Hiking to Charleston Peak: How We Escaped the Summer Heat
Hiking in the heat is probably the last thing Vegas locals want to do in the summer. To stay cool, people often stay indoors, whether it’d be their homes, restaurants or one of the casinos in the Las Vegas Valley. But my boyfriend, Matt, and I had something else in mind. We decided to venture off to the chilliest mountain in Clark County, Nevada – Charleston Peak.
Charleston Peak, also known as Mount Charleston, is the 8th highest summit in Nevada. It boasts with spectacular mountain and desert views. It's only 45 minutes away from the city and can be accessed through the North Loop/Trail Canyon or South Loop trailhead.
The Brutal Start
Matt and I had the brilliant idea to hike from the North Loop Trail Canyon, when the sun was at its highest. (Worst idea ever) The first two miles of this 16.5-mile journey, was the hardest road to cover. It had a very steep incline and very little shade.
When we got to the two-mile point, we decided to recharge with some food. We knew we still had a long trail to cover, so we took a long break.
The next six miles felt endless. We climbed and climbed until we (I) couldn’t breathe anymore. Thankfully, the peaceful view of the Bristlecone Pine Forest made up for our suffering.
The sun was starting to set around 7:30 pm and the air was getting colder by the minute. Matt and I began our search for a campsite. We passed by several spots near the cliffs, but they were either unleveled or too rocky. Finally, we stumbled upon a secluded area, that was direct across from the Charleston Peak!
Score! We found a hidden gem.
The campsite was small but perfect. It did fit our 3-person tent and was 40 ft. away from the cliff. The site was also surrounded by Bristlecone Pine trees, which gave us some privacy from the other hikers. More importantly, it had an amazing view of the summit.
We were also lucky enough to witness one of the most striking sunsets, over by a hill near our campsite. The sun was painted blood orange and the sky was dyed pomegranate pink and misty blue. We've never seen anything like it before. It was absolutely stunning.
The temperature dropped as low as 45 degrees at night. We spent the rest of the evening inside the tent. We just ate, talked and stargazed. I was amazed by how visible the stars were.
The next morning was quite rough but exciting. Although we were exhausted from the day before, we couldn’t wait to reach our final destination.
The hike to the peak was just as difficult as the hike to the halfway point. High-altitude hiking was no joke. Air pressure became less as we ascended up Mt. Charleston, making it even harder for our aching bodies. We took breaks as often as needed – especially after navigating through narrow pathways and steep inclines.
The last two miles of the hike was even worse than the first two! The switchbacks were longer and steeper, but we kept moving forward. Many thanks to the other hikers, who encouraged us along the way.
Alas! We made it to the top!
Charleston Peak had an incredible 360-degree view of southern Nevada, eastern California and southern Utah. Both Las Vegas and Pahrump can also be seen from the peak. The views from the peak was breathtaking – literally.
Traveling up a 11,916 ft. mountain is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done this summer, but it’s also the most rewarding. Not only was I able to escape the Vegas heat but it also motivated to stay in shape. There’s nothing better than pushing yourself beyond your limits and accomplishing your goals. I have great pride in surviving this trip. It sure felt great to sign my name on the Climber’s Log!
Special thanks to Matt for convincing me to go backpacking/camping in Mt. Charleston. I had a great time roaming with you!