Outer Circuit Trails

Peak 3844 Loop & Other Inner Trails

Overview | Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails | Calico Basin, Nevada

Whether you’re a hiker, runner or mountain biker…even a body builder…the trail network in the Calico Basin is an incredible place for daily workouts. In addition to introducing you to the Calico Basin trail network, this page is also a great introduction to the Calico Hills.

Note: To learn more about the Calico Basin and future BLM plans for these trails see the 2022 BLM Calico Basin Recreation Area Management Plan and Final Environmental Assessment 

Why is the Calico Basin trail network a great venue for daily workouts?

  • Great Surface: Most of the trails are relatively free of obstacles. And the earthen surface is much more friendly to muscles and joints than the asphalt and cement surfaces of city streets. Unlike higher mountain trails, the Calico Basin trail network has a snow and ice-free surface nearly year ’round.
  • Variety of Inclines: Hills build strength, and there are a number of great strength-building hills. Distance builds endurance, and you can link trails in the network together to create marathon distances.
  • Surface Variations: Your feet strike the uneven ground at different angles with each step. These surface variations build flexibility and agility. On the other hand, the flat, hard surface of asphalt and cement can lead to repetitive motion injuries as your feet constantly strike the same surface at the same angle.
  • Peace and Tranquility: While on these trails you escape the noise of city streets and the need to dodge traffic and stop frequently at intersections. Instead, there’s peace which creates the uninterrupted space for higher thinking.
  • Spectacular Views: Unlike the limited few hundred feet of visibility between buildings on city streets, there’s an expansive view encompassing distant valleys, mountains and ridgelines.
  • Intellectual Challenge: As there are no straight lines in nature, your mind is continually fed both consciously and subconsciously with unique sights at every moment. Compare this to the artificial straight lines of city buildings and streets.
  • Full Body Workout: The many huge climbing boulders along the way present an opportunity to strengthen your upper body in a natural setting.
  • Multi-Use: You can hike, run or mountain bike on the Calico Basin trails. Note that the Eastern and Southern trails in the network are open to mountain biking, as are many trails in the neighboring Brownstone Basin. Trails on the Western side are reserved for hikers and runners. 
  • Convenient Proximity: The Calico Basin trail network is only a few minutes from metropolitan Las Vegas.

What Trails are Included in the Calico Basin Trail Network?

There is both an outer loop and a number of inner trails.

Outer Loop Trails:

The outer loop trails begin at Gene’s trailhead and are traversed in the following order in the video on this page:

  • Freeway Trail (good also for mountain biking)
  • Donkey Way Trail (good also for mountain biking)
  • Red Spring Ridge Trail
  • Red Spring Boardwalk
  • Calico Basin Trail
  • Girl Scout Trail
  • Ash Spring Trails
  • Kraft Mountain Loop (South edge)
  • Gene’s Trail
  • Gateway Washington Trail (good also for mountain biking)
  • Powerline Maintenance Road Trail (good also for mountain biking)
  • Half Wilson Trail (good also for mountain biking)

Sounds like a lot of trails, but the entire loop can be traversed in a few hours. Shorter stretches and the inner trails create shorter workouts down to 30 minutes or less in length.

Trails within the Loop:

  • Gene’s Trail
  • Peak 3844 Trail
  • Powerline Maintenance Road Trail (good also for mountain biking)
  • Numerous additional unnamed trails and trail variations

Trail Navigation Considerations:

  • Strengthen Your Ankles or Wear Hiking Boots: If you’re used to walking or running on city streets, give yourself gradual time over weeks or months to strengthen your ankles to avoid injury. At first you will be conscious of every step. Eventually, your foot placement will become more subconscious allowing you to enjoy the expansive views during more of your trail time.
  • Vary your exertion: Alternate long and short distance days; Alternate steep hills and more level or gradual inclines. Take a “recovery” day off weekly. 
  • Build Up Gradually: Don’t add more than 10% total weekly distance covered over the preceding week’s total distance.  
  • Avoid mid-day Summer heat: Mid-Summer temperatures can rise into and even above the high 90’s. During hot Summer days do your trail workouts in the few hours after sunrise.

