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The River Mountains Loop Trail runs for more than 35 miles on a loop around the River Mountains, which form the backdrop of Las Vegas and Henderson. The trail is 12 feet wide and paved, with an adjacent trail for equestrians for about 15 miles of its length. The surrounding River Mountains are home to one of the largest bighorn sheep populations in Nevada, which you may encounter on this trail.
The route links the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Hoover Dam and Boulder City, with easy access to Lake Las Vegas and Clark County Wetlands Park via the Wetlands Trail Connector. To trek closer to central Henderson, trail users can hop on the linked Lake Mead Parkway Trail, Burkholder Trail, Equestrian North Trail or Equestrian South Trail.
About 3.5 miles of the River Mountains Loop Trail occupy the old bed of a railroad that once ran from Boulder City to Hoover Dam, supplying materials to build the dam. The trail shares a trailhead with the scenic Historic Railroad Trail at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area Alan Bible Visitor Center on Lakeshore Road. Take the gravel trail east to reach the famous Hoover Dam by foot, mountain bike or horse.
The River Mountains Loop Trail has many access points along its route. Some include:
1) Railroad Pass Hotel Casino, 2800 S. Boulder Highway, Henderson; upper parking lot
2) Bootleg Canyon Park, Yucca Street, Boulder City
3) Lake Mead NRA Alan Bible Visitor Center, Lakeshore Road and US 93
5) Equestrian Park, Foothills Drive and Equestrian Drive, Henderson
Location: Henderson, NV
Trail Condition: Very nice trail and sufficiently wide. This is review is only for the portion from Wetlands Trail Connector to Burkholder Trail. This portion of trail has several steep hills and fast downhills. Trail surface is great.
Comments: Connected to this trail from the Lake Mead Parkway, riding from Henderson. Rode up to the Wetlands Trail Connector and after completing the Wetlands Trail Connector, began the River Mountains Loop Trail (counter clockwise) towards the Burkholder Trail. A couple pretty good climbs and then fast downhills getting through the first mile or so of trail. Then a steady uphill until the Burkholder Trail intersection. Nice to get away from the traffic and out into the desert on this trail. A few more walkers and bikers encountered on this trail. (Bad – encountered two motorcyclists using the trail, they weren’t racing down the trail but just the same shouldn’t have been there.) Our loop ride this day also included, Lake Mead Parkway, Wetlands Trail Connector, and Burkholder Trail. See reviews for these trails mentioned.
We rode the complete trail a couple years ago and enjoyed it. Is a long ride but a memorable one.
We were visiting from the midwest so we got our e-bikes from an outfitter in Henderson with excellent access to the loop. Don’t try to do this in the summer as it is too hot and no shade. It is a great experience if you’re on an e- bike. If not you need to be in good shape as it is hilly. The trail is in excellent condition. Most ride it clockwise because that’s easier.
Great trail, but a lot of hills and no shade. Water is available at three locations along the trail, but still need a couple of bottles to be safe. All but real hill climbers need to rent an e-bike. To minimize steep hills go clockwise, the hill from the visitor's center to top of hill at Boulder City is long but not steep. E-bikes are available at River Mountain on Lake Meade Parkway in Henderson and All Mountain in Boulder City.
I set myself the challenge of renting a road bike and riding out from The Strip down Flamingo Arroyo, Wetlands and Connector trails then taking the River Mountains Loop clockwise before retracing back to Vegas, Baby.
Flamingo Arroyo is a means to an end. It gets you out of the city to Sunrise avoiding the main trafficked roads and onto Wetlands, which is a nice trail. There's a couple of miles slog up to The Loop from here then you need to decide clockwise or anti clockwise.
I'm 16 stones so not a climber and I managed alright. There's nothing particularly steep but the drag from Lake Mead to the top of the hill at Boulder City is a long, hard slog. I plodded gently up it in marginally under 55 minutes excluding a stop to give directions to a couple that couldn't read the sign they were standing next to. Why they'd assume a bloke from 5,000 miles away would have any local knowledge is open to question.
The early April sunshine had the temperature hitting 30 degrees C (double it and add 32 I think for old school) in parts; strangely the hottest bit was during the climb to boulder city which was dashed inconvenient. I ran out of drink atop the climb and managed to restock at the Equestrian Drive Car Park where the water fountain dispenses the nicest water on earth (and I live near Buxton!) A good tip is to memorise where the water dispensaries are before you set off. I didn't struggle the Three Sisters. Kept a bit of pace up and sprinted up them. Overall good trail. Good tarmac most of the way round with a few contraction cracks in places. Not many opportunities for shade so I'd imagine it would be good to heed the advice of avoidance in the summer months. Completely enjoyable and easily accomplished by an average, middle aged cyclist.
