Overview | Schaefer Springs Loop Trail | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Adventure slide show week of November 12th, 2023

Where the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail passed through lush tall Juniper and Pine forests rising from a bed of Ashy Silk Tassel and Pointed Leaf Manzanita, the shorter 1.6-mile Schaefer Springs Loop Trail features expansive views up and down Lovell Canyon. In addition, since the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail spans both the East and West side of Lovell Canyon, the views expand to include the high ridges on both sides of the canyon. On the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail you will see:

  • The Sexton Ridge (West side of Lovell Canyon): Full ridgeline ascending to its summit at Griffith Peak.
  • The Wilson Ridge (East side of Lovell Canyon): From a couple miles below Rocky Gap Road to the ridgeline summit at Harris Mountain.
  • The Griffith/Harris Saddle (Upper North end of Lovell Canyon): Complete saddle including the full length of the Griffith Peak back country trail.

Why does the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail have increasingly expansive views?

There are two reasons for the more expansive views:

  1. The Schaefer Springs Loop Trail is at an overall higher elevation than the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail.
  2. The trail ascends into the 2013 Carpenter Fire Burn area.

The taller trees were lost during the Carpenter Fire Burn, leaving the area wide open. In this new space the lower shrubs and plants, especially Ashy Silk Tassel, Pointed Leaf Manzanita and returning Mountain Mahogany have returned in a big way. In some places they create impenetrable 5ft high walls of brush on the slopes surrounding the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail and on up to the Griffith Shadow Loop Trail and above.

Where do you enter the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail?

The Schaefer Springs Loop Trail (recommended clockwise direction) branches off the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail just .1 mile above the Lovell Canyon main wash on the lower North side of Handy Peak. Handy Peak is that large rocky hill inside the Lovell Canyon Loop at that Loop’s upper (North) end.  

Navigating the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail

Taking the loop in a clockwise direction helps ensure you at least complete the most well-defined stretch of trail on the loop before descending into the Lovell Canyon main wash. In that wash, the trail becomes a bit more sketchy. However there are abundant cairns to help ensure you stay on the trail.

Trail Connections on the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail

  1. Griffith Shadow Loop Trail: You can connect with the Griffith Shadow Loop in its counterclockwise direction from both the upper and lower end of the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail where it crosses the Lovell Canyon main wash (more detail below). However, that first mile on the Griffith Shadow Loop Trail above the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail is very faint and overgrown with brush. It’s easy to loose the trail! For this reason, I recommend taking the Griffith Shadow Loop Trail in a clockwise direction beginning where it branches off at the summit of the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail.
  2. Lovell Canyon Loop Trail: The Schaefer Springs Loop Trail intersects the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail in two places: In its counterclockwise direction where the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail first enters the Lovell Canyon main wash and in its clockwise direction just .1-mile above that point on the lower North side of Handy Peak.

Best Time of Year for This Adventure

The average altitude on this adventure is between 6,000 – 7,000ft and so I recommend this as a good adventure for Fall or Spring.

  • Winter can get very cold and windy. Though the trail may be open through the Winter, prepare to encounter snow.
  • Summer temperatures can rise toward the upper 90’s.

Trailhead Directions | Schaefer Springs Loop Trail | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Take Hwy 160 from Las Vegas toward Pahrump. The highway ascends over a “hump” (the Potosi Mountain area). There’s a saying around here, “Over the hump to Pahrump”. Well, you’ve just traveled over that hump. Around 4-5 miles from the point where the highway begins to descend toward Pahrump there is a well-marked sign on the right for Lovell Canyon Road. Proceed 12 miles up the well-paved road until the pavement ends and an unpaved road branches off to your left 1/4th mile from the official Lovell Canyon Trailhead which will be on the right. There is ample parking across from the trailhead which will be on your right.

The actual Schaefer Spring Loop Trail begins about 2.3 miles up from The Lovell Canyon Trailhead.

