Fletcher View Ridge | Mt Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Overview – Fletcher View Ridge | Mt Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Fletcher View Ridge is located above Fletcher Canyon Trailhead and Fletcher View Campground on Kyle Canyon Road in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness of Nevada.
Benefit: The Spectacular Views!
It’s a fairly quick hike delivering unique incredible views of Fletcher Canyon, Fletcher Peak, Mummy Mountain, Lee Peak, Charleston Peak…basically all the high peaks and ridges above upper Kyle Canyon along The Charleston Loop Trail with the exception of Griffith Peak. The entire Eagle’s Nest Loop area soon comes into view below and eventually you’ll see Angel Peak and The Sheep Range. You can even trace the route through Fletcher Canyon below, up that canyon, and all the way to Fletcher Peak summit. You can see the saddle between Fletcher Peak and Mummy’s Toe, and I believe I actually identified Raintree by sight (see the slide show on this page). Cockscomb Ridge is also visible along with much of the descent back to the Trail Canyon Trailhead: All future adventure routes! You just can’t see this particular perspective of The Mt. Charleston area from any other location.
The hike has a convenient trailhead and primitive restroom at the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking area and begins with a well-graded, but unmarked trail just over the bridge behind the restroom. At least the first 1/4th – 1/2th mile is on that nice trail. After that, you’re pretty much on your own ascending a well defined wilderness ridge through a former burn area. However, the going is fairly easy up this open ridge and it’s not hard to weave your way around light brush and fallen trees on the ridge. Tread lightly and respect the growth as you ascend through the recovering burn area. The ridge is open enough that there is no need to whack any plants along the way!
One great feature of this adventure is that you can choose how far up the ridge you want to go. Choose your round trip distance between 2 and 5 miles. It’s an out-and-back trek and the unique spectacular views noted above soon begin to appear behind you and continually expand to become grander and more incredible by the minute. On the return trip you’re facing these views continually. It’s like being on a mountaintop the entire way!
Potential of Reaching Harris Mountain Summit
If you are an extreme adventurer with advanced wilderness and rock climbing experience, I believe it’s possible to take this ridge all the way to Harris Mountain without exceeding the class 3 level of climbing, but on this day I turned around at a particularly steep (class 3+) point about 1,000ft below Harris Mountain summit. I can’t vouch for that last 1,000ft, but on maps it looks possible. I’ll test this out on a future adventure.
Best Time of Year for This Adventure
The best time of year for this adventure is after Winter snow melt…normally mid-June through mid-October.
Route Starting Point Directions – Fletcher View Ridge | Mt Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Begin at The Fletcher Canyon Trailhead. Driving to the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead is pretty easy: Up I-95 North from Las Vegas, take a left at the Kyle Canyon exit, continue about 20 miles up Kyle Canyon Road, pass the traffic circle at The Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway, pass the Deer Creek Road turnoff and Mt Charleston Lodge and then onward for less than a quarter mile to The Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking on your left. In all, it’s less than 40 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.
Route Observations – Fletcher View Ridge | Mt Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Fletcher Canyon Trailhead Parking Area to the Base of Fletcher View Ridge
From the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking area, cross the bridge behind the restroom. The far end of the bridge lands on a pathway. Do not turn right or left onto this pathway, but continue straight across the path where you will see a faint gravel pathway. Continue on this pathway as it angles upward and curves slightly to the left. The gravel pathway soon becomes more defined and looks as though it doubles as a maintenance road for power lines not far above. When you reach the power lines watch for a nice gravel surface trail splitting off to the right and upward. This will continue for 1/8th-1/4th mile before it finally empties onto an open ridge marked by fallen trees and low brush…evidence of a former burn area. In fact, the gravel road/pathway you have been following may have been an access road for fire fighters during the burn. Just a guess.
Beyond the Gravel Road/Pathway
Once on the fairly open ridge, it’s just a matter of weaving around fallen trees and growing brush. There is no trail or path from here onward, but navigating is not very difficult. There is always a clear passage around and through every obstacle and the incline is gradual. In addition, you’ll soon notice a gully on either side of this well-defined ridge, so it’s easy to stay on the center of the ridge as you ascend. Those gullies on either side become deeper and deeper the further up you go until they are mini-canyons, making it even easier to stay on course along the ridgeline.
Beyond the Burn Area
You began at 7,000ft at the trailhead parking area. By the time you reach about 8,000ft the burn area ends and the ridge narrows, now populated with a beautiful pine forest. At this point, watch for a faint trail that will guide your way upward through the trees. The trail indicates to me that this ridge was once a destination for hikers…before the burn. As you ascend the now forested ridge, the incline begins to increase, some stretches becoming rather steep, but still class 2, fairly easy on the trail.
By now, the views behind you are truly spectacular with all the points mentioned above commanding the entire landscape. This is where you could stop, have a picnic and decide to head back down the ridge. Your total out-and-back distance will be about 3, maybe 4 miles. There are few wilderness routes with such easy access and incredible pay-off as this route.
Dramatically Increasing Incline
You’ll know when the incline becomes really steep. By now you’re at about 8,500ft elevation, 1,500ft above the Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking area. That faint trail you are on is not steep, loose rock surface, avalanche slope terrain. Still, not horrible, and no exposure to a fall other than slipping on the gravel and falling on the ground directly beneath your feet. Due to the incline: Soon nearly a foot elevation gain per step and the looseness of the surface, by now you are taking one careful step at a time, still with no exposure to a dangerous fall.
The Rocky Bluff
Eventually, during the steepest incline, at about the 9,000ft level, the ridge is blocked by a huge rocky ledge. It looked to me as though the ledge continued over both the right and left side of the ridge, providing a complete barrier. However, there appeared to be a passageway through the ledge about mid-ridge. This is where I turned around. Continuing upward would have been high class 3 climbing with a very steep loose rock slope below. Not impossible, but I’d had enough for this trip. As mentioned above, subsequent map study seemed to indicate the ridge might actually become a bit more gradual on the upper side of the ledge, and continue upward to the higher and much more gradual ridge at the final summit approach to Harris Mountain. No guarantees or assurances: I have not been there yet!
When to Continue On, When to Turn Around?
Have you ever felt that the next stretch is just a bit more difficult than the last, followed by another stretch that is just a bit more difficult, luring you upward until you begin to feel the sum total of those small incremental increases in difficulty have brought you to a place that is way beyond your comfort level. This is how I felt by the time I looked up that passageway through the rocky ledge and decided to turn around. A bit unnerved. However, a future trip there may reveal that scary passageway to be so easy I’ll wonder why I did not press through the first time…or maybe it will be just as scary and I’ll turn around again.
The point is, that when you reach a place where you just don’t feel right, it might be best to turn around and live to experience your next adventure. Only you know when you reach that point, be it facing technical difficulty, exhaustion, limits of your physical conditioning, weather conditions, waning daylight or whatever concerns there may be. Listen to you best inner guide.
The Spectacular Return Trip
As mentioned, immediately upon turning around and beginning and throughout your descent on The Fletcher View Ridge, you will be faced with non-stop spectacular views commanding the entire landscape and horizon ahead. In addition, you’ll be effortlessly heading downhill (not a single foot of uphill during the descent)! This is the reward you have earned. Enjoy!
Somehow, by keeping a siting on a small bald hill across Kyle Canyon Road from The Fletcher Canyon Trailhead parking area, I landed exactly at the top of that nice gravel pathway that had guided the initial quarter-mile stretch. This pathway guided me back through the band of forest between the ridge burn area and the trailhead. Always good to identify a distinctive landmark at your start/end point when you’re on a wilderness route.