Strava Link if interested. https://www.strava.com/activities/2258408601/
Happy New Year…completed this nearly 38 mile (some signage claims 31 miles) loop on 4 Jan 2019. Parked at Equestrian Dog Park in Henderson. Good park to start from, there is a decent restroom with water at the location. (At the end of Equestrian Dr there is also a parking area with pit toilet and bike repair station.) Took connector trail up to the River Mountains Loop trail about 0.5 mile away. Traveled clockwise. Was cool temps (50’s) and calm. Still saw a number of other folks on the trail, mostly bikers but some walkers. Signage on some portions of the trail was lacking at intersections. Following the main trail was easy enough but if wanting to take a side trip requires a study of the map. Once on the Lake Mead side of the loop watched a coyote trot down the trail in front of us for a short distance, finally leaving the trail when we got a little closer. Then on the big climb up to Boulder City there was a group of Desert Bighorn Sheep rams right on the edge of the trail enjoying the grassy shoulder. This is not a Rails-to-Trails type trail, plenty of hills to climb and glide down. Can’t imagine attempting this in the middle of the summer, no shade available anywhere. Enjoyed the ride but was ready to be done once we saw the end in sight.
Here’s my take on the trail:
Required abilities- Hot weather endurance, be able to ride at least 40 miles without too much trouble, able to handle long climbs.
Required gear: Depending the time of year, bring at least 2 liters of water. There are a few watering holes (mile 3, 12 I think, 16 ish, and from 22 on you’re near civilization), snacks and electrolytes.
When to ride: DO NOT RIDE FROM JUNE TO SEPTEMBER! There is literally a sign at the visitor area that says that. The heat can kill you and has killed others. I rode in October and still succumbed to the heat. If you do ride in the fall or spring, ride early (6AM is nice).
Others have commented that this is all climbs and descents. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. There are no flat areas. Going clockwise, mile 19 to mile 34 is one long continuous (and at times arduous) climb. Miles 1 to 19 are a bunch of ups and downs.
Mile 4 to 14 has the “Three Sisters.” Three very intense but short climbs followed by really fun and winding descents. I clocked at 37 mph on a 37 lbs hybrid and I wasn’t even trying.
If you’re trying it for the first time, go clockwise. It’s more fun, and if you poop out after mile 20, you are near civilization. Clockwise takes you around to Lake Las Vegas and Lake Meade via very pretty and scenic route. The “Three Sisters” aren’t as bad, the down hill descents stretch out nicely.
Counterclockwise starts with a brutal uphill followed by a very long descent. “The Wash” portion of the descent (mile 28 to mile 31 ish) is tough, hot, and slippery. If you’re on a road bike, please be careful.
From mile 19 to mile 1 it is a mostly gentle climb with some severe bumps. The Sisters are called the “Three Not-So-Nice words” going this direction. Please be prepared, as they are in the last portion of your ride.
Is it worth doing? Yes! If you plan it right, it’s a great experience. If you can do it with friends, even better. Please take the appropriate steps, come at the right time, and make sure you are good enough in a bike to enjoy the ride. Kick it’s butt!
This is an expert level inline skate for those of you wishing to take the challenge. The pavement is great, but the heat and major steep grades will kick your butt hard. It is like hiking on skates in one direction, and skiing in the other. There is not much water available - found some at the 36.012998, -114.922980 trailhead.
My route: from the AMS water treatment plant, going north, it will basically be uphill for 15 miles. If you get to the trailhead near River Mountain water treatment and go back, it will be dangerous downhill for 15 miles.
Some of the hills are 30+ mph hills with jog turns at the bottom. Start braking immediately when you see these hills. Others are more fun, so it really feels like you climbed a mountain and now get to go down as a reward. There are some surprise dirt washes to jump over.
Note there is currently a detour in place near the AMS water treatment plant next to Lake Mead. Good luck!
I live by this trail and walk/hike around the portion that runs by my house. I sometimes see very ill-prepared cyclists in poor condition for this long, hot trail. I saw a guy today who was in serious danger wearing all black, sunburned and no sun hat or any protection and should not have been out there. Do not undertake this loop if you are out of shape or not equipped to be baked under in the blinding desert sun all day long. This is NOT KID OR PET FRIENDY AT ALL and has zero shade anywhere along the way. Serious fit and prepared cyclists with water only. This trail is NOT FOR HIKING or families.
