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North McCullough Wilderness Area
BLM 100 Trail (Petroglyph Canyon Trail)
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Sloan Canyon NCA
BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 (Petroglyph Canyon) Trailhead (view SE)

Overview

The Petroglyph Canyon Trail (BLM 100 Trail) starts at the Sloan Canyon Trailhead and runs south into the North McCullough Wilderness Area. The trail follows Sloan Canyon Wash for about 2 miles to Petroglyph Canyon. The in-and-out hiking distance is 3.7 miles, but hikers might want to do a 4.4-mile variation that makes a partial loop.

Most of the hike is easy walking in Sloan Wash, but there are several scramble-ups at pour-overs just below Petroglyph Canyon, one of which is minimal 3rd-class, but the BLM 200 Trail (Horseman's Trail) can be used to bypass the pour-overs, and it can be used to make the hike into a partial loop.

Petroglyph Canyon is a special place. For the ancient people who created the artwork, this probably was a spiritual site as there are no signs of habitation in Sloan area. For the rest of us, this is a glimpse into the lives of those who lived here before we did. Please respect the spirituality and history here. Take photographs, leave footprints, don't touch the artwork, and please stay in the wash rather than climbing onto the hillside. Petroglyph Canyon is closed to pets.

Link to map.

BLM 100 Trail
Hikers starting on BLM 100 (Petroglyph Canyon) Trail (view NE)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, there are no particular dangers on this route. There are several pour-overs, one of which is a non-trivial (3rd-class) water-polished 10-footer. It isn't hard if you are willing to climb on the exposed corner, and if you slip from there, you'll land in the sandy wash.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this hike is fairly remote, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work back in the canyons. Bicycles are prohibited on this trail.

This trail leads into a Wilderness area and to a site sacred to Native Americans, so pay particular attention to respecting the land. Don't touch petroglyphs because oils on your hands slowly damage the artwork, and please stay in the bottom of the sandy wash because hikers scrambling around on the hillside are starting to cause erosion. We don't want to see a fence to keep us out, so please show some self restraint in the petroglyph gallery.

BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 (Petroglyph Canyon) Trail starts below parking (view N)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area, on the north side of the North McCullough Wilderness Area. From town, drive south about 30 minutes to the Sloan Canyon Trailhead. The access roads (Via Firenze, Democracy, and Nawghaw Poa) are all paved, but Via Firenze and Democracy remain a construction zone (December 2016).

BLM 100 Trail
Hikers descending hillside towards old trailhead (view E)

The Hike

From the trailhead sign (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the trail runs northeast descending across the hillside below the paved parking area to the old trailhead parking area (Wpt. 02), which can be seen below some 200 yards out.

From the old trailhead sign, the trail continues east on the old access road a few yards into Sloan Wash and the intersection with the BLM 101 Trail (Wpt. 03). The BLM 101 Trail runs east towards Anthem neighborhoods, while the BLM 100 Trail turns right and heads upstream following the main wash.

After about 0.5 miles in Sloan Wash, hikers arrive at an older trailhead. Passing around a cable fence and through an old boulder barricade, hikers arrive at a trail information sign and a trail register (Wpt. 04). The sign provides information about the area and how to responsibly visit an archaeological district. The trail register gives the BLM information about how many people visit the site, which is helpful for determining the amount of money to spend fixing up the area.

BLM 100 Trail
The trail intersects the old trailhead access road (view E)

Beyond the trail sign, the BLM 100 Trail winds up Solan Wash in a fairly narrow, shallow canyon. After a minute or two, the canyon widens and the sides lay back, and the wash runs south.

Because of differences in soils and moisture availability, the vegetation on the hillsides contrasts strongly with that in the wash. On the hillsides, which are dry and rocky, the shrubby vegetation is dominated by creosote bush, white bursage, a few Mojave yucca, and little else. In the wash, the shrubby vegetation is fairly robust and diverse, with lots of creosote bush, desert almond, white bursage, and a fair amount of matchweed, bladder sage, Mormon tea, catclaw acacia, various buckwheats, desert globemallow, and bunchgrasses.

Eventually the canyon begins to narrow (Wpt. 05), giving the feeling of hiking in a canyon rather than in an open wash. Below here, the sides of the wash are gentle and rock strewn; above here, the hillsides are steeper with rocky outcrops.

BLM 100 Trail
Hikers at old trailhead parking (view E)

In this area, watch the edges of the wash for good examples of volcanic landslide materials. These are now conglomerate rocks that look like rocks and boulders of various sizes mixed in a reddish-brown matrix. These cliffs formed when volcanic ash and boulders rolled down the hillside as lava was pushing to the surface. As the rocks cooled, the material solidified, creating the rock that we see today.

