Detailed Climbing Directions

Lower 1/3rd Route Direction Video

Mt Wilson in Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada

Navigating Lower 2.5 Miles of First Creek Canyon

Sights and Sounds of Water In First Creek Canyon

Mt. Wilson, Nevada Overview

Mt. Wilson, Nevada, at 7070ft elevation is the highest mountain in the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness to the West of Red Rock Park, Nevada. Mt. Wilson is that square-topped mountain visible from most of the Las Vegas Valley. The inverse is true: From the summit of Mt. Wilson one can see nearly all of the Las Vegas Valley along with the Rainbow Mountains including Indecision Peak, Rainbow Mountain, Juniper Peak and Bridge Mountain.

Along with the other mountains in the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Mt. Wilson is largely composed of “frozen” sand from the Jurassic age of the dinosaurs about 150 million years ago. As is true of all rock composed of this material, you will want to avoid climbing within 2 days of rain as the surface becomes something like a skating rink when wet – very dangerous! When covered with snow it is worse. The best times to hike or climb are in the Fall, Winter and Spring. During the Summer months temperatures can rise to 110 degrees or more and it’s near impossible to carry enough water for an extended adventure.

Mt. Wilson, Nevada, Trailhead Directions

It’s possible to approach Mt. Wilson, Nevada from the South, the North, the West and the East. My initial approach, and the most popular, is the First Creek Canyon Trailhead located on Blue Diamond Road just a few miles beyond the exit of the Red Rock Park Scenic Drive. Take I-215 to the Charleston Exit in Summerlin, head West up Charleston Blvd. As you leave the Summerlin residential area Charleston Blvd. will become Blue Diamond Road heading toward Red Rock Park and beyond. The First Creek Canyon Trailhead is a wide parking area on Blue Diamond Road that can accommodate around 20 cars, so it’s best to arrive early in the day.

Mt. Wilson, Nevada, Trail Description

Lower First Creek Canyon

At the First Creek Canyon trailhead head directly toward the South (left) side of Mt. Wilson. You’ll see a canyon on this side of the mountain. Make this your point of reference. There are detailed directions (like the downloadable directions on this page), but my best advice is to stick to the big picture frame of reference. I’ve seen countless hikers staring at their smart phones trying to follow granular directions (turn this way at this rock or tree…etc.) and totally lost in an elaborate maze of rabbit trails. I myself did this in the beginning, until I finally put my smart phone down and focused on the big picture.

Mt. Wilson, Nevada Navigation Strategy

What is the big picture? Very simple – Follow these 4 basic guidelines:

  1. Stay as close to the left edge of First Creek Canyon as you can without descending into the canyon.
  2. Stay on the most highly used well beaten path that skirts First Creek Canyon.
  3. Stay out of the brush below to your right in First Creek Canyon and off the cliffs to your left at the base of Indecision Peak.
  4. If you find yourself needing to bushwhack or climb a huge boulder or cliff, you’re off track, because the passage, though faint at times successfully weaves around boulders and through the thick brush.

Mt. Wilson, Nevada Mid-Section of First Creek Canyon

As First Creek Canyon begins to narrow, about a mile and a half up the canyon where Mt. Wilson is directly on your right, you will need to cross First Creek and travel about 1/8th mile on the right side of the creek. You’ll come to a pond, cross back to the left side of First Creek where that pond begins and ascend about 50 ft, then take a right at a faint trail and continue along the upper left side of the canyon. After another 1/8th mile you will descend again into the canyon and proceed up the middle of the canyon. Cairns will appear along the way helping guide you along the best route.

Mt. Wilson, Nevada Route Timing

On my first trip in Spring of 2019 I made it about 1.5 miles up the canyon until I became tangled in the underbrush and turned around.

On my second trip in early April of 2020 I discovered the above strategy and made it 2.5 miles which is about half way to the summit. I could have gone further, and the strategy was working well, but I’d burned up 4 hours meandering around through the rabbit trails and working out the strategy, and it was a rest day from my 30 mile ultra marathon the week before to the Eastern Summit of Gass Peak from Centennial Hills. Curiously, though it took me 4 hours to travel 2.5 miles up First Creek Canyon, the return trip took only 1.25 hours. I believe my next trip will land me on Mt. Wilson Summit.

Two weeks later, on my third trip I made it a little further up First Creek canyon, and this time it only took 2.5 hours vs. 4 hours. Along the way I created a very detailed directional video. I was stopped near where there is a large pine tree on the Indecision Peak wall of the canyon. In the dry gravel creek bed at the base of the canyon I was faced with a wall of huge boulders that looked very imposing, yet there was a cairn at their base indicating someone was suggesting that route. Rather than go over the boulders I retraced a hundred feet down the canyon and then ascended about 200ft up the Indecision Peak wall of the canyon where there was a faint trail. That trail dead-ended above the Pine tree. It may be possible to ascend further up the Indecision Peak side and circle above all this, but it looked to me on this day that ascending higher could quickly become a study in class 4 or 5 climbing. All accounts say that the First Creek Canyon route up Mt. Wilson is only class 3 climbing. I’ll return to sort things out. Mt. Wilson climbs are my “rest days” from 20 and 30-mile trips up Gass Peak and La Madre Mountain this Spring. I’ll push a little further upward each time.

Initial Exploration of Summit Approach, Spring 2019, Bogged Down by Brush & Boulders