This was a tough ride for me. I'm usually a C paced rider (13-15 mph average) but I'm not strong with long hills or comfortable with steep descents and on this ride you're either climbing or descending (no flat sections). It took me ~3.33 hours of actual riding time. MapMyRide gave me a 10.5 mph average. I started at the bike shop and rode clockwise. However, I saw more people riding counterclockwise. It is a loop, so the total elevation gain is the same either way, but clockwise has an 11 mile gradual climb and counterclockwise seemed to have many shorter but really steep climbs. No matter which way you go it's going to be a tough workout unless hills are easy for you.
I am a senior and decided to take my time the first time biking the River Mountains Loop Trail. I did it over several enjoyable days during the cooler, winter months. I started my adventure by biking to Lake Las Vegas from my house near the Stratosphere Casino using the Wetlands Bike Trail. I stayed overnight at the Hilton. I then used the Trail Connector from Lake Las Vegas to the River Mountains Trail and headed clockwise on the trail. Great views! Stopped at the visitor center and then stayed the second night near there at the Boulder Damn Hotel. Continued to finish the trail the third day, and stayed at the Sunset Station Hotel in Henderson after using the Lake Mead Trail. Rode home the fourth day. The Three Sisters was the toughest part. Walked some of that. Staying over some nights made it like a biking vacation. I recommend it. Hoping to do it again.
not for beginners, bring lots of water, there is lots of hills, and elevation gain of at least 2000 feet. CW is easier. 34 miles around trip
I rode this trail on June 27, 2016 as part of an 11 state bicycle trail personal tour. It was very hot so I only rode 5.2 miles (2.6 miles out and then back). Average temperature according to my Garmin GPS was 117 degrees. The last 15 minutes of the ride was 123.8 degrees and I barely made it.
Scenery was starkly beautiful with Lake Mead as a backdrop. I would recommend riding when it is 40 or 50 degrees cooler.
Regardless where you start, if you do the whole loop, you will climb over 2,600ft. Great workout. Bring water ;-)
They call it "River Mountains Loop Trail". They should call it "25 Mile Bobsled Run +10 Mile Climb from Hell" ;-) I started at 8:30 PM, from the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino, did the loop clockwise, and got back at 1:30 AM. Your time should be less, I was on a 40 pound recumbent tadpole trike.
As a runner, I love it for my long runs. I just wish it had fewer steep hills. Need to spend more time exploring the different trail heads.
awesome trail. all paved, good scenery and good hills, the three sisters and her mother in a law, that makes four good hills.
As an older biker who uses a hybrid trial bike, I'd advise tackling this trail in chunks until you get to know the ups and downs, and where to pick your start point if you are going to tackle the entire loop. I have ridden 14 mile sections of the trail and have had a great time. I only started riding six months ago so don't judge the effort it takes to get around the trail by me... today I started at the Lake Mead visitor center and rode up hill to Boot leg Canyon trail intersection (Boulder City). Steep, difficult - sections of it kicked my tail, but it was a great ride. Last week I did the section from entrance to Lake Mead park to visitor center and back - about a 26.5 mile total ride - some climbs and downhill, but all in all very fun and scenic. Goal is work up to the entire loop in one ride. Mountain sheep and desert tortoise on the ride today.
How many hours takes to do the hall loop ??
you walkers,..trust me, when we bikers are ringing bells in back of you,..it's not that we are disrespecting you, we are kinda hoping you'll, uh, please move to the right, please, please, please..for our mutual safety. I know you instinctively think we are rude for ringing bells "at" you,..but we bikers are bending over backwards to be safe in sharing this beautiful trail with you. The next bell ringing cyclist you flip off or curse at,..guess what,..he's the guy that's gonna take out your elbow at high speed next month, with nary a sound.
pet peeves: pedestrians! I'm on street bike,..I have a loud bell. When I am way back,..coming up on a pedestrian I start ringing the bell from far far off,..SO Many times I've been flipped off, yelled at,..stuff like "hey! don't be so pushy!" or "You don't own the F'ing trail!"..One lady actually waddled intentionally into the middle of the lane to show me "who's boss" with her hideous spandex horror,..I get it, they are basically indicating that I've disturbed their zen hike, and it's impolite of me to "ask" them to move to the side for our safety.
