Mummy Springs Loop | Cougar Ridge Trail Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Mummy Springs Loop Overview, Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Mummy Springs Loop is an awesome hiking or trail running workout! You’ll park at the North Loop Trailhead, take a short 1/8th-mile stretch down Deer Creek Road to Cougar Ridge Trail Road, ascend that road and trail about 2000 feet straight up the healthy incline of Cougar Ridge Trail, take a left at Mummy Springs Trail, Cross beneath Mummy Springs, head to Raintree then take a left down the North Loop Trail back to the North Loop Trailhead. If you are an elite runner you may be able to run up Cougar Ridge, but most runners will walk up Cougar Ridge and Trail, then run the more gradual incline for the remainder of the loop. All surfaces are top quality unpaved roads and trail. There are no avalanche slopes and no wilderness areas to traverse. It’s the perfect racing/conditioning loop!
2 Incredible Deviations
You might even add in a couple challenges: Fletcher Peak out and back from the North Loop Trail (add about 30-45 minutes) and a quick deviation to a spectacular ridge above the North Loop Trail (add only about 5-10 minutes).
Sights Along the Way
Sights you’ll see along the way: Full views of Mummy Mountain’s East side; Sheep Range, Fossil Ridge, Gass Peak, Frenchman Mountain, La Madre Mountain, Fletcher Peak, Harris Mountain, Griffith Peak, Cathedral Rock, Kyle Canyon South Ridge, Raintree, Mummy Springs and more! That’s a pretty well packed collection of scenic views for a single 8-10 mile loop run or hike!
Mummy Springs Loop Trailhead Directions, Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Take I-95 for about 25 miles North of Las Vegas, turn left at the Mt. Charleston exit onto Kyle Canyon Road, travel another 20 miles, then take a right onto Deer Creek Road toward Lee Canyon. Continue about 5-7 miles to park at the North Loop Trailhead on the left side of Deer Creek Road.
Mummy Springs Loop Observations, Mt. Charleston Wilderness, Nevada
Which Loop Direction? Counter Clockwise or Clockwise?
You can take the loop in either direction, starting up the North Loop Trail and looping counter clockwise around and back down to the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Cougar Ridge Trail Road, then travel the short 1/8th mile stretch on Deer Creek Road back to your car at the North Loop Trailhead.
However, I suggest taking the loop in a clockwise direction which means parking at the North Loop Trailhead, taking that short 1/8th mile stretch on Deer Creek Road to the intersection of Deer Creek Road and Cougar Ridge Trail Road, then looping back down to the North Loop Trailhead. Why clockwise? Because the angle of ascent up the Cougar Ridge Trail is pretty steep and forces most runners to a walk. If you were to descend the Cougar Ridge Trail going in the opposite direction, you’d probably still be slowed to a walk due to the angle of descent, and that steep descent is more punishing on the joints. Taking the loop clockwise allows you to ascend Cougar Ridge and descend the North Loop Trail at a pretty rapid run. Same energy efficiency if you’re walking.
Clockwise Loop Observations
On this first loop adventure I actually took the loop in the clockwise direction because I was not sure it was a loop! All I knew was that there was something that looked like a trail forking downward shortly after passing Mummy Springs when traveling in the direction from Raintree. I did not know where that trail ended on Deer Creek Road, of even if it descended all the way to Deer Creek Road. So, the best way to find out is start from the top and see where I ended up! As it turned out, I ended up on Deer Creek Road only about 1/8th mile from the North Loop Trailhead!
North Loop Trail to the Plateau
So, on this day, I started up the North Loop Trail along the familiar route toward Raintree. After about 20-30 minutes running or 45 minutes walking, the North Loop Trail breaks out of the forest into a beautiful plateau with spectacular views. Looking across to the East Side of Mummy Mountain, in the Fall you can see a band of bright yellow colored Fall Aspens. That is the Mummy Springs area and just beyond that band is Cougar Ridge, which you will eventually be descending.
