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Calico Basin East
Peak 3844 West Loop Trail

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

Overview

This 4-mile loop starts along Calico Basin Road, shortly before the housing area, and runs north and west using interconnected use-trails that criss-cross the desert to make a loop. Hikers need to pay attention to the many trail junctions. The hike generally runs north to the mouth of Gateway Canyon, turns east on old roads and then south, climbing onto the summit of Peak 3844. The hike descends off the north side of the peak, and 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 West Loop
Trailhead at edge of road (view NW)

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 West LoopWash along edge or houses (view NW)

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 the main Calico Wash Trailhead. Continue around the curve for about 0.2 miles. Before getting to a shallow wash, watch for an unmarked use-trail that runs north. Pull well off the road and park here; this is the Calico Wash West Trailhead.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Passing fenced private property (view NW; Wpt. 31)

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 or old roads, hike north to the mouth of Gateway Canyon, turn east on an old road to catch the north toe of the summit ridge, hike south to the summit (Peak 3844), and then cut down and north before curving back to the trailhead.

From the West Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 30), a use-trail, heavily used by horseback riders, leads northwest. After 3-4 steps, the trail crosses a trail running parallel to the road: this is the return trail.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail joins old road (view NW; Wpt. 32)

Continuing northwest, in a few more steps another trail merges from the left, and thereafter all trails run northwest along the edge of a wash. The other side of the wash is private property so please say along the trail.

Eventually the trail is forced onto the hillside above the wash to pass the corner of fenced property (Wpt. 31). The trail descends and again follows the edge of the wash, eventually merging with an old road (Wpt. 32) that comes from across the wash.

Following the old road along the wash, the road eventually forks (Wpt 33). The left fork runs back onto private property, while the right fork runs up onto a low ridge heading northeast.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Old road forks (view NW; Wpt. 33)

Heading northeast and away from the residential area, the old road forks at a point with twin powerpoles (Wpt. 34). Hikers can turn hard to the left to pick up a trail, or they can follow the road to the left.

Continuing north on the trail, the trail eventually merges with the old road near the mouth of Gateway Canyon. There are a plethora of old road and trails in this area, but the goal is to get to the base of the red cliffs to the north, and then turn east on an old road. A short-cut trail leaves the old road at a curve (Wpt. 37) and cuts northeast to rejoin the same road (Wpt. 38) under the red crags.

Rather than taking the short-cut, hikers may want to wander along trails and old roads that lead up into the mouth of Gateway Canyon; the area is scenic and provides some shade.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Route follows old road onto low ridge (view NE)

Continuing east on the old road (Wpt. 38), the hike follows the old road along the crags and out into a broad, open valley, surprisingly with views of Las Vegas.

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.

The old road passes a trail junction to the right (Wpt. 39) and continues eastward. Eventually the road bends to the south, crosses the powerline road (Wpt. 40), and climbs straight up the steep hillside to a powerpole.

Shortly past the powerpole, the now gently sloped road merges with another road coming from the left (Wpt. 41), and together the road winds along the hillside heading south.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Road fork at twin powerpoles; turn hard left onto trail (view NE; Wpt. 34)

Near the top of the ridge, the Red Rock cliffs come into view, as does the summit of Peak 3844. The old road eventually gains the top of the ridge (Wpt. 12) and merges with a trail coming in from the right.

Following the old road south, the trail runs out onto 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.

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.

Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail heading towards Gateway Canyon (view N)

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 West Loop
Dropping into mouth of Gateway Canyon (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) and continues to the southwest.

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 main trailhead), and then descends towards a gully. At a fork in the trail (Wpt. 05), the hike stays right staying on the contour across the hillside (route does not descend to the main trailhead). Continuing over the ridgeline, the trail descends to the trailhead (Wpt. 30).

Peak 3844 West Loop
Mouth of Gateway Canyon and Turtlehead Peak (view NW)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail leaves old road (view NE)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail joins old road (view E)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Colorful sandstone (view E)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail junction; stay on old road (view E)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Old road (view E)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Old road begins curving south (view SE)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Old road crosses powerline road (view S)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Beyond steep part, old road levels out (view SW)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Peak 3844 in the distance (view S)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Red Rock cliffs in the distance (view W)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Trail joins old road from the right (view S)
Peak 3844 Loop
Trail follows old road up ridgeline (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 West Loop Peak 3844 West Loop
Peak 3844 West Loop
Crest of ridge before descending towards trailhead (view W)
Peak 3844 West Loop
Descending towards trailhead (view W)

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
30 Trailhead, West 643247 4001252 3,547 0.00 0.00 Yes
31 Property Corner 643024 4001647 3,603 0.29 0.29 GPS
32 Old Road 642850 4001977 3,624 0.27 0.56 GPS
33 Old Roads Junction 642709 4002180 3,650 0.16 0.72 GPS
34 Trail Leaves Old Road 643003 4002534 3,758 0.31 1.03 GPS
35 Trail Joins Old Road 643103 4002854 3,765 0.23 1.26 GPS
36 Trail Junction to Gateway Canyon 643090 4002943 3,769 0.06 1.32 GPS
37 Trail Departs Old Road 643127 4002960 3,752 0.03 1.35 GPS
38 Trail Joins Old Road 643198 4002958 3,755 0.05 1.40 GPS
39 Trail Junction 643626 4002824 3,694 0.30 1.70 GPS
40 Old Road Junction 644217 4002609 3,624 0.44 2.14 GPS
41 Trail Junction 644279 4002521 3,694 0.07 2.21 GPS
12 Trail Junction 644158 4002148 3,734 0.29 2.50 GPS
13 View Point 644252 4002024 3,778 0.10 2.60 GPS
14 End of Old Road 644243 4001993 3,778 0.02 2.62 Yes
15 Trail Junction 644190 4001819 3,769 0.12 2.74 Yes
16 Summit (Peak 3844) 644161 4001755 3,816 0.06 2.80 Yes
15 Trail Junction 644190 4001819 3,769 0.05 2.85 Yes
08 Trail Junction 643890 4002028 3,588 0.27 3.12 Yes
07 Trail Junction 643850 4001930 3,566 0.08 3.20 Yes
06 Trail Junction 643736 4001599 3,542 0.23 3.43 Yes
05 Trail Junction 643613 4001437 3,568 0.15 3.58 Yes
20 Trail Junction 643588 4001318 3,564 0.08 3.66 Yes
30 Trailhead, West 643247 4001252 3,547 0.23 3.89 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130110

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