So, yes,..I now whiz by walkers at top speed on the right OR the left, with no bells or warnings, so as not to be flailed or cursed at,..yes, I miss you walkers by scant inches,..don't be scared, a miss is as good as a mile. I got it under control, I've done this trail for years and haven't struck anyone yet,..as a matter of fact,I wash my hands of you rude pedestrians. I tried to be ultra-polite for years, and it always came back to bite me,..so now, BITE ME
Felt safe running this trail and sharing it with cyclists. Some uphills and downhills very steep, hard on your legs and knees, but managed to finish a 15 mile run.
Resurface project may be complete by Nov 2014 from Ithaca to the junction with Lake Mead Parkway. Noel Keller 29 Sept 2014
I live near the trail and I have walked this trail for 10 years, before it was paved and the bicycles came. Bike now whoosh past me, inches away, without the courtesy of a warning--often scaring the daylights out of me. I feel my safety is in jeopardy each time I walk out there, which is daily. The rudeness and arrogance of the bicylists is astounding, not to mention the danger they pose. A 200 pound person on a fast moving bike can kill or seriously injure a person on foot. When approaching pedestrians, holler out you are approaching and pass well clear. Share the trail, be courteous, and when you are feeling superior, remember a 5-year old can ride a bike!
This was a great trail to ride. Fantastic view of Lake Mead. My wife and I began to wonder why everyone we saw on a bike was going in the opposite direction, it didn't take long to figure out. The trail is actually 34 miles long, very well marked every 1/2 mile. I would say from mile marker 31 to mile marker 20 we were going down hill. I believe it was at about mile maker 20 we started climbing and climbing and climbing. The three sister are killers. I kept thinking "at the top of this ridge it will be downhill. But that was not the case. We started at mile maker 28. Down hill to the dirt trail to Hoover Dam. That trail was about 4 1/2 miles to the dam starting at mile maker 25. The dirt trail is all flat. From 25 to 20 it continues down. Then the massive climb. So from 31 to about 20 it is down hill everything else pretty much uphill. 11 miles downhill 23 uphill if you ride counter clockwise.
Be sure to ride CLOCK-WISE. Great ride. Next time we will know better. Have fun!
This is a gem in southern Nevada and all who are responsible for its construction and maintenance deserve an any praise they get. You can stay gone on this trail all day and you meet the greatest people. The only place it sees to need improvement is where the water district trucks sling gavel on it in their may passings across the trail. I am very pleased to see that most users seem to take part in keeping it clean. See an in depth trail chronicle here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ACBOV3SP1bw&feature=plcp
We rode sections (short distances) two days in a row. Oct 7 & 8, 2012. Both days started at the dog park off of Equestrian Dr. Nice paved parking area, restrooms and water. About a mile from the actual trail but nice paved trail to the trailhead. Trailhead also has restroom and water. Length of trail is not clear, some signage says 31 miles but MP34 and MP 01 are one and the same. First day rode trail counter clockwise from MP 3.0 to 30.5 (except it is marked MP 31 - there are two MP 31 about .5 mile apart). We stopped at summit of 2694 elevation near entrance to Bootleg Park (mountain bike trail complex). Trail is very nice, wide, paved. Friendly folks on trail. Thinking if we were to ride the full length of trail would go counter clockwise. Looks like it would be a long climb from Lake Meade (1341 elev) to summit past Boulder. Second day rode trail clockwise again starting at MP 3.0. First mile is at an incline and then downhill for about 2 miles. Then close to MP 7.0 short steep uphill climb. After that a very steep downhill (would have to push up that hill if went down). Stopped here and turned around. Love the desert scenery, didn't see any wildlife but enjoyed the trail. It is in good condition. This is NOT a rails-to-trails type of trail. It is has uphills and downhills. Someday in the future and better in shape and prepared would love to ride the full loop. Well worth a visit.
I've only been riding for a month & a half and have to say I loved almost every moment of this incredible trail! Going north from the Equestrian Trailhead was great until I met the Three Sisters. Quite a challenge for a beginner biker! The views, once I got past Lake Mead entrance were amazing. So very peaceful & serene! Can't wait to ride it again!
Took my two brothers in law who are both long time avid riders from Utah out for this ride last month. Both ride in beautiful country up in Utah, however both thought this was the best ride they had ever been on, and can't wait to come visit again. They also raved about the ride to my brother in law in Phoenix, stating it was the funest and best ride they had been on. For your first experience on the trail, I would recommend starting north on the trail.
I just read May 2012:
"Trail is closed from 9.5 mile to 11 mile for construction on shared Lake Mead Parkway Trail. I found that between the 5 mile marker and the 7 mile mark, expansion cracks have opened up to 3 inches across."
My question is, what do you do? Turn around?
