10 Best Hikes in Nevada

The Las Vegas historic railroad trail in Nevada.
The Las Vegas historic railroad trail in Nevada. Aryeh Alex
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Don’t let Nevada’s Las Vegas reputation of bright desert lights and shady nightlife deter you from seeking out great hiking destinations. From remote desert treks to nature-filled vistas just outside of Las Vegas, if you’ve got hiking on the brain, Nevada is a must-stop. The trails that follow are some of the best that this southwestern state has to offer.

1. Turtlehead Peak

James Brooks

Red Rock Canyon offers some much needed (and super accessible) respite for nature lovers who find themselves in Sin City. While there’s lots to choose from, Turtlehead Peak is the top notch choice for two reasons: it’s a challenging hike (but not prohibitively so) and the views at the top simply cannot be beat. Side note: the canyon has a scenic drive built into it which is great for members of your crew who don’t want to break a sweat, but it’s a one way, so if you take a wrong turn onto it, you’re stuck driving 13 miles just to get back to where you started.

2. Fire Wave

Incredible patterns swirl in the rock at the Valley of Fire.
Incredible patterns swirl in the rock at the Valley of Fire. Achilli Family | Journeys

Another locale outside of Las Vegas is Valley of Fire State Park. There’s a $10 entrance fee required and there are a couple of hikes to choose from, but Fire Wave, referring to the color formations in the rocks along the way, is a beaut’. You can expect red soil, sweeping sandstone, and open vistas, all in just 1.25 miles roundtrip. The rock formations make for perfect photo ops. Time your hike to coincide with the golden hour at sunset and you’ll get top notch shots.

3. Historic Railroad Trail

Aryeh Alex

As of 2015, this path located inside Lake Mead National Recreation Area is officially a National Historic Trail. Snaking around Lake Mead and meandering towards the iconic Hoover Dam, the Historic Railroad Trail will give you 3.7 miles of dusty desert scenery through five now defunct railroad tunnels. You can start at either end, but beginning at the Alan Bible Visitor Center near Boulder City ends with a stunning view of the dam.

4. Sierra Canyon Trail

Jonathan Fox

Near Genoa, Nevada is where you’ll find this switchback-filled 10-mile hike. The Sierra Canyon Trail is composed of some serious elevation gains and losses, so it’s a force to be reckoned with. However, it’s got a couple of camping sites along the way, so there’s no rush to complete it in one go. Once you’re done, Genoa is one of those places with serious small town charm. It features great spots like the Genoa Bar and Saloon (one of the oldest in Nevada) to kick back for some R&R.

5. Nelson’s Landing

Just outside Henderson, NV, along Lake Mojave, you’ll find this cliff jumper’s paradise. Follow these specific directions because there are a few forks in the road that can really trip you up, but once you arrive, you’re in for a great summer day. The hikes here consist mostly of traversing rocks to get to good jump spots that offer 30-foot falls into crystal clear water below. A lot of people pack grills and spend the day out there and you should too! Bonus: The drive out includes passing through an eerie ghost town, which is totally worth a stop.

6. Goldstrike Hot Springs

James M. Brabson

Despite its desert locale, it does get chilly in Nevada every now and then. When it does, a visit to these hot springs is in order. The Goldstrike Hot Springs Trail is about 6.5 miles round trip and includes some hand-over-hand rope climbing in order to get down to the Colorado River and back. If you just want to stay on the upper portion and soak in the hot springs no climbing is necessary. Keep an eye peeled for snakes hiding out in crevices along the way. Like most of the hikes on this list, high summer isn’t the best time to go.

7. Marlette Lake Trail

Hiking out on the Marlette Lake Trail.
Hiking out on the Marlette Lake Trail. sxl

This 5.8 miler is a doozy, but it is a rewarding accomplishment for any hiker up for the challenge. Views of Lake Tahoe are well worth the effort. The Marlette Lake Trail does offer a lot of shade, but it’s a steep grade throughout. If you want to hike with Fido, this is one of those rare finds where your dogs can legally be off-leash.

8. Black Mountain Trail

Chris M. Morris

Situated in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation area is the Black Mountain Trail, a seven mile trek that starts out paved before turning into the classic graveley consistency that desert hikers crave. If you want to see a different side of Vegas, the bird’s eye view that this trail offers of the city is one that most people never see.

9. Flume Trail

Looking out a the beautiful blue waters atop the Flume Trail.
Looking out a the beautiful blue waters atop the Flume Trail. jcookfisher

While mostly traversed by mountain bikers, Flume Trail is a stellar hike that’s also a favorite of snowshoers in the winter. The best part of this 14-mile journey is that you get to soak up breaktaking views from Marlette Saddle at the trail's’ highest point. If you want to go by bicycle but didn’t bring your own, you can rent them at Flume Trail Bikes in Incline Village and even catch a shuttle to the trail from there for maximum convenience.

10. Tahoe Rim Trail

Jeff Moser

The Tahoe Rim Trail consists of 165 miles of trails that loops around the entirety of Lake Tahoe—96 miles of which are designated as National Recreation Trail. The entirety is open to pups, all but a tiny stretch in the north is open to horseback riders, and mountain bikes are allowed on about half of it. Most people allow about nine days to complete it and the trail association’s website has maps galore to keep you on track, because getting lost is never that much fun.

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