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White Hills Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Meadow Valley Range Wilderness Area
White Hills
White Hills
Trailhead parking (view NE)

Overview

The White Hills Route is a nice, 3-mile introduction to hiking in the Meadow Valley Range Wilderness Area. The route starts up a wash, climbs a short, but steep hillside onto a ridgeline, then climbs at more moderate rates to the summit of the White Hills. The area burned in a huge 150,000-acre fire in 2005, and even after a dozen years of recovery, the vegetation is sparse, but that makes for free and open hiking.

These mountains are volcanic, and the route traverses lava hillsides and climbs onto white volcanic ash deposits (the White Hills). There are many route possibilities, and this route is fairly safe and easy, but the slopes of the white hills are crumbly (like smooth rock covered with gravel), so hikers should avoid steep white hillsides.

Views from the summit are grand with Sunflower Mountain to the northeast, volcanic cliffs all around, and a nice view down into Meadow Valley Wash to the northwest.

Link to map.

White Hills
Meadow Valley Range sign (view SE from trailhead)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about driving and hiking in the desert, ... this route is pretty safe, but the slopes of the white hills are crumbly (like smooth rock covered with fine gravel), so hikers should avoid steep white hillsides.

This area is remote, so be careful out there as help is a long way off.

Sunflower Road, the access road, is a two-track that requires a 2WD-HC or higher vehicle. If concerned, hikers could walk the 0.8-mile access road, adding 1.6 miles to the round-trip hike (still less than 5 miles round trip).

While out, please respect the land (this is a wilderness area) and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road goes into remote areas, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials. Cell phones don't work.

White Hills
Meadow Valley Range Wilderness Area boundary sign (view SE)

Getting to the Trailhead

The White Hills Route is located in Lincoln County, east of Highway 93 and a bit north of Coyote Springs in the Meadow Valley Range Wilderness Area.

From Las Vegas, drive north on Interstate-15 to Highway 93. Drive north on Highway 93 for 31 miles to Highway 168 (east to Moapa), then continue north another 11 miles (42 miles total) to Kane Springs Road on the right. Watch for a sign on the right to the village of Elgin.

Turn right onto Kane Springs Road and drive northeast 14.0 miles to Sunflower Road, a narrow dirt road on the right. Turn right onto Sunflower Road and drive southeast 0.8 miles to the trailhead on the edge of the Meadow Valley Range Wilderness Area. Park here; this is the trailhead.

White Hills
Departing the trailhead (view NE)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the route follows the major wash northeast along the base of a high ridge on the left. At about 0.28 miles out, the wash widens and begins to fork (Wpt. 02). Here the route stays right, and by about 0.38 miles out (Wpt. 03), the route is heading southeast following the right fork of the wash. In this burned area, it is easier to walk across the open desert south of the wash than it is to walk in the wash.

The route soon runs up into a canyon where steeper slopes on the right encourage hikers back into the wash bottom. After passing cliffs, the wash forks (Wpt. 04) again. Note: for hikers heading to Sunflower Peak, the wash to the left is not a particularly good way to go.

Staying right at the fork, now heading south, the wash passes the cliffs and the hillside on the right becomes only "quite steep," but at least it is not high.

White Hills

Leaving the wash (Wpt. 05) to the right, the route climbs steeply up and across the hillside to the top of the ridge (Wpt. 06). Now on more gentle terrain, the route follows the top of the ridge south until encountering the east toe (Wpt. 07) of the white ash that forms the White Hills.

Turning southwest, the route follows game-trails up the steep hillside until leveling out on the upper slopes. Continuing southwest, the route gradually climbs onto the summit (Wpt. 08) of the White Hills. Continuing a little farther (Wpt. 09), hikers arrive at a nice overlook with grand views all around.

Returning to the trailhead, hikers probably can find several ways down, but the gravel-covered white rocks are not conducive to safe travel, so following your footprints back down is the path of least resistance.

White Hills
Passing a Wilderness Boundary sign (view NE)
White Hills
Continuing up the wash (view NE)
White Hills
The wash begins to fork (view NE)
White Hills
Interesting ash deposits (view E from route)
White Hills
Interesting ash deposits (zoom; view E)
White Hills
The route follows along the edge of the wash (view SE)
White Hills
Scenic limestone cliffs (view S from route)
White Hills
Scenic ash cliffs (view N from route)
White Hills
The route eventually returns to the wash (view SE)
White Hills
Continuing up the wash (view SE)
White Hills
The wash fork (view E -- wrong way)
White Hills
The wash fork (view S)
White Hills
Cliffs above the fork in the wash (view up)
White Hills
The route continues up the right fork (view S)
White Hills
The route exits the wash up steep hillside (view S)
White Hills
Hiker atop the steep hillside (looking back; view N)
White Hills
Atop the ridge, the route continues uphill (view SW)
White Hills
Hiker starting up the toe of the white hills (view SW)
White Hills
Atop the White Hills (view SW)
White Hills
Atop the White Hills (view NW)
White Hills
White Hills summit (view SW)
White Hills
Beyond the summit, heading towards the overlook (view SW)
White Hills
Overlook (view SSW)
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Overlook (view SW)
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Overlook (view NW into Kane Springs Valley)
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Overlook (view N)
White Hills
Overlook (view NNE)
White Hills
More to come ...

Summit Panoramas
White Hills
Summit area (view NW into Kane Springs Valley)

White Hills
Summit area (view NE towards Sunflower Mountain)

Returning to the Trailhead

White Hills
Hiker departing overlook and nearing summit (view NE)
White Hills
Crossing the summit (view NE)
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Traversing the summit ridge (view NE)
White Hills
Starting to descend from summit ridge (view NE)
White Hills
Descending from summit ridge (view NE)
White Hills
Trying to find a shortcut (view NW)
White Hills
Shortcut didn't work out so well for this Desert Bighorn
White Hills
Shortcut didn't work out so well for this Desert Bighorn
White Hills
Returning down ridge above steep hillside (view NE)
White Hills
Sunflower Mountain in the distance (view NE)
White Hills
Hiker ready to descend steep hillside (view NE)
White Hills
Bottom of the wash heading out (view N)

Scenery

White Hills
White Hills (view SE)
White Hills
White Hills (view SE)
White Hills
White Hills (view SE)
White Hills
White Hills (view SE)
White Hills
Wash below White Hills (view S)
White Hills
Wash below White Hills (view SW)
White Hills
Wash below White Hills (view NW)
White Hills
More to come ...

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 Trailhead 698860 4104550 3,462 0.00 0.00
02 Stay Right Along Wash 699130 4104867 3,539 0.28 0.28
03 Stay Right Out of Wash 699275 4104911 3,572 0.10 0.38
04 Wash Forks 699809 4104567 3,793 0.44 0.82
05 Start Climbing Out of Wash 699786 4104436 3,842 0.10 0.92
06 Ridgeline 699738 4104395 3,916 0.05 0.97
07 Toe of White Hills 699794 4104147 3,965 0.17 1.14
08 Summit of White Hills 699598 4104024 4,072 0.17 1.31
09 Overlook 699530 4103985 4,049 0.05 1.36
01 Trailhead 698860 4104550 3,462 1.36 2.72

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 170804

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