Does anyone know when this will be fixed?
Thanks for letting us know so we don't waste our time biking this trail.
Trail is closed from 9.5 mile to 11 mile for construction on shared Lake Mead Parkway Trail. I found that between the 5 mile marker and the 7 mile mark, expansion cracks have opened up to 3 inches across. Did not continue down the steep grade just past the 7 mile mark, as I would not be able to climb out on the return with my recumbent 3 wheel cycle.
Noel Keller 27 Apr 2012
Wow, this ride was great! It had so many different facets, I didn't know what to expect next. It had climbs like no other, but the decent was even more exciting. The twists and turns it would make, I wasn't sure what was coming next. I wish I would've started going north, but it was amazing. The view of the lake and being able to ride in the National Forest as it paralleled Lake Mead added to the rides panoramic views were breath taking.
To add to the interest, it had tunnels, MPH signs (even going up hill), grade alert signs, decorative rock in some areas, part of it was a concrete canal, and at sunset a view of the strip.
I suggest a beginner should take it in strides, but if you can do the entire loop, it's a great day for a bike ride.
My wife and I went to a conference in vegas. and one day rented bikes from:
J T's Bicycle, 76 W Horizon Ridge Pkwy # 130Henderson, NV 89012-5333
jtsbicycle.com (GREAT PEOPLE!!) tell them folks from gainesville florida recommended)
The RMT had just been completed. It was awesome. beautiful scenary. medium challanging.
We stopped by the RMLT to see how things were coming. With temps in the 90s and humidity like the midwest, any thoughts of riding went away, but we did a van survey. Pix are up.
I couldn't find anything official on the website, but The River Mountains Loop Trail now appears to be a loop trail. (RE: Website - the official map is dated 2008. That's current.)
There is a new section of trail along Lake Mead Blvd from Golda towards the lake. One underpass takes you to the north side of the road at Lakers and another brings you back within sight of the trail head by the NRA entrance station. The old trail across the hills awaits you there. No construction signs seen and there were riders. There is new Google Earth coverage from June 2011 and you can see the underpasses sitting there, waiting to go in.
Take a look: Take a look. Enter this in Google Earth: 36.098078° -114.903704°
GE also shows the new section across Boulder City. From the trailhead at Veterans it climbs to the new Bootleg Canyon park (lots of trees have been planted), goes past the circle, under the gravel pit, across the road to the MTB park, then descends the bajada in a series of curves.
Take a look. Enter this in Google Earth: 35.981701° -114.854181°
Waiting for fall to arrive. About two weeks late.
Check out this...
(Quite interesting - 40 photos of construction at the Missing Link.)
The Missing Link segment is well underway. This from the Friends of the River Mountains Loop Trail:
"Trail Construction On Segment 14 Proceeding Quickly
As noted in the April RMLT email, construction has begun on the final piece of the trail to complete the 34.5 mile loop. This 2.4 mile piece of the trail runs along Lake Mead Parkway near Lake Las Vegas. If you visit the area you will be detoured to a temporary road along Lake Mead Parkway. When this piece, "segment 14" finishes, we will have completed the "loop."
The picture below is one of several pictures taken by John Holman on River Mountains Loop Trail Facebook Wall. (Click on the name to go to the Facebook page.) The picture below shows the construction of the tunnel that will run under Lake Mead Parkway.
The tunnel walls are being prefabed on top of the road before being dropped into its new home under the roadway. The tunnels will be tall enough so that a rider on their horse can remain on their horse as they travel underneath the road. Construction for the two tunnels and 2.4 of paving is expected to be completed by August 26, 2011.
To see a map of the work area go to http://rivermountainstrail.org/. The first item is a map of the work area.
· River Mountains Loop Trail in Henderson Will Be Closed Starting Today (May 23, 2011)
A very popular piece of the RML trail between Equestrian Park and the "Silverman connector" will be rerouted for thirty days as the City of Henderson reinforces the flood control berm the trail rests on. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause you. The work will take 30 days to complete. FEMA was out late last year in the Las Vegas valley checking flood control structures, berms, etc. The flood control berm was deemed to need additional work. Hopefully the work will be finished quickly and we can get back to enjoying this part of the trail."
This information is from Bill Laub of the River Mountains Loop Trail organization...