If you like the Calico Basin daily workout trails, you’ll love the Blue Diamond Hill daily workout trails!

Trailhead Directions | Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails | Calico Basin, Nevada

From Hwy 215 in the Summerlin area, take the Charleston Blvd exit, turn upward (West) on Charleston Blvd toward the mountains. Charleston Blvd becomes Blue Diamond Rd. (159) as you leave the city. Take the Calico Basin exit off 159 (right turn) onto Calico Basin Road. Park at Gene’s Trailhead near the beginning of Calico Basin Road.

Trail Description | Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails | Calico Basin, Nevada

The route described below will take you on a loop around the outer perimeter of the Calico Basin. Along the way I point out some connecting trails to additional adventures outside the loop and connecting trails that cut through the interior of the loop. All these additional “off-loop” trails can be future adventures for you in and around the Calico Basin. 

Freeway Trail to Red Spring Ridge Trail

Beginning at Gene’s trailhead, cross to the West side of Calico Basin Road. Notice a long low ridge ahead and slightly to your left running to the West. The Freeway trail runs along the top of this ridge toward Red Rock Canyon. Aim for where this ridgeline meets Calico Basin Road. Once on the ridge, head West on the Freeway trail toward Red Rock Canyon. The Rainbow Mountains are ahead (West), Blue Diamond Hill is to your left (South). Note that Blue Diamond Hill has its own awesome network of daily workout trails!

Continue on the Freeway Trail past the Southern end of the Calico Hills until you see a signpost for the Grand Circle Loop. Turn right here onto a trail that heads down into the wash at the Southern base of the Calico Hills. Once in the wash, turn right to skirt the Southern base of the Calico Hills. You’re now on the Donkey Way Trail, though there is no sign marking that trail. This stretch is spectacular between the huge sculpted sandstone boulders lining the base of the Calico Hills and the majestic cliffs above.

If you continued on the Donkey Way Trail, you’d end up back at Gene’s Trailhead. Instead, as you reach Southeastern corner of the Calico Hills, turn left to ascend the Red Spring Ridge Trail. Notice a huge balancing rock formation on the Southeastern corner of the Calico Hills and a branching off trail marked Calico Hills Overlook. You could take the short out-and-back detour to the overlook before continuing up the Red Spring Ridge Trail.   

Red Spring Ridge Trail to Calico Basin Trail

At the summit of the Red Spring Ridge Trail you’ll see the Red Spring Oasis Boardwalk below to your left along with an unmarked trail branching off in that direction.  Take that trail down to the boardwalk where you’ll find an open gated entrance into the boardwalk. The video takes the boardwalk in a clockwise direction. Once on the boardwalk, take time to view the many informative interpretive displays and learn important facts about the Calico Basin area. The Red Spring Oasis Boardwalk is a little over a half-mile and makes a great walking loop.

Exit the boardwalk and stay to the left along the edge of the parking area below to find the Calico Basin Trailhead.

Calico Basin Trail to the Girl Scout Trail

Turn left onto the Calico Basin Trail, which will skirt the Eastern base of the Calico Hills. Another future adventure is a left turn a couple hundred feet ahead to the Calico Basin Grand Staircase. But today, continue on the Calico Basin Trail. In about a quarter-mile you’ll round the popular Cannibal Crag climbing boulder. Notice the white chalk marks on the boulder, indicating its use as a climbing destination. You’ll see many climbing boulders with white chalk marks along the South side of Kraft Mountain, possibly a few actively being climbed. The sport is called “bouldering”, and is training for more intense climbing on the sandstone cliffs in the area.

