This adventure taught me how great the difference is between traveling on established trails and traveling through wilderness areas. To be exact, it takes about 1/3rd of the time to travel on established, well-maintained trails, even when such travel covers a longer distance and involves dramatic changes in altitude.
For example, in terms of the Fletcher Peak – Mummy Mountain – Lee Peak adventure it takes 2 1/2 hours to get from the summit of Fletcher Peak to the Summit of Mummy Mountain when traveling on the established North Loop Trail. On the other hand, it takes between 5 and 6 hours when traveling through the wilderness along the East Side of Mummy Mountain, even though the actual distance is much shorter and there is much less elevation gain and loss. It takes about 3 hours to travel from Mummy Mountain to the upper North Loop trail along the top of the uncharted wilderness area of the upper North ridge of Kyle Canyon. On the other hand, even though descending from the summit of Mummy Mountain directly down the avalanche slope to the closest connection to the North Loop Trail involves a 1,500ft drop followed by reascending 1,100ft to the upper North Loop Trail, the total time is under 90 minutes!
Conclusion: If you want to travel across the wilderness in search of a short cut, forget it. Find the nearest trail even though the distance may be longer.
For this reason, you will see 2 adventures on this page, when finished. The first adventure will include detailed videos showing how to traverse the upper North ridge of Kyle Canyon between Mummy Mountain summit and Lee Peak summit via that “shortcut”. That adventure took about 10 and a half hours and ended about 1 mile short of the summit of Lee Peak. The second adventure will show a streamlined 3-peak circuit on established trails including Fletcher, Mummy and Lee Peak summits and is estimated to take between 8 and 9 hours.
That said, it would be hard to find 3 more beautiful mountaintops than Fletcher Peak (10,319ft), Mummy Mountain (11,528ft) and Lee Peak (11,289ft). The links point to pages devoted to these mountaintops (Except for Lee Peak which appears on the 4-Peak Circuit Adventure page. Fletcher Peak and Mummy Mountain are both topped by beautiful ancient bristlecone pine forests. On the other hand, Mt. Charleston summit is completely barren. You’re more likely to see deer on Fletcher Peak than on any other of the 6 highest summits in the Mt. Charleston wilderness. And the views from Mummy Mountain and Lee Peak cover both Kyle and Lee Canyons and across to Gass Peak, the Desert National Wildlife Refuge and La Madre Mountains and wilderness bordering on Red Rock Park.
The Fletcher Peak, Mummy Mountain, Lee Peak Circuit begins at the Trail Canyon Trailhead in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. See detailed directions to that trailhead on the Mummy Mountain West page of LasVegasAreaTrails.com.
From the Trail Canyon Trailhead, head up 2 miles to the Trail Canyon/North Loop Trails junction and take a right to Rain Tree, then another right to Fletcher Peak (see the Fletcher Mummy Circuit page for more detail on the trail directions from the Trail Canyon Trailhead to Fletcher Peak summit.
Descend again retracing your steps to the Trail Canyon/North Loop Trails junction and take a right to continue upward on the North Loop Trail to the Mummy Tree (large dead standing Bristlecone Pine tree with an “M” sketched on it and an arrow pointing to the right up the avalanche slope I call “The Horrifying Half“). Continue up this slope and take a right at the top following the directions on the Mummy Mountain West page to the summit of Mummy Mountain.
From Mummy Mountain summit, descend back to the top of and avalanche slope. Here is where you have a choice of continuing to descend the avalanche slope until it meets the North Loop Trail, then take a right on the North Loop Trail toward Lee Peak. Or, you can go to the right at the top of the avalanche slope and take the “shortcut” along the top of the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon to rejoin the upper North Loop Trail about a mile below Lee Peak summit. Note that shortcut will take 2-3 times longer! Let’s assume you’ve opted to take the shortcut. There is no ridge more beautiful than the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon with sweeping views of Kyle Canyon and Lee Canyon along most of the route. The Bristlecone Pine forest on that ridge is intact as opposed to the burnt Bristlecone Pine forest on the South ridge of Kyle Canyon.
During the first quarter mile of this leg of the journey you’ll weave around rocks, mini-avalanche slopes, cliffs and fallen trees until you gain the upper North ridge. The best direction I can give is to take a good look at the video which shows this portion of the adventure in detail. Soon to come will be a more detailed downloadable .pdf. After about 1/4th mile the ridge will broaden out and becomes much easier to traverse. You will rise up to the top of the prominent hill you saw back where this ridge began at the top of the Mummy Mountain avalanche slope. At the top of this hill, the ridge then veers to the right heading straight for Lee Peak. The terrain broadens out even more and becomes much easier to traverse. Continue along the top of the North Ridge of Kyle Canyon towards Lee Peak until you see an abandoned ski lift tower. At this point, take a left off of the ridge for an easy 100ft walk to rejoin the upper North Loop Trail.
Once on the upper North Loop Trail, take a right. You’ll continue for about a mile, the last part of which rises dramatically through a series of steep switchbacks. At the top of these switchbacks, leave the trail and veer off the trail to the right up the mountain slope to the summit of Lee Peak. There is a faint trail that splits off to the right of the North Loop Trail. More detailed directions and pictures to come soon!