Friday, March 18, 2011
Friends of the River Mountains Loop Trail:
Work Will Start March 28, 2011 of the Final Piece of the "Loop"
You have heard this before, and for years, but work will begin on the final piece of the loop at the end of this month. The construction contract for our last trail segment (segment 14) near the entrance to Lake Las Vegas has been awarded. The contract includes two tunnels under Lake Mead Parkway and 2.6 miles of paving (see link to PDF for location). The contract is for a 120 day build-out. The contractor expects that "substantial completion" will be completed by July 26, 2011 with a final completion date of August 26, 2011. Click on the picture below for a larger picture of the work area.
Click here for a 3 megabyte PDF of the picture shown above and the work area.
From Pacifica Way Trail Head to Equestrian Dr. TH, Surface in excellent Condition. At two miles North of Railroad Pass the trail appears to be on the old RR Bed to Equestrian Dr TH. The last three miles of the Loop are expected to be completed in December 2010.
Noel J. Keller 21 May 2010
This trail provides me with a fair amount of distance, but it's not a full loop yet. The last time I was on it was early November, 2009. I picked up the trail from a entry point at East Paradise Hills Dr. You can go either North or South from that point. I traveled South, which took me around Railroad Pass Casino and continued all the way into Boulder City. Along the way I passed Bootleg Canyon. I finally got off the trail, when I hit construction of the trail. I had to find surface streets to get me over to the paved wash that they call a trail that heads down into Lake Mead and the Alan Bible visitor's center.
From the Visitor's center you can travel North along the lake on a paved trail that eventually turns up towards Lake Las Vegas where it abruptly ends. If you didn't know that you'd have to travel on the road for a few miles to reach the paved trail again, you might think that you had to come all the way back.
The trail is not very populated. I saw a few cyclists and a couple of pedestrians and no horses. I'm now looking for paths that will take me from my house to the trail.
RIVER MOUNTAIN LOOP TRAIL – EQUESTRIAN TRAILHEAD TO BOOTLEG CANYON PARK
TRAIL RATINGS… * to *****
Trailbed = 5* - Nice, smooth blacktop. Nice new bridges, signs, benches. Nice new everything.
Facilities= 4* to 5*. Equestrian TH has a water fountain and restrooms (Water on the trail gets you a 5*). The next official on-trail water is just north at the SNWA rest stop or way around south to the Sen. Alan Bible Visitor Center in the Lake Mead NRA.
Unofficial water, restrooms and such – try the Railroad Pass Casino TH at MP 0.0. They have been serving the needs of the community since 1931. The next on-trail water and restroom is at the Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park above Boulder City. Check it out…
It’s quite a park and an amazing restroom - four showers! His and hers indoor and outdoor showers. We hope this is a trend. In our eight state tour, the next best was the Hyak TH, Iron Horse Trail, WA. The two handicap RRs had showers.
Once you leave the casino, Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park is the next trail pit stop – and the trail does not quite get there yet (10/09). It’s under construction with a November completion date. You can work cross-lots or let Boulder City accommodate your various needs.
A TALE OF TWO MAPS…
You need trail maps. As of 10/09, you could find a two-sided black and white map of the RMLT on offer at the NRA Visitor Center, the Nevada Welcome Center, on the website and other locations. It showed the trail and facilities but did not show the surrounding highway net, so finding the trailheads was an adventure in navigation.
The visitor centers had large satellite photo maps with all that information – which make finding trailheads much easier. They declined to give me their copies, but I was welcome to transcribe information. Suddenly I started hitting the trailheads right on.
Then my life changed. I stopped into the All Mountain Bike Shop in Boulder City to see what they had in maps and info. They had a new map – a smaller four color version of that nice photomap at the visitor centers. I got some. Of course, this happened after two days of research and riding, but so it goes. This is a more expensive map, so don’t expect to see them everywhere.
Check out All Mountain. They have many luscious toys on offer. If you are in town to ride in the Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park, check them out for sure. That is their back yard. You can also rent the correct bike from them.
EQUESTRIAN TO BOOTLEG AND BACK AGAIN…
I did this ride in two sections over two days while finding my way around the trail, but will describe it as one Out N Back ride. On a new trail of this length, I first do a quick all-around survey by van, stopping at all the trailheads with GPS in hand to locate the facilities. Then I decide what segments to ride first. I circled the River Mountains twice, by van. Rails to Trails wants the GPS coordinates to the water, the restrooms, the trail end, the center of the parking lots, ends of tunnels and bridges, etc., for their maps at <traillink.com>.
This is a pleasant 13.4 mile Out N Back ride from the Equestrian Park Trailhead in Henderson, over RR Pass and around to the Bootleg Canyon Park (under construction) in Boulder City. You can easily extend it over to the mountain bike park or the Pacifica TH. Beyond there you descend the bajada and its decision time. Loose a lot of altitude or what? Pictures of the route are posted on traillink.
