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.