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North Peak and the Rainbow Mountains North Upper Crest Ridgeline | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada

Overview of North Peak and the Rainbow Mountains North Upper Crest Ridgeline in Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada

These are among my first recorded videos on LasVegasAreaTrails.com, and this route one of my early favorites due to its wild nature and amazing views along the top of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline above the West side of Red Rock Park.

North Peak Summit

The summit of North Peak is like the turret of a medieval European castle with amazing views in one direction of Red Rock Canyon and Calico Basin including the Calico Hills Keystone Thrust cliff area, La Madre Mountain, Turtlehead Peak, Damsel Peak, Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain and Mt. Wilson. In the other direction one can see Griffith Peak and the Southern edge of the Mt. Charleston Wilderness. The last 50ft ascending the rock wall to that North Peak turret is a fun little puzzle to figure out the best route.

Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline

This route covers the Northern section of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline from the Willow Springs trailhead area in Red Rock Park to North Peak, just before the trail descending to the summit approach for Bridge Mountain. Another access point to the ridgeline would be to take Rocky Gap Road from it’s Southeastern end in Lovell Canyon. Either way, once you are at the summit of Rocky Gap Road just below North Peak you can either head South on the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline toward its Southern end at Mountain Springs Trailhead or head North on the ridgeline toward Willow Springs picnic area in Red Rock Park, the Northern access point for the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline .

Some Major Peaks in the Rainbow Mountains

In the video of my first adventure on the Southern ridgeline, I was encountering the Rainbow Mountain peaks below and attempting to number and identify them. Here is a more definitive description of the peaks following my later research. The peak numbers match the numbers in the video, but here are the names and position of the peaks from South to North, beginning from the Mountain Springs Trailhead. If you’re taking the ridgeline from the North, just start at the bottom of the list and move upward:

South Peak
Hollow Rock Peak
Windy Peak
Global Peak (Sprouts from the Northeastern Base of Windy Peak)
Black Velvet Peak
Mountain Springs Peak (between Black Velvet Peak and Hidden Peak) Unlike the others, is on the high ridgeline.
Hidden Peak
Monument Peak Further Out East, Higher
Note: There is a low, long peak between Hidden Peak and Indecision Peak
Indecision Peak
Mt. Wilson
Rainbow Mountain
Juniper Peak
Bridge Mountain
North Peak: Above Bridge Mountain and a bit further North on the Ridgeline

There are additional peaks below the ridgeline, but these (above) are some of the main peaks. Over time, I’ll attempt to summit them all from the ridgeline.

Getting to the Trailhead at Willow Springs Picnic Area

There is a close and a more distant trailhead to North Peak. The closer trailhead is at the top of Rocky Gap Road with a trail covering a short distance of a couple miles. You’ll need a 4-Wheel-Drive vehicle to get to this trailhead as Rocky Gap Road is extremely rough in places and I’ve run past more than one stalled 4wd vehicle on this stretch. The longer route involves starting at the Willow Springs picnic area in Red Rock Park and ascending Rocky Gap Road on foot. At any rate, the Willow Springs picnic area is a couple miles beyond the highest viewpoint on the main scenic loop road in Red Rock Park. Take a right turn off the Red Rock Park Scenic Loop Road and proceed to the picnic area at the end of the paved road.

Route Directions to North Peak

Ascending Rocky Gap Road

While at the Willow Springs picnic area take time to explore a bit. I understand there are petroglyphs and other signs of ancient native American habitation including agave roasting pits. Begin ascending the unpaved Rocky Gap Road at the Willow Springs picnic area. In about 1/2 mile continue on past the turn-off to the right that takes the Willow Springs Loop around White Rock Mountain. That turnoff also takes you to La Madre Springs and ultimately up to La Madre Mountain via the Western approach. But you’re not taking that today. You’re continuing up Rocky Gap road.

Ascending the Approach Ridge to the Summit of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline

In about 2 miles there’s a turn-off parking area and small cairn on Rocky Gap Road. You’ll see a ridge system to your left which is the beautiful Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline. There’s a ridge that ascends to the top of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline accessed from the cairn marker. The route is a bit touch and go with a trail appearing and then disappearing in places. At times the trail is very distinct, but as you rise up the ridge and reach the Red Rock area the boulders pretty much obscure the route.

The best strategy is to stay on the ascent ridge and go for the most logical route to the summit of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline. The ascent is pretty rapid and very soon you look down and Rocky Gap Road seems like a little toy road. Griffith Peak in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness begins to emerge behind you.

Once you reach the Red Rock area on this approach ridge there’s a kind of barrier bluff that you can circumvent to the left or the right. I usually choose the left route. Note that the red rock slabs at the base of this bluff are very slick when wet, and a 45 degree ice rink when icy!

The Route Along the Summit of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline to North Peak

The top of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline is totally beautiful, like a mini scene from Monument Valley Utah with amazing red rock formations and an emerging view of Red Rock Canyon. Take a left and continue along the top of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline for another 2-3 miles. A faint trail will help you at times, abandon you at other times. Stay as close to the top of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline as possible, avoiding the temptation to descend left down the ridge.

Final Ascent to North Peak

After ascending and descending a few high points, in a couple miles you will reach a high point you cannot ascend without climbing a class 3-4 rock formation. This is North Peak. Skirt around the left side of the peak, then just before passing it take a sharp right and ascend the rocks to the summit of the peak. As mentioned, the view is amazing from the small turret-like area at the top!

Descent from North Peak

I sometimes descend from North Peak about 1-2 miles to its Rocky Gap Road trailhead and then run Rocky Gap Road back to the Willow Springs picnic area. The descent trail to Rocky Gap Road is only about 1/8th mile beyond North Peak. It’s clearly marked. Alternately you could continue straight along the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline and on to the access trail to Bridge Mountain. You could even continue along the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline all the way to its Southern access point at Mountain Springs Trailhead on Hwy 160 at the base of Potosi Mountain.

Wilderness Connections to Additional Points of Interest

Additional multi-day adventures could include a crossover to the Wilson Ridge and ascent along that ridge all the way to Harris Mountain Summit, then down Harris Mountain saddle to Griffith Peak Summit, finally descending to the Lovell Canyon Trailhead via Sexton Ridge. Or, from Griffith Peak Summit one could take the Charleston Loop to Charleston Peak, Lee Peak, Mummy Mountain, Fletcher Peak and finally down to the Trail Canyon Trailhead in Kyle Canyon. Everything is connected in this vast wilderness area just outside Las Vegas. You could loose yourself here for days on end!

Alternate Route to North Peak Via Rocky Gap Road

As you may have guessed, it’s possible to ascend Rocky Gap Road from its origin at the Willow Springs picnic area and stay on the road for about 5-7 miles to its summit, where there’s a trailhead to North Peak and Bridge Mountain. North Peak would only be about 1-2 miles from that upper trailhead. If you decide to 4wd Rocky Gap Road have a very rugged vehicle and don’t be too concerned about banging it up a bit.

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North Peak and the Rainbow Mountains North Upper Crest Ridgeline | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada
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North Peak and the Rainbow Mountains North Upper Crest Ridgeline | Rainbow Mountain Wilderness, Nevada
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The summit of North Peak is like the turret of a medieval European castle with amazing views in all directions. This article covers the Northern section of the Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline from the Willow Springs trailhead area in Red Rock Park to North Peak.
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LasVegasAreaTrails.com
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