Start by finding the Equestrian Park Trailhead in Henderson. Tell your car GPS: Intersection of E. Equestrian Dr. and Foothills Dr. You can see it and the trail on Google Earth. Enter: 36.013055° -114.923275°
To the north is Equestrian Park and one of Southern Nevada Water Authority’s water treatment plants. Another is across the mountains by Lake Mead. To the south is Rail Road Pass. Saddle up and head that way. Soon you are on top of one of the flood control levees built to control the runoff from storms in the mountains. From the top of the pass down to the RR Pass Casino at Milepost 0.0, there are three interpretive trail-side signs commenting on area history (the casino, squatter camp, alumite). Nice feature. Hope to see more along the way.
At MP 0.0 you hit the RR Pass Casino trailhead. It’s in a corner of the upper (RV and Bobtail) parking lot. Current GE coverage shows the blacktop ending here and the rough grading going onward. Not current enough. The blacktop goes thru and there is a new overpass bridge by way of US 95. Ride on – or pause at the trailside benches with views.
From the overpass, its 1.2 miles to the corner and trailhead west of the state veteran’s home. This trailhead belongs to the Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park, but the RMLT makes a corner here, so it’s a handy access spot. Other than parking, an info kiosk and an attractive rock grouping, no facilities. The RMLT has two benches at the corner.
Coming by road? Down on US 93, look for signs directing you to the state veteran’s home in Boulder City. The road is Veterans Memorial Drive. Turn uphill to the veteran’s home, then left onto Veterans Dr. Admire the seriously good desert landscaping at the home. Head west 0.4 to the trailhead parking. You’re there. You can ride the trail or go off mountain biking.
From this corner trailhead, the RMLT heads uphill to the “under construction” Bootleg Canyon Park – not to be confused with the Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park, about 0.4 air miles further on, higher up and open for business (It is a very nice bike park.) . Enter 35.984262° -114.861524° as a Google Earth search for that four shower complex at BCMBP. Right next to the jump track.
Once at Bootleg Canyon Park it may be confusion time. Where to from here? No signage or obvious trail. When they finish this segment the problem will go away. You can turn around here and retrace your steps or go on to the bike park, the other trail heads down in Boulder City or down to the lake.
Time for me to head back to Henderson and the In N Out Burger shop. There was an obvious blacktop road heading downhill, so I took down to Industrial Way and back past the Veteran’s Home to rejoin the trail at the corner down there. Head back to the casino, go chuffing over RR Pass, then glide down atop the levee to Equestrian TH. Fun ride.
If you are riding either direction, want to go further and the segment is under construction, you can save a lot of up and down by using quiet Industrial Way. Part of it has bike lanes. Follow the RML trail past the Veteran’s Home.
Here the trail is a few yards off Veterans Memorial Dr / Industrial Rd. Move over and ride east on Industrial down to US 93. Look left and there is the RMLT blacktop again. Next stop is the River Mountain (hiking) Trail TH at 35.984375° -114.842893°. From here you take the concrete drainage channel/ street luge section down to the Pacifica TH at 35.998567° x -114.823297°.
Do make that sharp left turn where the gate closes off the channel below. It dumps into a retention pond and then into the wash for a trip to Lake Mead. You take the trail instead. It looks like a glorious downhill glide to the Railroad Tunnel Trail TH below the NRA Visitor Center. Google Earth doesn’t yet show it, but it is all blacktop down to the bottom and up the lake and beyond.
There is a lot of good riding on the RMLT. Pick what works. Feeling frisky? Try the notorious Three Sisters around MP 7.5 – said to be a “nice” triple hill climb with just a bit of a grade. Just start at Equestrian and head north toward the Golda Way corner.
RIVER MOUNTAINS LOOP TRAIL – ALONG LAKE MEAD FOR A BIT
TRAIL RATINGS… * to *****
Trailbed = 5* - Nice, fresh blacktop for a smooth ride.
Facilities = 4* - Water can be an issue along the Lake Mead section of the trail. You can find water at the visitor center and Boulder Beach campground. The next water on the trail, as shown on the RMLT map, is over in Henderson at Southern Nevada Water Authority Rest Area and the Equestrian Park Trailhead. If I had to water up in Boulder City, and didn’t want a beer, I’d hit the Nevada Welcome Center on US 93 – about a mile SW of Pacifica Trailhead.
