Mt. Charleston
By Tom Mahood
3.5 Tikaboos

I'll say right up front that you really don't want to do this one! It involves a butt-busting hike of over 8 miles each way, and an elevation gain of over 4,000'. Nasty, nasty, nasty! You gotta wonder if the damn discs and aliens are worth it. Still, the view from the top of Mt. Charleston is a breathtaking 360 degree panorama, and, off in the distance is Papoose and Groom. A double treat.

A triple treat (and link to Groom) is the presence of a C-54 plane wreck right at the side of the trail, about a half mile before reaching the peak. The crash dates from November 17, 1955, when all 14 aboard were killed on their way to Groom to work on the U-2 program. The wreckage pile is quite impressive.

To reach the trail head, take Highway 95 north, about 16 miles from its intersection with I-15 in Las Vegas. Turn west on Highway 157, Kyle Canyon Road. The road climbs high into the mountains, and the community of Mt. Charleston is reached. You'll pass a Ranger Station on the left, and it's a good spot to get info and maps. About 19 miles from Highway 95, the road turns left and climbs up the south side of the canyon. The trail head is at an elevation of around 7,300' and may be found hidden in the picnic area just before you come to Charleston Lodge. The trail is the South Loop trail. There is another trail that goes to Mt. Charleston called the North Loop trail. Do not mistakenly take the North Loop trail! It will also go to the peak, but is 2 miles longer. The trail head for the North Loop trail is on the opposite side of Kyle Canyon from the South Loop trail.

For anyone interested in acquiring maps of the area showing the trail, the USGS 7-1/2 minute maps are Charleston Peak and also Griffith Peak. The Toiyabe National Forest also has a map showing the trail, although in less detail than the USGS quad. It's the "Las Vegas Ranger District" map.

But since the sight line from Mt. Charleston is 58 miles to Papoose and 70 miles to Groom, you really didn't want to waste your energy for this one, did you?


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