Trail Observations | Schaefer Springs Loop Trail | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Entering the Schaefer Springs Loop

As recommended above, take the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail in a clockwise direction from its entrance .1 mile above the Lovell Canyon main wash on the lower end of Handy Peak (video on this page follows that route). There’s a nice sign pointing the way onto the loop entrance. It’s a right turn off the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail

Cairn-Guided Wash Crossings on the Schaefer Springs Loop

You’ll begin by crossing a wash. The crossing is well marked with cairns. This is the first of 3 canyon wash crossings, all well marked with large cairns. The other two crossings come later in the Lovell Canyon Main wash. Why the cairns? Brush rapidly grows in the wash, often obliterating the trail. At times, the only way you can stay on track through the wash is to go from one cairn to the next!

Ascending to the High Point on the Schaefer Springs Loop

After crossing that first wash, the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail becomes more well-defined as it steadily ascends along the hills above the base of Lovell Canyon. Views continually expand along the way. In particular, you’re viewing the upper West side of Lovell Canyon all the way to the Sexton Ridgeline.

Arrival at the High Point on the Schaefer Springs Loop

At its high point, the Schaefer Springs Loop turns toward Lovell Canyon’s main wash. Spectacular views emerge of the Wilson Ridge on the East side of Lovell Canyon all the way from Harris Mountain at the North end to Rocky Gap Road and beyond to the South.

Descending into the Lovell Canyon Main Wash (Signs of the Brush-Obscured Griffith Shadow Loop Trail)

From its high point on the West side of Lovell Canyon, the loop now descends into the Lovell Canyon main wash. If you look carefully directly across the wash, you can see a couple large cairns buried in the brush leading across the wash to a low ridgeline. There’s a trail heading North (left) along that ridgeline. I believe the brush-covered cairns and that trail are the faint evidence of the Griffith Shadow Loop Trail heading up Lovell Canyon. This may be a key to that “missing mile” on the Griffith Shadow Loop, described and documented in the video on that adventure page.

Crossing the Lovell Canyon Main Wash on the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail

If you intend to stay on the Schaefer Springs Loop, ignore those cairns and the faint trail along the low ridge immediately across the wash. Instead, watch for a series of cairns descending across the wash at an angle. This is the continuation of the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail. Note that a channel has been carefully scoped out in the rocks. The cairns along with the channel help make it relatively easy to remain on the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail as it crosses over to the East side of the Lovell Canyon main wash. I can’t guarantee this channel will be there in future seasons. In the future it may become obscured by the rapidly growing brush and Spring run-off in the wash.

Target Point on the East Side of the Main Wash 

If the trail across the wash should become obscure in the future, just aim for a low vertical rocky ledge across the main wash. The Schaefer Springs Loop Trail resumes on the East side of the wash at the lower end of that rocky ledge. Where it resumes on the East side of the wash, it becomes well-defined for the remainder of the loop–at least until the point where it crosses the main wash again back to the West side.

Target Point on the West Side of the Main Wash

Just be aware that brush grows rapidly in the Lovell Canyon washes! Brush and Spring runoff are continually obliterating trails where they cross the washes. So, watch for reference points. The low end of the rocky ridge on the East side of the wash is a good reference point to reconnect with the Schaefer Springs Loop Trail there. That rocky ridgeline descending from Handy Peak to the West edge of the main wash is another good reference point to reconnect with all the main trails in the Lovell Canyon trail system.

Realize that if you often navigate trails in the Lovell Canyon main wash, there will be a time when you loose the trail. Not to worry. Just be aware of the larger reference points and prepare to wade toward them through 5ft high thick brush and large rocks in the wash. The challenge can be fun, but be sure not to run out of daylight!!

Summary

The Schaefer Springs Loop Trail offers spectacular views up and down Lovell Canyon making it well worth taking this added extension above the Lovell Canyon Loop Trail!  

Summary
Schaefer Springs Loop | Lovell Canyon, Nevada
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Schaefer Springs Loop | Lovell Canyon, Nevada
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Schaefer Springs Loop in Lovell Canyon NV, is a quick loop extension of the Lovell Canyon Loop featuring expansive views up and down Lovell Canyon. This loop connects further up with the Griffith Shadow Loop Trail.
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LasVegasAreaTrails.com
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