop starts along Calico Basin Road, shortly before reaching the housing area, and runs north and east using interconnected use-trails that criss-cross the desert to make a loop. Hikers need to pay attention to faint trails at junctions. The hike runs north towards Kraft Mountain to near a highpoint, turns east and then south climb onto to the summit of Peak 3844. The hike descends off the north side of the peak, then runs southwest back to the trailhead.

This is a surprisingly pleasant hike with grand scenery, a nice craggy peak, and even solitude -- all on an easy hike starting only minutes from town.

Link to area map or trail map.

Peak 3844 Loop
Only a few steps from the pavement, turn left

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe, but the peak is craggy, so always be extra careful near edges where you could fall and hurt yourself.

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, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Peak 3844 Loop
From a distance, the sign reads "Area Closed," but it means 'closed to motor vehicles' - this is the trail

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes from town, but not on the Scenic Loop Road. Drive out West Charleston Blvd, turn right towards Calico Basin, then drive north 0.4 miles to Calico Wash Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead. Watch for vehicles on the road.

Peak 3844 Loop
Start of the loop; faint trail left (Wpt. 04)

The Hike

Because there are so many interconnected use-trails in this area, trails established by hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and even vehicles for various purposes, the route description sounds convoluted and confusing. In reality it is simple: always staying on well defined use-trails, hike north to a high point, turn east to catch the north toe of Peak 3844, hike south to the summit, then cut down and north before curving back to the trailhead.

The only potential for error is missing the faint trail junction at Waypoint 04, however, this junction is only 150 yards from the pavement, so pay careful attention for the first 3-4 minutes, then just follow the terrain around to the peak and back.

Peak 3844 Loop
Trail junction; continue straight up ridge (Wpt. 20)

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), a use-trail leads east along the edge of the wash for about 30 yards to a trail junction (Wpt. 02). A wide trail (wide enough to look like a road) forks left and runs uphill past an "Area Closed to Motorized Vehicles" sign (a narrow trail continues straight). This hike runs up the hill.

At about 80 yards from the pavement (Wpt. 03), a trail merges from the left. This is an alternate start to this hike.

At about 150 yards from the pavement (Wpt. 04), a relatively faint trail forks to the left. Stay left and climb directly up the ridge (note that this hike returns on the right fork). If hikers miss this trail junction and reach the junction of another large trail several minutes out, turn left and hike west on the crest of the ridge to rejoin this hike.

Peak 3844 Loop
Kraft Mountain in front of the La Madre Mtns

Staying left at the trail junction (Wpt. 04), the hike runs up the crest of the ridge. At about 265 yards out, the hike crosses a larger trail (Wpt. 20) and continues up the ridgeline.

In less than 400 yards from the pavement, the hike has climbed onto a high, flat ridgetop with grand views in all directions, but especially to the north where the pink Kraft Mountain stands in front of the gray La Madre Mountains.

Through this area, the vegetation is sparse, but typical Mojave Desert Scrub, with a diverse assemblage of shrubs such as Creosote Bush and White Bursage, Mojave Yucca, Spiny Menodora, Nevada Jointfir, Indigo Bush, and several other other species. Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus is also common through here.

Peak 3844 Loop

The flat ridgeline doesn't stay flat, but it follows pleasantly moderate grades heading north. From the ridge, there are nice views east towards Peak 3844, giving hikers a good idea of where they are going.

The trail on the ridge is faint, but easy to follow. Near a highpoint, the trail forks (Wpt. 21). The hike stays right and soon bends to the east and starts downhill into a broad saddle between this highpoint and the north toe of Peak 3844.

Heading downhill, a trail merges from the north (Wpt. 22), and both continue east. Near the bottom of the saddle, the hike crosses first one trail (Wpt. 23) and then another (Wpt. 24). The hike continues straight across both trails heading east and starts up onto the north toe of Peak 3844.

Peak 3844 Loop
Trail on flat ridgeline (view N)

The trail winds about then runs up the side of the ridge following the tilted layers of limestone. Rocky benches are festooned with cactus, especially Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus and California Barrel Cactus in this area.

The trail eventually gains the top of the ridge at a low point with a nice view east across the Las Vegas valley. A few yards farther, the trail merges with an old road (Wpt. 12) that comes up from the east side of the ridge.

Following the old road, the trail gains a broad, flat highpoint (Wpt. 13) where vehicles stopped. I can image that this would have been a nice place to park and watch the lights of town at night.

Peak 3844 Loop
Trail on flat ridgeline (view N)

From the far south end of the old road (Wpt. 14), a use-trail continues along the ridge heading for the summit. Stunted Engelmann's Hedgehog Cactus and Utah agave are thick along the ridgeline.