Not long after Cannibal Craig, you’ll pass through Calico Spring, the second spring on this route. Note the effect of water in bringing this area of the desert to life. The Calico Basin Trail ends soon after at the Girl Scout Trailhead. At that trailhead, take a moment to look upward into the Calico Hills to view the Black Corridor. This is a spectacular passage through the Calico Hills between the Calico Basin and Red Rock Canyon…another future adventure. View the Lower Calico Hills Loop and the Upper Calico Hills Loop pages on this site. 

Girl Scout Trail to the Kraft Mountain Loop

Turn onto the well marked Girl Scout Trail. Now you’re heading toward Kraft Mountain. As you ascend to round the first large turn note a small picnic area with nice tables, grills and a spectacular view of the entire Calico Basin and points beyond. Now, coming into view ahead, is the huge pink-looking Kraft Mountain. The mountain just to the left is New Peak. Pink Goblin Loop circles the base of New Peak ascending through Pink Goblin Pass (to the right of New Peak) circling the Northern side of the peak and descending Ash Canyon (to the left of New Peak) back into Calico Basin. That’s another great future Calico Basin adventure.

But for today, continue on the Girl Scout Trail to eventually descend into Ash Spring, the largest spring in the Calico Basin. Ash Spring is beautifully populated with huge evergreen desert holly trees, Gamble’s Oak and Ash trees–the latter two are dormant late Fall through Winter, but come to life in the spring. Ash Spring is carpeted with a field of grass swaying in the wind.

Once you descend into Ash Spring, take a right onto the Ash Spring trail. The Ash Spring Trail will take you to the connection with the Kraft Mountain Loop Trail

Kraft Mountain Loop to Gene’s Trail

Turn left off the Ash Spring Trail and onto the Kraft Mountain Loop, heading at first upward toward Pink Goblin Pass. As you reach the base of Kraft Mountain, take a right onto a small unmarked trail that skirts the Southern base of Kraft Mountain, eventually connecting again with the Kraft Mountain Loop.

The Kraft Mountain Loop is a popular daily workout trail making a complete 3.6-mile circuit of Kraft Mountain. It ascends Pink Goblin Pass on the West side of Kraft Mountain and descends the East side of Kraft Mountain through Gateway Canyon. That’s another great future adventure.

Today, continue along the Southern base of Kraft Mountain. Notice a number of large, chalk-marked popular climbing boulders along the way, some actively being climbed.

Gene’s Trail to the Half-Wilson Trail

At the Eastern edge of Kraft Mountain leave the Kraft Mountain Loop to continue East, straight across Gateway Canyon on the well-marked Gene’s Trail. Soon you’ll turn left off of Gene’s Trail and onto the unmarked Gateway Washington Trail. The key is to continue skirting the base of the mountains to your left and heading toward a low ridgeline saddle on the near horizon. The Gateway Washing Trail will become wider and more distinct at it approaches that ridgeline saddle.

To the left of the Gateway Washington Trail is the huge Gray Cap Ridge and peak, larger than Kraft Mountain, but not as well known. That’s another future adventure. You would have accessed Gray Cap Ridge and its peak had you remained on the Kraft Mountain Loop as it ascended Gateway Canyon. The best known access to Gray Cap Peak is from the summit of Gateway Canyon.

To the right of the Gateway Washington Trail is Peak 3844 and it’s smaller ridge. If you had stayed on Gene’s Trail you would have cut across the Peak 3844 ridgeline to return to Gene’s Trailhead where you began. Peak 3844 also has its own trail to the peak. These are additional future adventures, and both these trails would make great variations to your daily workout trails.

But for today, continue on the Gateway Washington Trail heading toward the East edge of the Peak 3844 ridge. Before you reach the East edge of Peak 3844 Ridge, you’ll turn left off the Gateway Washington Trail and briefly onto a Powerline Maintenance Road trail that will take you to the East edge of Peak 3844 Ridge. There you will connect with the last trail on today’s circuit, the Half Wilson Trail. Note that the Gateway Washington Trail, Powerline Maintenance Road and Half Wilson Trail are all unmarked!

