Lone Mountain is pretty awesome with a lot of bang for the buck in this short but spectacular hike. As you’re hurtling along I-215 between Centennial Hills and Summerlin, you’ve probably noticed a tall brown hill on the South side of the highway. If you looked closely you may have noticed small ant-like figures of people ascending and on top of the mountain. If you like to hike and explore, you may have wondered how those people got there. Is there a trailhead somewhere. However, if you’re like me you think you have more ambitious places to go: Mt. Charleston, Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Death Valley. Someday you’ll explore this tall brown hill.
Well, that someday finally came. After spending 1/4th of February in the hospital with a couple surgeries, I decided the second week of March that Lone Mountain might be the perfect place to be. And, Lone Mountain was an amazing surprise, leaving me with the feeling, “Why did I wait so long?”
Knowing literally nothing about Lone Mountain I systematically explored the area. First I found a good jumping off point: Lone Mountain Discovery Park. From there, I located a wide well graded trail I later discovered completely circled the base of Lone Mountain. A little above that wide trail I found a narrow pathway, more rugged and more with the feeling of a mountain trail. This pathway also completely circled the base of Lone Mountain just 50-100ft above the wider pathway.
Many walkers, runners, families choose the wide trail, and it looks like a good place to get a great workout while connecting with others. Very few choose the narrow path above, so this is a good place to experience a greater level of wilderness solitude. Great choices. Both trails completely circle the mountain and are a little over 2 miles in length, so one could make these a workout and, like a High School track, do multiple laps and even time yourself and create a conditioning baseline and goals. The narrow pathway is a great place to condition your feet, ankles and balance for higher wilderness trails.
So, the double trails circling Lone Mountain’s base were one great discovery. Another discovery was scoping out potential summit routes during my initial circuit of the base of Lone Mountain. Here’s what I found: There are three main class 2 routes to the summit. The first two begin at a parking area directly on the opposite side of Lone Mountain from the Lone Mountain Discovery Park (Northwest? The I-215 side.). I believe this is the Vegas Vista Trailhead described in the trailhead directions below. There is a main trail taken by about 95% of those who summit Lone Mountain. Near, just 2-300ft West of this main trail is a more narrow approach trail, looks a bit more challenging, but generally still class 2 climbing (meaning, you could do it without resorting to using your hands to hang on to rocks for stability and to aid in your ascent).
Then, a bit more around the mountain (and I was traveling clockwise on the circuit trail), there is a 3rd class 2 route to the summit. This meets up with the summit ridge and is a lot of fun. This is the route I took to the summit of Lone Mountain (described below).
Now, in addition to these 3 class 2 approaches, there are a number of class 3 approaches (mostly on the North, East and South side of the mountain. These look like fun, but not for the month after 2 surgeries! There are some potential class 4 cliff approaches on the West side of the mountain for more experienced climbers with equipment. However, I’m not sure whether attempting these is allowed. You may need to contact the Parks system to inquire. I can say that on the summit there were some metal loops sunken into the solid rock that looked as though these had once been used by climbers who roped up and repelled down the Western cliff face.
So, this is my summary of Lone Mountain summit approaches from a systematic exploration of the base of Lone Mountain. For the approaches I took on this day, see below.
One more important observation: As Lone Mountain stands pretty much alone…thus the name…the view from the summit is incredible. One can see the Sheep Range, Gass Peak, the Muddy Mountains, Frenchman Mountain, La Madre Mountains Wilderness, Potosi Mountain, The Rainbow Mountains, a glimpse of Mt. Charleston and even the pointy peak of Mt. Wilson in Arizona! In addition, there are many more high points of reference which I have not yet explored along with sweeping views of most of Las Vegas including the Strip!
215 South > Cheyenne Ave (Shadow Hills Exit), Turn left. Turn Right onto N Hualapai Way. Turn Left onto W Alexander Rd. Turn Right onto Vegas Vista Trail Road. Park along the road on the pavement on the opposite side to Lone Mountain.
Located at the Lone Mountain Discovery Park parking area on Jensen Road between Lone Mountain and Alexander Road. 215 South > Lone Mountain exit. Head downhill from the exit to Jensen St. Right on Jensen St to the Lone Mountain Discovery Park on the right.
On this day, after a complete clockwise circuit of the base of Lone Mountain on the narrow pathway that ran parallel to the wider route just below, I retraced my route from the Discovery Park back to the Northeast side of the mountain where there was what looked like a potential route to the summit ridge that might connect with the main route to the summit. Also, the angle of the sun behind me on this route made for a better view of the mountain and better pictures and videos. There was a lot of winding around obstacles on this route and skirting the edge of some healthy drop-offs, but the route was completely class 2, no hands needed. It was interesting and fun, and there was a nice experience of solitude as I was the only person on this route. This route summited the summit ridge just below the observation bench that is located on the main trail.
From the observation bench the main trail to the summit remains class 2 (no hands needed). The ascent is pretty dramatic in places and I found that staying on the solid rock stretches provided more stability than the gravel pathways around the solid rock. There were lots of people of all ages from small children to seniors. It was great observing people encountering this kind of mountain terrain and dealing with it at their various levels from beginner to highly experienced.
Then, there was the incredible view from the summit (described above). Though there were 20-30 people on the summit at this time, there was enough room to find a quiet spot to rest, look around and enjoy a snack.
I returned down the main trail. This trail is very well traveled and easy to navigate, though there are many places where you have multiple choices of ways to navigate around the rocks, and a few places where you find yourself asking, “Am I still on the main trail.” But generally, you’re only questioning your location for half a minute and quickly reassure yourself that you’re on the right trail. If not, there are enough other hikers around that you can just navigate to where they are walking in order to find yourself back on the main trail.
Around the observation bench on the main trail there is a smaller trail that branches off to the Northwest and heads downward. I did not take that trail on this day, but it is the third class 2 option for ascending and descending Lone Mountain.
In all, Lone Mountain offers a lot of variety in types of terrain and climbing experience. There are the circuit paths around the mountain, 3 class 2 routes to the summit and a number of class 3 (hands needed), class 4 (more technical rock climbing) and class 5 routes (equipment needed…possible not allowed on this mountain? Better check first.). In addition, the incredible views from the summit. And, by the way, those cars hurtling along I-215 look like ants from the summit of Lone Mountain!