Mary Jane Falls | Mt. Charleston Wilderness | Spring Mountains, Nevada
Only the Peaceful Sights and Sounds of Water
Mug Shot: Crime Ring at Mary Jane Falls!
Overview | Mary Jane Falls | Mt. Charleston Wilderness | Spring Mountains, Nevada
Mary Jane Falls is a great easy-to-moderate 1.6-mile hike to a year-round high cliff waterfall (3.2 miles round trip). If you want to see an actual waterfall (video and slide show on this page) vs. damp, dripping rocks, visit Mary Jane Falls in early May.
Altitude Conditioning with a Surprise Cave View
This is an excellent altitude conditioning hike to prepare for higher elevations in the Spring Mountains later in the Summer. The altitude at the upper end of the Mary Jane Falls trail is around 8,800ft. Don’t miss the surprise cave in the cliffs just a couple hundred feet South of the falls. Enjoy a spectacular framed view down Kyle Canyon from inside the cave.
Spectacular Views from The Mary Jane Falls Trail
There are spectacular views down the length of upper Kyle Canyon that keep getting better as you ascend the trail to the falls. Included are Charleston Peak, Griffith Peak, Cathedral Rock and the majestic cliffs that form the upper end of Kyle Canyon.
Best Time of Year to Visit Mary Jane Falls
The best time of year to visit Mary Jane Falls is mid-to-late Spring (April-May) as snow drifts may block the trail during earlier months and the falls dwindle to a trickle in later months. In addition, Summer temperatures at the altitude range on this trail can rise to near 100 degrees.
Trailhead Directions | Mary Jane Falls | Mt. Charleston Wilderness | Spring Mountains, Nevada
Take Hwy 95 North from Las Vegas for about 25 miles. Turn left onto Kyle Canyon Road at the Kyle Canyon Road Exit on Hwy 95. Take Kyle Canyon Road about 20 miles. You will pass through Charleston Village. Just before Kyle Canyon Road takes a sharp left at the upper end of Charleston Village continue straight onto Echo Canyon Road. There is a sign for Mary Jane Falls at that point. In a half mile park at the Trail Canyon Trailhead parking area. Walk up Echo Canyon Road for another quarter mile to the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead.
Route Observations | Mary Jane Falls | Mt. Charleston Wilderness | Spring Mountains, Nevada
Relatively New Trailhead Parking Area
I parked at the Trail Canyon Trailhead thinking that was the closest parking area for Mary Jane Falls. However, as I headed up the approximately 1000ft nice unpaved road beyond the Trail Canyon Trailhead I was surprised by additional parking along the road and a relatively new trailhead parking area with primitive restrooms at the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead.
Initial Stretch – Gradual Angle of Ascent
The first stretch on The Mary Jane Falls Trail is through a beautiful forested area with emerging views of the South rim of Kyle Canyon to the left (South) and the rugged avalanche slope at the base of the North rim of Kyle Canyon to your right. On this day, it felt as though nature was breathing a sigh of relief from the unusually deep blanket of snow cover during this heaviest snow Winter in years. New plant life had not yet begun to emerge from ground that was still damp from recent snow. The angle of elevation gain is pretty gradual throughout this stretch of trail, but increases as you advance. The trail itself is wide with a gravel base.
Second Stretch – The Switchbacks!
This first stretch of trail ends with a sharp right U-turn up a artful stone stairway to the first of a series of switchbacks. Notice a log blocking continued forward advance. This log is to help hikers make that turn upward onto the switchbacks. On the other hand, if you step over the log and continue straight, you’ll find yourself on the route to another destination: Big Falls.
As you turn right to head up the switchbacks, the trail narrows, the angle of incline sharply increases and the view of Kyle Canyon’s South rim cliffs becomes more spectacular along each switchback. As you ascend the switchbacks during the high waterflow Spring season you can hear what sounds like a faint breeze gradually growing in volume until you realize you’ve been listening to the sound of water cascading over the cliffs above. There are not too many switchbacks…much more tame than the South Climb Trail toward Griffith Peak or the North Loop Trail toward Raintree.
Final Approach to the Falls
Once you’ve reached that final switchback and continue along the base of the cliffs, the falls become visible ahead. On this early May day three distinct falls were visible tumbling over the high cliffs with the force of a firehose! Be sure to watch for the location of the cave in the cliff just a couple hundred feet South (to the left) of the falls. You want to visit that cave!
Spring Snow Drifts Along the Trail
There were still snow drifts at the base of the falls on this day. It’s always a wonder to observe streams of water emerging from beneath a high mountain snow drift and realize you are seeing the very birth of a creek! Enjoy gazing straight up the high vertical cliffs above to see water cascading downward toward you. There’s nothing like the energy of water rushing in your direction!
The Cave with the Spectacular View
Now it’s time to head over to the cave. There is a kind of trail leading to brief tame scramble up the rock surface into the mouth of the cave above. As you enter the cave and turn around, the sudden view is shocking! There, before you, is the length of the upper end of Kyle Canyon beautifully framed by the cave opening and the surrounding trees. This is one of the great photo opportunities in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness.
Permanent Cave Inhabitants
I think many people spend time resting in the cave, enjoying the view and a refreshing snack. The chipmunks in the area have also made this realization. They’re waiting for you and will boldly approach looking to share your lunch.
Identity: Palmer’s Chipmunk (Charleston Chipmunk), found only in the Spring Mountains and nowhere else on earth!
Returning to the Trailhead
Well, the moment finally arrives to leave this incredible scene and head back to the trailhead. Be encouraged by the fact that it’s literally downhill all the way!