At a sharp bend to the left in Sloan Wash, a trail sign marks the BLM 100-BLM 200 trail junction (Wpt. 06). The BLM 100 Trail continues left following the broad, sandy wash to the south, while the BLM 200 trail (Horseman's Trail) turns right and heads up the narrow side canyon to the west. The Horseman's Trail does not require any scrambling and is suitable for horses, but it is about 3/4-miles farther to the petroglyph gallery.

Continuing up Sloan Wash, hikers soon encounter the first pour-over (Wpt. 07). This pour-over is easily passed using a use-trail on the east edge of the wash or by just clambering up the rocks (be careful on the slick, sand-covered rocks).

BLM 100 Trail
Hikers at BLM 100 Trail sign (view E)

The rocks of this pour-over are interesting; they are the outer edge of the core of a small, extinct volcano. Note that the rocks appear to be layered, and that the layers are inclined nearly vertically. This layering occurs when magma is moving, and the inclined layers indicate vertical movement.

Above here, the canyon walls get vertical, but not too high. Watch for bird nests in the Catclaw Acacia in the wash and petroglyphs on the rock walls, but also notice that the rock layers are now horizontal. Horizontal layering indicates horizontal movement of magma -- evidence that this was the top of the volcano and that the magma was spreading sideways. In fact, at this point, hikers are standing inside the core of the old volcano.

About 0.2 miles above the first pour-over, the canyon jogs to the right (west) and narrows abruptly. The narrows contain more pour-overs, and hikers wishing to avoid them can do so by exiting the canyon to the left (south) at the last possible moment and hiking up and over the ridge. Be sure to angle southwest and back into Sloan Wash.

Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 Trail (Sloan Canyon) trailhead (view E)

In the narrows (Wpt. 08), there are three short, water-polished scramble-ups followed by a 10-foot pour-over where the canyon is blocked by a large boulder. In all cases, the rock is smooth and slippery. The last pour-over is fairly easy to climb on the left side of the wash (minimal 3rd-class) or on the right side of the wash with a bit more exposure (still minimal 3rd-class).

It is hard for the untrained eye to see, but in the narrows, hikers exit the core of one extinct volcano and enter another!

Just above the 10-foot pour-over, the canyon jogs left (south) and widens considerably. This straight section of wash is Petroglyph Canyon (Wpt. 09). Amazing petroglyphs decorate both sides of the canyon here, and in some places, almost every boulder is marked. See many photos posted here. Please respect the history of this area and don't touch, mark, or otherwise mess with the petroglyphs. Report vandalism to the BLM or just call 911.

Sloan Canyon
Hikers starting on Sloan Canyon trail (view E)

For the return, hikers can either hike back down Sloan Wash or make a partial loop by continuing up Sloan Wash and using the BLM 200 trail (Horseman's Trail) to loop back to the trailhead.

For hikers intending to use the BLM 200 trail to make a partial loop, the BLM 100 trail continues past the petroglyph gallery (Table 2, Wpt 09) following Sloan Wash south.

Shortly, Sloan Wash arrives at a large side wash coming in from the left (Wpt 10). This side wash makes for an interesting hike, but the BLM 100 Trail stays right following the main wash.

Staying in the main wash, notice boulders along both sides with interesting rock art. In addition, notice the cliffs that tower above the wash on the south side. Trace the layering in the cliffs and figure out what was going on here (yes, another extinct volcano).

BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 Trail enters Sloan Wash (view SE)

In about 0.3 miles past the main petroglyph gallery, hikers encounter another trail sign in the middle of the wash (Wpt. 11). At this point, the BLM 100 Trail ends. The BLM 300 Trail continues southwest and up the main wash, and the BLM 200 Trail (Horseman's Trail) makes a hard right turn, exits the wash, and starts up across the hillside angling back down the canyon.

It is important to pay attention here because this trail junction has been the source of confusion for several hiking parties, some of whom barely made it out alive.

When hiking up Sloan Canyon, if you intend to hike back on the BLM 200 Trail (Horseman's Trail), DO NOT PASS THE TRAIL SIGN. Instead, from the trail sign, immediately turn right and climb out of the wash heading northeast. The trail is plainly visible when looking in this direction.

For details of the BLM 200 Trail (Horseman's Trail), see the description of the hike heading southbound, but for hikers returning over this trail, see the photos and brief description of hiking northbound back towards the trailhead. Heading back, the next Waypoint is #12, which sits atop a saddle to the north of the trail junction.