At the base of the summit block (Wpt. 15), the trail splits. A spur trail continues to the summit (Wpt. 16), but the loop turns right and starts down the steep north side of the peak.

Continuing to the summit (Wpt. 16), the faint use-trail is hard to follow because of so much bedrock, but the route is obvious. Atop the summit, the views are grand for such a low peak. The 360-view includes the Red Rock Cliffs, the Calico Hills, the La Madre Range, the Las Vegas Range, Virgin Peak, the Muddy Mountains, peaks in Gold Butte, Wilson Mountain over in Arizona, the North McCullough range, perhaps the New York Mountains, the South McCullough ranges, and of course, Blue Diamond Hill.

Peak 3844 Loop
Trail forks (Wpt. 05) near highpoint (view N)

Departing the summit, the route backtracks to base of the summit block (Wpt. 15), then turns left and heads west and northwest down the north side of the peak. Notice here the difference in vegetation from the more sunny south and west-facing slopes. Even desert almond grows here, a species usually restricted to washes.

Descending to the northwest, the trail crosses a wash and intersects a trail running along the hillside (Wpt. 08). Turning left, the hike runs downhill and quickly merges with a trail coming in from the right (Wpt. 07). These are the two trails that were crossed in quick succession on the ridgeline before starting up the ridge towards the peak.

The trail passes a junction (Wpt. 06) with a faint trail to the left, runs up over a ridge (with a view down to the trailhead), and then descends towards a gully. At a fork in the trail (Wpt. 05), the hike stays left and descends to a trail junction (Wpt. 04) that closes the loop and continues to the trailhead (Wpt. 01).

Peak 3844 Loop
Starting downhill into a broad saddle (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Trail merges from the north (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Near bottom of saddle, the hike crosses first one trail (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Near bottom of saddle, the hike crosses another trail (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Climbing onto north ridge of Peak 3844 (view SE)
Peak 3844 Loop
Climbing onto north ridge of Peak 3844 (view SE)
Peak 3844 Loop
Atop north ridge of Peak 3844 (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Trail follows old road (view S)
Peak 3844 Loop
Broad, flat parking area at end of old road (view E)
Peak 3844 Loop
Beyond old road, trail continues towards peak (view S)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Trail forks at base of summit block (view W)
Peak 3844 Loop
Summit (view NE)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Descending the steep and rocky north side of the peak (view NW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Descending the steep north side of the peak (view NW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Descending the nice, north side of the peak (view NW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Intersecting a trail across the wash (view NW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
The way back (view SW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Merging with a trail (triangle intersection)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Faint trail to the left (view SW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Trail junction before descending towards the trailhead (view SW)
Peak 3844 Ridges
Returning to the trailhead (view SW)
more to come ...

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Calico East Area Waypoints (*.gpx) file. File includes all Calico East Area Hiking Waypoints.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead, Main 643610 4001122 3,465 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 Trail Junction 643632 4001137 3,489 0.02 0.02 Yes
03 Trail Junction 643642 4001178 3,504 0.04 0.05 GPS
04 Trail Junction 643640 4001235 3,521 0.03 0.09 Yes
20 Trail Junction 643588 4001318 3,564 0.07 0.16 GPS
21 Trail Junction 643380 4002312 3,773 0.66 0.82 GPS
22 Trail Junction 643512 4002355 3,730 0.12 0.94 GPS
23 Trail Junction 643741 4002338 3,686 0.14 1.08 Yes
24 Trail Junction 643815 4002364 3,668 0.05 1.13 Yes
12 Trail Junction 644158 4002148 3,734 0.32 1.45 GPS
13 View Point 644252 4002024 3,778 0.10 1.55 GPS
14 End of Old Road 644243 4001993 3,778 0.02 1.57 Yes
15 Trail Junction 644190 4001819 3,769 0.12 1.69 Yes
16 Summit (Peak 3844) 644161 4001755 3,816 0.05 1.74 Yes
15 Trail Junction 644190 4001819 3,769 0.05 1.79 Yes
08 Trail Junction 643890 4002028 3,588 0.27 2.06 Yes
07 Trail Junction 643850 4001930 3,566 0.08 2.14 Yes
06 Trail Junction 643736 4001599 3,542 0.23 2.37 Yes
05 Trail Junction 643613 4001437 3,568 0.14 2.51 Yes
04 Trail Junction 643640 4001235 3,521 0.14 2.65 Yes
03 Trail Junction 643642 4001178 3,504 0.04 2.69 GPS
02 Trail Junction 643632 4001137 3,489 0.03 2.72 Yes
01 Trailhead, Main 643610 4001122 3,465 0.02 2.74 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130109

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