Historic Railroad Trail - Trail Running

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The Historic Railroad Trail offers scenic and rewarding views of Lake Mead and the railroad bed that helped in the construction of the Hoover Dam. Runners, bikers, and hikers can experience the Mojave Desert from a unique and beautiful trail.

Written by

Andy Pigg


3.7 miles

If running the trail as an out and back from the trailhead parking lot to the end of the fifth tunnel, the total round trip mileage is 3.7 miles; however, if running as a longer out and back from the trailhead parking lot to the Hoover Dam Parking Garage, the mileage could be 7.4 miles round trip. In addition, the trail can be done as a point to point if a car shuttle can be arranged. Park one vehicle at the Hoover Dam Parking Garage and drive back to begin the trail at the Historic Railroad Trail parking lot. The total length for a point to point in this style would be 3.7 miles.

Destination Distance From Downtown

30.2 miles


1 of 5 diamonds

The entirety of the trail follows an old railroad bed that has a small, consistent incline from the parking lot near the Alan Bible to the chain link gate past the fifth and final tunnel. If continuing past the final tunnel, the trail turns from flat gravel to a paved greenway that leads to the parking garage at the Hoover Dam.

Time To Complete

0 hours

The Historic Railroad trail can be accessed from two trailheads; however, the trailhead near the Alan Bible Visitor Center provides the best and most scenic route. From the trailhead parking near the visitor center, it is roughly 3.6 miles to run roundtrip through all the tunnels to the first chain link gate and back. If using a shuttle, drop a car near the Hoover Dam Parking Garage and shuttle back to the parking lot near the Alan Bible Visitor Center.


Spring, Fall, and Winter

The Historic Railroad Trail is open year round to hikers and bikers, but in the summer months, some caution should be used when deciding when to exercise. The summer highs in the Las Vegas area can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so if you are considering running during this season, make time in your schedule to run early in the morning or late in the evening.

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are permitted in Lake Mead National Recreation Area, but they are only permitted on leash.



The Historic Railroad trail is a designated National Historic Trail in the Black Mountains of Lake Mead near Boulder Harbor and the Hoover Dam. At the time of construction, 30 miles of railroad were created by 6 Companies, Inc. with the U.S. government to connect Boulder City with the Hoover Dam. The 3.7 mile stretch of railroad bed that makes up the Historic Railroad Trail is the only remaining intact section of that rail system. The trail offers fantastic views of Lake Mead, the Boulder Islands, and Fortification Hill as well as the unique Mojave Desert landscape.

What Makes It Great

The Historic Railroad Trail boasts an immense amount of history in regards to the vital role the railroad played in the construction of the Hoover Dam. The trail itself follows a relatively flat railroad bed that contours around the side of the Black Mountains and through five distinct tunnels that are all roughly 300 feet in length and 25 feet wide. The section of railroad featured in the trail, allowed for the transportation of materials such as gravel and concrete to Lomix and the Hoover Dam from Boulder City in the 1930s.

The trail cuts through a classic Mojave Desert ecosystem that contains Creosote, Pygmy Cedar, Burrobush, White bursage, and Brittlebush. In the early spring, the Mojave Desert in this area comes to life with a whole color spectrum of vibrant wildflowers that make use of meager annual rainfall to produce wonderful blossoms that fill hillsides and washes throughout the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

The tunnels on the trail provide habitat that allows for fantastic wildlife viewing opportunities. In the mornings and evenings between May and October, runners can see and hear Mexican Free-Tail bats roost in the first, second, and third tunnels. In addition, Desert Bighorn Sheep are frequently spotted on the rocky hillsides adjacent to the trail, especially during the spring.

Who is Going to Love It

History buffs, athletes, and nature enthusiasts will all find the Historic Railroad Trail a rewarding way to spend a morning or afternoon. The desert flora and scenic lake views alone are enough to draw runners as well as hikers and cyclists to the trail at almost all times of year besides the main summer months.

Trail runners can take advantage of cool crisp mornings for invigorating training runs or just to find a bit of solitude near a major metropolitan area. The easy flat grade allows seasoned runners to push themselves or novice runners to train their bodies for more difficult terrain.

The trail is also a prime spot for runners or hikers looking to take their pets for runs or walks close to the city but outside of the regular tameness of suburbia and concrete.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From Las Vegas, Drive south on Interstate 515/ US-95 S/ US-93 S towards Boulder City.

Before reaching downtown Boulder City, make a left hand turn, and follow road signs for US-93 S towards the Hoover Dam and Kingman.

Turn left onto Lakeshore Road into Lake Mead National Recreation Area, and follow the road past the Allan Bible Visitor Center.

Take the immediate right after passing the turn off for the Visitor Center.

Park and look for a footpath leading to the main trail that leads toward the mountains.  

Leashed and obedient dogs are allowed on the trail and any trail within Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

No fee is required at the trailhead parking lot, but if continuing through the park, a fee is required.

The trail closes at dark, so be sure to be off the trail before it gets too late to avoid confrontation with the Hoover Dam Police.

Written by Andy Pigg for RootsRated.

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