Overview – Little La Madre Mt | Little El Padre Mt (aka) Summerlin Peak, Las Vegas, Nevada
Why the Name “Little La Madre & Little El Padre?
Okay, I know I have a little explaining to do here. These two features are not in the La Madre Mountains Wilderness. To my knowledge they have no names other than being on a ridge referred to as Summerlin Ridge just beyond the Northwestern growth area of Las Vegas, Nevada.
I base my title on the following:
- Similarity: The two features are amazingly similar in shape to La Madre Mt. and El Padre Mountain. As with La Madre and El Padre Mountains viewed from the South, the one on the right (East) is a sharper, more pointy peak, the one on the left (West) is more elongated and rounded.
- The Notch: There is a “notch” saddle between the two.
- Proximity: The two features are near the Southeastern border of the La Madre Mountains Wilderness and actually a part of the same ridge system (Keystone Thrust) upon which La Madre and El Padre Mountains rest.
- Facing: The Southern facing approach to these mountains is a sharper cliff while the Northern facing approach is more gradual.
- Little Burnt Peak?: If you look closely, you can see a sharp peak to the left (West) of El Padre Mt., and a sharp peak to the left (West) of Little El Padre Mt. Similar in placement of Burnt Peak to the original La Madre & El Padre Mts?
- Elevation: One of the biggest differences is that Little La Madre & El Padre, at a little above 5,000ft, are about 3,000ft lower in elevation than La Madre and El Padre Mountains, a little above 8,000ft. Thus the name “Little La Madre” and “Little El Padre”.
In short, when Little La Madre & El Padre are compared to the actual La Madre and El Padre, they look like miniature versions of the originals (see the first 2 slides of the slide show on this page to compare the two features). Of course, no geological features are exact duplicates, but the similarity here, to me, is pretty striking.
Time of Year to Visit
Being just a little above 5,000ft in elevation, Little La Madre and El Padre Mts. are best visited between late Fall and early Spring as temperatures in this area at this elevation can easily reach 110 degrees during the Summer months!
Trailhead Directions – Little La Madre Mt | Little El Padre Mt (aka) Summerlin Peak, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nevada
Begin at the upper end of Lake Mead Blvd off of Hwy 215 in Las Vegas. You’ll see a pullout on the right (North) side of Lake Mead Blvd. It looks like a future bus stop, so beware of parking there once the housing construction in the area is complete! In that case, you may need to go further up Lake Mead Blvd. looking for a new parking area.
Route Observations – Little La Madre Mt | Little El Padre Mt (aka) Summerlin Peak, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nevada
You’ll notice a large ridge system ahead and a bit to the right (you can’t miss it). Start out heading along the base of this ridge system.
Initial Exploration – Scope Out the Mountain Base and Trails in the Canyon
Various Climbing Levels from Class 3 to Class 5
Little La Madre, Little El Padre and Little Burnt Peak, though about 3000ft lower in elevation than their namesakes. However they are still rather imposing with sheer cliffs facing their South and Western sides. For this reason, I decided to make this initial exploration to scope out the base of these mountains looking for various potential approaches. Turns out most of the approaches are class 4-5 ascents up sheer cliffs, but there are some potential class 3 approaches on both ends of the cliff areas.
The Canyon’s Extensive Trail System
In addition, I’m fascinated with the many well constructed and maintained trails in the large canyon at the South and Western sides of these mountains (above Lake Mead Blvd.). I believe that some mountain biking club is maintaining the trails? Some trails have small hand-made plaques giving trail names such as “Hold Fast” and “Wicked Gardens”, and I observe mostly small, scattered groups of mountain bikers along the trails. There are not enough bikers to disturb hikers or vice versa. I was one of only 2 hikers on the entire trail system this Saturday, when one might expect the highest volume of traffic. I saw only 4 or 5 small groups of mountain bikers.
The Trails Are Class 1-2, Easy to Navigate
Because the trails are made for mountain bikers they are all class 1-2 with gradual inclines and declines, few rocky obstacles, controlled dips and rises and fairly gentle turns. Basically, if you’re moving fairly rapidly on a mountain bike you’re not exposing yourself to potential disaster.
Central Canyon Circuit Trail
As I moved up beyond the current end of Lake Mead Blvd. and angled over toward the base of the cliffs, I soon found myself on one of these great trails. This particular trail turned out to make a large circuit of the canyon traveling up the North East side, circling around the upper canyon and then descending along the South West side back to Lake Mead Blvd. This is the main canyon trail and looked about 3-4 miles total.
Now there are off-shoot trails. One parallels the initial portion of the trail along the base of the Little La Madre, El Padre and Burnt Peak cliffs, only at a higher altitude. This is the “Hold Fast” trail. It’s about 2 miles in length and weaves along the upper cliff base of the mountains. Another off-shoot trail, “Wicked Gardens Trail” tops the ridge on the upper Southwestern end of the canyon. The top of that ridge gives an incredible view of the next valley where Little Red Rock sits at the base of Damsel Peak. Additional mountain biker grade trails weave beyond the ridgetop and down through the Little Red Rock Canyon.
My Route on This Initial Exploration Day
On this initial exploration day, my route was to head up the main trail at the base of the Little La Madre, El Padre and Burnt Peak cliffs, circle around the upper end of the canyon, then take the trail leading to the top of the ridge overlook of the Little Red Rock area. Then, I retraced my way back to the canyon wash leading to the upper saddle just beyond Little Burnt Peak. I went off trail to explore the canyon wash up to the base of the saddle and it’s final approach. That canyon has a lot of boulders, however, you can weave around the boulders without having to do much if any climbing. The final approach to the saddle at the top of the canyon wash looks like class 3 navigation, and the distance is only about a quarter mile. I’ll return to summit the saddle then explore the ridge in both directions.
Launch Ramp Mountain
If you top the saddle and take a left, you’ll be ascending a feature I call “Launch Ramp Mountain” since it has a long angled slope that looks like a ski jump or launch ramp. If you take a right at the top of the saddle you are heading up the ridge to the summit area of Little Burnt Peak, Little El Padre and Little La Madre mountains. Launch Ramp Mountain stretches along the top of the canyon that is above the upper end of Lake Mead Blvd. and is a pretty obvious landmark.
Images and Videos Document Potential Summit Approaches
Today I was able to get some great images and videos of the entire Northwestern, Western and Southwestern sides of Little Burnt Peak, Little El Padre and Little La Madre mountains along with potential approaches, which are clearly documented in the slide show and video on this page.
Finally, I returned back to Lake Mead Blvd. via the upper cliff-side “Hold Fast Trail”. This trail makes a great return route in the afternoon affording incredible views of the Las Vegas Strip and high points surrounding the Las Vegas Valley with just the right lighting. On this windy day the air was particularly clear.
Views Along Today’s Route
It’s hard to name all the mountain landmarks I observed along today’s route, but here are some of the main ones:
- Little La Madre, Little El Padre and Little Burnt Peak
- Launch Ramp Mountain
- Little Red Rock
- Damsel Peak
- La Madre Mountain
- El Padre Mountain
- The Beginning to the Canyon Pass to Kyle Canyon Road
- The Rainbow Mountains – Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain, Mt. Wilson, Indecision Peak
- North Peak
- The Wilson Ridge
- Potosi Mountain
- Blue Diamond Mountain
- Frenchman Mountain
- Sunrise Mountain
- Fortification Hill
- Black Mountains and Mt. Wilson in Arizona
- Muddy Mountains
- Lone Mountain
- Gass Peak
I’m missing a few landmarks, there were many more, but at this time I was able to identify these.