Half Wilson Trail to Gene’s Trailhead

At the East edge of Peak 3844 Ridge, turn right onto the unmarked Half Wilson Trail as it circles the East edge of the ridgeline. 

Future adventure: If you had continued East on Powerline Maintenance Road instead of turning right on the Half Wilson Trail, you would have soon reached Brownstone Road in the Brownstone Basin. Here’s the most challenging daily workout trail for a future adventure, Brownstone Road and the Brownstone Trail ascends the entire length of Brownstone Basin to its summit and part way up the La Madre Ridgeline above. The Brownstone Trail gets steeper and steeper as it approaches the La Madre Ridgeline. It’s a great strength-building trail.

But today, continue to round Peak 3844 Ridge on the Half Wilson Trail. You’ll see Blue Diamond Hill and the Rainbow Mountains ahead as your guide. The Half Wilson Trail skirts the Southern base of Peak 3844 Ridge. After crossing a couple intervening ridgelines, it will eventually descend to your starting point at Gene’s Trailhead!

Peak 3844 Loop Off Gene’s Trail – Inner Loop Trails

During another adventure, while returning from the Brownstone Basin Trail, I decided to visit Peak 3844. Peak 3844, also known as Horse Peak, is a small summit in the lower Calico Basin. So, I approached Peak 3844 from the East instead of using it’s most common route from Gene’s Trailhead (see below). Regardless, the video on this page documents the entire Peak 3844 Loop with a portion of Powerline Maintenance Road on the East end and Gene’s Trail on the West end. Just reverse the sequence of trails if you’re approaching Peak 3844 Loop from Gene’s Trailhead. 

The elevation of Peak 3844 is 3,698ft 
Total elevation gain from Gene’s Trailhead to Peak 3844 summit is 258ft

Peak 3844, though a rather small summit, has a spectacular view of the entire Calico Basin area, the surrounding high points in the basin and distant high points which include the La Madre Mountains ridgeline, Rainbow Mountains and the Las Vegas Strip. With its 258ft elevation gain the Peak 3844 Loop makes a great quick strength-building workout.

The most common approach to the Peak 3844 Loop is to take the left branching trail at Gene’s Trailhead, then take a right within about a quarter mile onto the Peak 3844 Loop. The loop is unmarked, but it’s the first right off of Gene’s Trail and you can see Peak 3844 ahead. Just head toward the peak. The loop will take you up the West side of Peak 3844. Leave the loop to take the brief summit approach switchbacks. From the summit, descend the switchbacks to continue the loop. You’ll pass through a beautiful cactus garden, then descend past the power lines to the North base of Peak 3844’s ridge. Take a left (West) onto the Powerline Maintenance Road which will take you back to Gene’s Trail. A left onto Gene’s Trail will take you back to Gene’s Trailhead in less than a mile. 

Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails Summary

Congratulations! You’ve completed the outer loop of the Calico Basin trails. Along the way you’ve discovered a number of additional adventures in the Calico Basin. Great introduction to this amazing area with a potential to entirely revolutionize your daily workout routine…if you let it!

Brownstone Trail: The Best Marathon Workout Ever!

A description of the Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails would be incomplete without including the 26-mile out and back Brownstone Trail with its 3000ft elevation gain! This could possibly be the best marathon training trail anywhere. The trails are good enough to run along the entire route from Gene’s Trailhead in the Calico Basin to the trail’s summit a good way up the base of the La Madre Mountains ridgeline. Learn more about the Brownstone Trail.

Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails | Calico Basin, Nevada
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Calico Basin Daily Workout Trails | Calico Basin, Nevada
This extensive network of trails in the lower Calico Basin, Nevada, is an awesome setting for daily conditioning workouts whether your sport is hiking, trail running or mountain biking. The trail system is just a few miles from metropolitan Las Vegas, making access convenient. Work out year-round in a natural setting on a healthy running surface. Build strength, endurance, flexibility and agility!
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