BLM 100 Trail
Sign at BLM 100 -- BLM 101 trail junction (view SE)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 -- BLM 101 Trail junction sign (view S)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 Trail runs in Sloan Wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Trail continues up the wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 Trail runs in Sloan Canyon Wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 Trail runs in Sloan Canyon Wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker passing historic trailhead barricade
Sloan Canyon
Trail information sign and sign-in register (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Trail information (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Trail continues up the wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Entering North McCullough Wilderness Area (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Trail follows the wash (view SW)
Sloan Canyon
Approaching the BLM 100 -- BLM 200 trail junction (view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
Approaching the BLM 100 -- BLM 200 trail junction (view SW)
Sloan Canyon
Hikers at BLM 100 -- BLM 200 trail junction (view SW)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 -- BLM 200 trail junction sign (view SW)
Sloan Canyon
BLM 100 -- BLM 200 trail junction sign (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hikers continuing up Sloan Wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Continuing past trail junction (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Nearing the first pour-over (view S)
Sloan Canyon
First pour-over (note hiker on bypass; view S)
Sloan Canyon
First pour-over (note hiker climbing pour-over; view S)
Sloan Canyon
Hikers just above first pour-over (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Continuing up the wash (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on low pour-over (just a step-up; view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
Last possible exit before the narrows with pour-overs (view S)
Sloan Canyon
Narrow canyon with pour-overs can be bypassed left (view SW)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on first pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker atop first pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Second pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker halfway up second pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker atop second pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Narrow canyon (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Third pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on third pour-over in the narrows (view W)
Sloan Canyon
The big one: the 10-foot-high, fourth pour-over (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on left edge (harder side) of slabs bypass (view W)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on right edge (easier side) of slabs bypass (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Hiker on stone ladder bypass (view NW)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker on stone ladder bypass (view NW)
Sloan Canyon
Hiker dropping off the stone ladder bypass (view NW)
BLM 100 Trail
Hikers arriving in the petroglyph gallery (view S)
BLM 100 TrailHikers in the petroglyph gallery (view S). Stay in the wash. Sloan Canyon
Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Gallery: both sides of the wash are marked
sloan canyon
One of many petroglyph-marked boulders [more photos]
BLM 100 Trail
One of many wild petroglyphs [more photos]
BLM 100 Trail
Don't be the idiot that vandalizes rock art
BLM 100 Trail
Defacing rock art is a crime - don't do this!

BLM 100 Trail continues up Sloan Wash past the Petroglyph gallery

BLM 100 Trail
Upper BLM 100 Trail continues past Petroglyph gallery (view S)
BLM 100 Trail
Main wash bends to the right (view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
Hikers in Upper Sloan Wash (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Upper BLM 100 Trail continues up Sloan Wash (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Hikers in Upper Sloan Wash (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Petroglyphs in Upper Sloan Wash
BLM 100 Trail
Approaching BLM 100-200-300 trail junction (view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 Trail ends at trail junction (view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
End of BLM 100 Trail, BLM 200 Trail, and BLM 300 Trail (view SW)
BLM 100 Trail
Trail marker in Sloan Wash (view W)
BLM 100 TrailIntersection of three trails (view N) BLM 100 Trail
Hikers turning onto BLM 200 Trail
BLM 100 Trail BLM 100 Trail
BLM 100 Trail
Beyond the trail junction, BLM 300 stays left (view W)
BLM 100 Trail
Beyond the trail junction, BLM 300 stays left (view W)

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)
01 Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead 669171 3976082 2,954 0.00 0.00
02 Petroglyph Canyon Trail Sign 669373 3976109 2,814 0.18 0.18
03 BLM100-BLM101 Trail Junction 669442 3976067 2,861 0.05 0.23
04 Sloan Canyon Trail Register 669331 3975256 2,921 0.54 0.77
05 Canyon Narrows 669327 3974673 2,995 0.42 1.19
06 BLM100-BLM200 Trail Junction 669282 3974452 2,990 0.18 1.37
07 First Pour-Overs 669437 3974282 3,043 0.16 1.53
08 Narrows 669457 3974023 3,086 0.24 1.77
09 Petroglyph Gallery 669398 3973973 3,162 0.06 1.83
01 Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead 669171 3976082 2,954 0.18 3.66

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S) for continuing up Sloan Wash and making a partial loop back to the trailhead using the BLM 200 Trail. Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi)
09 Petroglyph Gallery 669398 3973973 3,162 0.06 1.83
10 Washes Merge 669401 3973765 3,169 0.15 1.98
11 BLM100-BLM200-BLM300 Trail Jct 669059 3973636 3,225 0.28 2.26
12 Saddle 669019 3973890 3,306 0.21 2.47
13 Built Trail Leaves Wash 669066 3974245 3,105 0.31 2.78
06 BLM100-BLM200 Trail Junction 669282 3974452 2,990 0.24 3.02
05 Canyon Narrows 669327 3974673 2,995 0.18 3.20
04 Sloan Canyon Trail Register 669331 3975256 2,921 0.42 3.62
03 BLM100-BLM101 Trail Junction 669442 3976067 2,861 0.53 4.15
02 Petroglyph Canyon Trail Sign 669373 3976109 2,814 0.06 4.21
01 Petroglyph Canyon Trailhead 669171 3976082 2,954 0.18 4.39

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170629

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