Planet Switchback Through the High Ridge Deviation
Continuing past the plateau, you’re immediately confronted with a 500ft ascent of about 14 switchbacks. I call this section “Planet Switchback”. At the summit of the switchbacks there’s the choice of continuing on the North Loop Trail or branching off to the right on a faint trail that continues to ascend the ridge. This right branch is actually one of the most spectacular ridges with incredible views, and well worth the 5-10 minute deviation before it connects back to the North Loop Trail about 1/4th mile above Rain Tree.
Fletcher Peak Trail Deviation
Just before you get to Raintree you’ll pass 2 cut-away logs crossing the trail that are only about 100 feet from each other. The second cut-away log marks the beginning of the out and back Fletcher Peak Trail (another deviation well worth the 45 minutes it will take).
North Loop Trail to Raintree and Mummy Springs
Back at the North Loop Trail, continue the descent to the 3000-year-old Raintree, then take a right toward Mummy Springs. You’ll seldom see water flowing over Mummy Springs. Rather, it’s a 12 foot high, 150 foot long rock ledge that in a couple places is damp with the water that slowly drips over it.
However, in late September and early October, the Mummy Springs area is lined with spectacular bright yellow Fall aspens. In mid-late November and beyond that water flowing over the rock ledge freezes and builds up into an incredible ice fall! Well worth the trip!
Beyond Mummy Springs to the Cougar Ridge Trail Fork
Continue along the trail which looks like it ends at the Aspens at the base of Mummy Springs, but actually re-appears after about 10-30 feet once again becoming a well-established trail. Within less than 1/8th mile you’ll see an unmarked trail branching downward to the right.
Additional Options at the Cougar Ridge Fork
You can see a number of options if you don’t take that downward branch to the right which include traversing the East side of Mummy Mountain to eventually ascend the summit from the East (Mummy Mountain East, Mummy Mountain Northeast, Mummy Mountain Northern Overlook pages on this site). You can also ascend a series of switchbacks to Mummy Mountain’s Knees and to Mummy Mountain’s Toes. All of these are awesome adventures.
Descending Cougar Ridge Trail to Cougar Ridge Trail Road
On this day, we take the unmarked trail that branches to the right. This turns out to be Cougar Ridge Trail. It descends rather dramatically above Mummy Springs Canyon through majestic bristlecone pine forests, then to Pinyon Pines(?) and finally connects with Cougar Ridge Trail Road. The descent, though dramatic, is very stable and at no point degenerates into an avalanche slope. There’s always a good foothold, and never a moment where you might loose the trail. The trail is well-traveled and distinctive along its entire route.
Cougar Ridge Trail Road to Deer Creek Road, Then Back to North Loop Trailhead
Eventually, the trail converges onto the unpaved Cougar Ridge Trail Road about 1.5 miles above Deer Creek Road. You’ll pass by a few abandoned cabins and then some occupied dwellings. There are a number of branches off this road, but if you always keep to the right you’ll stay on track. Near the bottom of the road there is what looks like an abandoned park with picnic areas. Lower in that park it appears still in use. I’m sure there is an entrance to this park off of Deer Creek Road. However, stay to the right, continue above the park. The road will ascend a bit, then descend to the intersection of Cougar Ridge Trail Road and Deer Creek Road. Take a right on Deer Creek Road and you’ll be at the North Loop Trailhead in around 1/8th mile.
Reverse All These Directions to Travel Better Counter Clockwise
As I mentioned, the ideal direction for the Mummy Springs Loop would be counter clockwise, so just reverse all the directions above to travel the loop in the better counter clockwise direction. The only reason I traveled the loop in a clockwise direction was that I was not sure where the loop ended on Deer Creek Road and most certainly would have missed the small obscure cairn that marked where Cougar Ridge Trail branched off from Cougar Ridge Trail Road had I made that first trip from the base of Cougar Ridge upward!
I can’t wait to be healed from my plantar fasciitis foot injury and time this loop at a run!!