4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure

Griffith Peak (11,056ft), Charleston Peak (11,918ft), Lee Peak (11,289ft), Mummy Mountain (11,528ft)

 

4 Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Overview

The 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit adventure outside of Las Vegas, Nevada is between 22 and 24 miles and includes over 6000ft elevation gain. I summited the peaks in the following order: Griffith Peak (11,056ft), Charleston Peak (11,918ft), Lee Peak (11,289ft) and finally, Mummy Mountain (11,528ft). I choose this order because I find it less demanding on the body to make the initial elevation gain up the steeper 4000ft ascent on the South Climb Trail to Griffith Peak and end with the more gradual North Loop / Trail Canyon descent. This route works because I’ve discovered a little known a route that goes directly from the upper North Loop Trail to Mummy Mountain, avoiding descending and reascending about 1500ft near the end of this long journey. See full directions in the video on this page and the videos on the pages noted below. A note of warning: This adventure is more demanding than any marathon due to the elevation gain, so I suggest you be in your best marathon condition before taking it on.

First Leg of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Up to Griffith Peak Summit

The 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit began at 1:40am at the Trail Canyon Trailhead just beyond Charleston Village. For directions to the trailhead see the Mummy Mountain page. Why begin at the Trail Canyon Trailhead when the first peak to summit is Griffith Peak which is normally accessed from the South Climb Trailhead? Because at the end of the 20-22 mile 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit you head down Mummy Mountain and arrive back at your car at the Trail Canyon Trailhead. So, beginning at the Trail Canyon Trailhead, I ran the asphalt road at first descending about 100ft, then reascending about 200ft to the South Climb Trailhead (about 1 mile and 250ft distance). From the South Climb Trailhead I ascended the very steep 4000ft ascent to Griffith Peak Summit, arriving about 4:30am. For details and a video on the ascent to Griffith Peak Summit, see the Griffith Peak page.

Second Leg of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Across to Charleston Peak Summit

From the 11,056ft Griffith Peak Summit I descended about 300ft to the main South Climb Trail that spans the upper South Kyle Canyon Ridgeline through a beautiful alpine meadow, then through the 2013 burn area, up to a saddle, then across the upper South ridge of Kyle Canyon, past the 1955 CIA C-54 Military Air Transport Service plane crash site and then up the final steep ascent to the 11,918ft Charleston Peak. The sun began to rise as I passed the junction at the base of Griffith Peak. For details and a video on this leg of the adventure see the Charleston Peak page. I arrived at Charleston Peak around 7:20am.

Third Leg of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Down and Across to Lee Peak Summit

The video on this page from Charleston Peak Summit to Mummy Mountain Summit is more detailed since this was my first time to document this section of trail on this website. From the 11,918ft Charleston Peak Summit I descended the initially steep North Loop Trail. The snow had obliterated the trail in places so I went off trail. I missed the re-connection with the trail at first and lost a couple hours wandering around the North side of Mt. Charleston. After finding the trail again I crossed some remaining snow fields with rather steep drop-offs to the West ridge of Kyle Canyon. This section of the adventure traverses some of the most beautiful ancient bristlecone pine forests in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. At the end of the West Ridge of Kyle Canyon, before turning right and downward along a series of steep descending switchbacks I took the short detour left up the Southwest ridge of Lee Peak to the 11,289ft summit, arriving there about 11:30am (adding less than a half mile distance and around 200ft elevation gain to the trip).

Fourth Leg of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Down Lee Peak and Across to Mummy Mountain Summit

I circled down the Northwest Ridge of Lee peak to reconnect with the North Loop trail and descended some rather steep switchbacks to the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon. After about 1.5 miles and 1/4th mile BEFORE the North Loop trail descends toward the Trail Canyon Trail Junction, I took a left off the Upper North Loop Trail, rising about 50ft to the top of the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon (see the video on this page for details). I could now look to my left and see Lee Canyon, while to my right I could see Kyle Canyon for the next 2 miles. This is the beautiful hidden route along the top of the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon from the upper North Loop Trail directly to Mummy Mountain. This upper ridge for the first mile is a wide open and fairly level surface. A faint path appears, disappears then reappears a number of times. So, don’t look for a path, just stay on the right side of the ridgeline and you’ll stay on track. After about 1.5 miles the last half mile includes some tricky weaving around to the ridge along the top of the “horrifying half-mile” avalanche slope of the Mummy Mountain approach. See the Mummy Mountain page. Now I continued along this ridge rising up and then angling to the left to the V-shaped canyon final approach to Mummy Mountain Summit as seen on the Mummy Mountain page. I arrived at the summit about 1:45pm.

Final Leg of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit Adventure Descending from Mummy Mountain Summit to the Trail Canyon Trailhead

From Mummy Mountain Summit, I retraced the route down the V-shaped canyon, circling left to the ridge that descends to the top of the “horrifying half-mile” avalanche slope. See the Mummy Mountain page for a detailed video and description of this leg of the adventure. I descended the slope to the North Loop Trailhead. Then I took a left and descended to the Trail Canyon Junction. At the junction I took a right and continued descending for about 2 miles to the Trail Canyon parking area and my car, arriving there at 3:10pm. Successful conclusion of the 4-Peak Mt. Charleston Wilderness Circuit adventure! After taking an hour off for video and picture recording and another 2 hours off for getting lost on the North side of Mt. Charleston and an average of 15 minutes on each of the 4 peaks totaling 4 hours, the total running/walking time for this adventure came to 9 hours and 40 minutes.