Scenery = 3+* - 4* - If you are used to trees and little lakes and greenery, this is a different world of stark and sere beauty. Sere is the word. You’re not in Kansas anymore. You’re in the Mojave Desert. There probably are some trees in the River Mountains, but they would be tucked up in the canyons, trying to make it. Creosote bushes, zillions of them, are everywhere, doing fine.
I fell over this trail while researching the Railroad Tunnel Trail and suggested they get listed on Trail Link. Consider it a Destination Trail. Poor Nevada – only had one trail on Trail Link. Now there are two and this is fine one.
It gives you a number of options on your bike. You can camp down at the lake and ride the loop or parts of it. You can ride the rail trail to the dam. You can go to Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park in Boulder City to try their trails. You can mix and match and have a lot of fun here.
We found the October weather pleasant vs. the Three Months of Brain Fry in the summer (Averages: June - 100; July – 106, August – 103). Still, getting on the trail early is a smart move.
CAMPING ON THE TRAIL… Boulder Beach CG
The best trailhead on the whole route is not really an official trailhead. It’s the Boulder Beach Campground. With the Golden Geezer pass, we paid $5/night for a nice site with a bit of a lake view. For the full lake view you need to be down one level in Winnebago Row, along the former waterfront. However, these sites stayed full of big Winnebagos.
Pedal up the campground road and catch the trail next to Lakeshore Drive. You can go north into the hills or south to the Railroad Tunnel Trail or up the bajada to Boulder City and beyond. Up is the word. You will gain 690’ from the campground to the Pacifica Way Trailhead in Boulder City.
HEAD NORTH FOR ONE WATER BOTTLE…
Having done the Railroad Tunnel Trail, I headed north for a little ride after breakfast to see the sights. The trail rises and falls and twists and turns along the slope of the bajada, following the Lakeshore Rd. to a point south of the Alfred Merritt Smith Water Treatment Facility. There it makes a large loop lakeward behind the plant.
Lot of new construction going on back there. What are they building?
From behind the plant, the trail curves and climbs steadily up the slope to the dual use culverts on Lakeshore Rd. near the fish hatchery. If it’s not already flooded or stormy, pedal on under the highway and switchback up the slope. If flooded, etc., do not enter – says the sign. Oh. I wondered.
Somewhere on those curves, headed back, I hit 30.8 mph. Don’t know just where, as I was picking my line and watching for gravel on the turns instead of watching the GPS, but there is a bit of a grade in that section.
Through the culverts, you switchback up another slope, then down to where the trail runs alongside Lakeshore Drive. All too soon the trail leaves the road and starts climbing. It is built on the remains of an old two lane road. Google Earth claims this is Rt. 166. It climbs into the hills for a bit of up and down. Just a bit.
Google Earth shows there about 18 ridges to cross from the MP 18 at the fish hatchery to the north end corner of the trail at MP 14.5. Seems like a lot of work. Good work for a young roadie.
Water bottle empty? Check! Load the spare. Early lunch at Boulder Beach looking attractive? Check! The Gutterbunny is kicked about and we are off downhill for a change. Somewhere ahead is a 30 knot bit before lunch and a drive up to Boulder City to explore how the trail crosses town.
RIDE STATS AND IMPRESSIONS…
Going north: 5.93 miles up, 25.8 top speed, 7.4 moving average, 41 minutes moving time, total ascent 422’, total descent 296’.
Going back south: 6.20 miles, 30.8 max speed, 9.9 moving average, 37 minutes moving time, total ascent 337, descent 604’
This worked out to a pleasant 12 mile Out N Back N Up N Down. It would be about a 16 mile round trip from the Railroad Tunnel Trail trailhead – a nice morning desert ride. The northern section of the trail, from the hatchery around to Golda Way, is something I would save until I had done the other bits.
This is an up and coming trail system that will be a must do for Las Vegas visitors who enjoy the outdoors.
be it street cycling, mountain bikes or running this 34+ mile trail has something for everyone. 12-ft wide paved trail around the rugged River Mountains provides plenty of space for long distance cycling with either your street bike or mountain bike. Shorter rides can be planned from various trail heads out and back to meet your individual needs. The River Mountains Loop Trail provides grand views of Las Vegas Valley from the Railroad Pass summit; to breath taking views of Lake Mead and the surrounding volcanic mountain ranges. Wild life can be seen early mornings and evenings along the trail include the majestic Desert Big Horn Sheep. Coyotes, rabbits, snakes and the Desert Tortoise are also seen along the trail.
I highly recommend putting this trail on your next Las Vegas outdoor adventure.
Happy trails to all.....john
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