Lovell Canyon’s bordering ridgelines give the canyon both a majestic and an intimate feeling. The towering ridgelines create a majestic look while enclosing the canyon in its own unique, intimate wilderness area.
These spectacular ridgelines add over 20 additional adventure possibilities to Lovell Canyon’s four main established trails (Lovell Canyon Trail; Lovell Canyon Loop; Schaefer Springs Loop; Griffith Shadow Loop). Where the Griffith Shadow Loop gives a great overview of Lovell Canyon at mid-elevation, the ridgelines offer a spectacular eagle’s view of the canyon, its surrounding wilderness areas and far beyond.
However, in contrast to the established trails, the Lovell Canyon ridgelines are pure pathless wilderness. In order to traverse these ridgelines, you will need some basic wilderness navigational skills. Navigation along the ridgelines is aided by the fact that you are on a ridgeline. Just stay as close to the upper center as possible. You’ll experience some light class 3 rock scrambling in a few places (need to use both hands and feet). There will be some steep, loose-rock slopes, especially on the approach to the ridgelines. But for the most part, you’re traversing gentle slopes with wide-open views. The Sexton Ridgeline and upper Wilson Ridgeline have the most gentle slopes. The Rainbow Mountain Upper Crest Ridgeline is marked with a series of 1-200ft high points to traverse. The lower Wilson Ridgeline, wildest and most isolated, is marked with a series of frequent high points over 300ft that are like their own individual mountain summits. In addition, there are a few major vertical canyon gaps in the Wilson Ridgeline. To traverse the Griffith/Harris Saddle is to summit two 1,500-2,000ft mountain peaks.
Know that during your adventure on these isolated ridgelines you will not see another soul. It’s a good idea to gain ridgeline experience by gradual degrees. Summit a ridgeline and become familiar with the summit route. In a later adventure, move on to traversing sections of the ridgeline. Become familiar with multiple ridgeline access routes so you can easily find a close route to descend from the ridgeline. On the isolated Wilson Ridgeline, nearly every high point has its own descent ridge back to the base of Lovell Canyon. Bring everything you need, and know your limits. Shorter initial adventures will help you establish your limits in this kind of terrain. Have a clear turn-around time and stick to it. And finally, it’s not advised to traverse these wild ridgelines in the dark! Stick to daylight hours.
A one-day out-and-back or loop adventure on the ridgelines requires ultra-marathon energy. For example, from the Lovell Canyon Trailhead to the summit of Griffith Peak and back is over 20 miles with an elevation gain of over 5,000ft. Compare the 4,500ft ascent from Kyle Canyon to Charleston Peak. A great loop strategy might be to begin at the Lovell Canyon Trailhead and ascend to Griffith Peak Summit. Spend an incredible starry night there. You might want to have stashed extra water and overnight gear on Griffith Peak the day before via the shorter Griffith Peak Trail from Kyle Canyon.
On Day 2, take the Griffith/Harris Saddle from Griffith Peak Summit to Harris Mountain Summit. Finally, descend the Wilson Ridge to its Southern High Point, then back to the Lovell Canyon Trailhead. That’s an adventure you will never forget!
You’ll instantly notice the absence of trees along Sexton Ridge, Wilson Ridge and the Griffith/Harris Saddle. This is due to the 2013 Carpenter Fire which destroyed the majestic Pinyon, Ponderosa and Bristlecone Pine forests on these ridgelines. This is a tragedy that will take nature centuries to repair. However, the absence of trees for now creates open spectacular views along with fields of wildflowers. Respect the recovering burn area and tread lightly! There are a number of articles on the Carpenter 1 Fire. Here are a few:
To traverse the majestic Lovell Canyon Ridgelines is to experience the canyon and the vast wilderness of Southern Nevada in a unique and unforgettable way. You’ll see surrounding areas including The Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Las Vegas Valley, Lake Mead, Potosi Mountain, Red Rock Canyon, Rainbow Mountains Wilderness, Nopah Range and all the way to Telescope Peak on the West side of Death Valley and Mt. Wilson in the Arizona Black Mountains. That’s just a short list! Enjoy!