Slide show by 2/8/2023
Blue Diamond Hill is an amazing workout area with spectacular views of the Rainbow Mountains, Red Rock Canyon, La Madre Mountains Wilderness, Sheep Range, Gass Peak, the Las Vegas Valley and Strip and too many points beyond to name here.
And, the variety of trail experiences ranges from hiking to running to mountain biking and equestrian adventures. The gradual inclines have made these trails a popular weekly or daily workout for many who have their favorite routes. There are even caves to explore on Blue Diamond Hill.
If you really want to get the most out of the extensive Blue Diamond Hill trail network, you might want to take time to systematically experience each unique route until you know them all. Then, you will be rewarded with an almost endless variety of mix-and-match trail experiences on this great hill. Your regular workouts on Blue Diamond Hill will never get old.
The network of trails on Blue Diamond Hill is rather complex and the trails are unmarked. There is a series of canyons and ridges that look fine on a map, but when you’re out there it’s often your best guess as to which trail you are actually on. You start on one trail, then there is an unmarked branch to the right, a little later another unmarked branch to the left. Each branch splits off again. I refer to this as a network of “Rabbit Trails”.
One great strategy to understand a network of unmarked “rabbit trails” is to begin with a wide perimeter outer circuit. During this circuit, notice where the canyons and ridges begin and end. Notice trails that branch off into canyon and ridge openings.
After your outer circuit, study the map again in order to recognize the relationship of points on the map with sights you actually witnessed.
With Blue Diamond Hill it took me two attempts to make the original outer circuit. On the first exploration, the Eastern Outer Circuit (clockwise direction), I circled around too soon and ended up cutting through the middle of Blue Diamond Hill, missing the Western region. So, on this second exploration I reversed the direction (counterclockwise) and successfully made a complete wide circuit of Blue Diamond Hill. This “reverse maneuver” has helped me navigate much more difficult wilderness areas.
With each circuit I began to recognize more reference points, and now am ready to tackle the ridges and canyons of Blue Diamond Hill.
Stick to Mid-Fall through Mid-Spring. You may experience some snow during the Winter months, so be prepared. However, the snow melts quickly and doesn’t tend to linger on Blue Diamond Hill. Summer temperatures can easily exceed 110 degrees. Visit higher elevations in the Summer, like The Mt. Charleston Wilderness.
Take the Charleston exit off Hwy 215 in Las Vegas. Head up toward the mountains (Red Rock Canyon). You’ll pass Calico Basin and then the Red Rock Canyon entrance. Just a bit beyond that watch for the Cowboy Trail Rides on the left.
Park in the Fossil Canyon Trailhead area on the South (left) side of Highway 159 outside the Cowboy Trail Rides operation.
Starting at the Fossil Canyon Trailhead parking area, head West (toward the Rainbow Mountains) staying as close to Highway 159 as possible. Eventually, you’ll meet up with an unpaved road. Take a left (South) on the unpaved road. Notice a couple high ridges to your right (West) between the road you are on and the Rainbow Mountains.
When you see a few human made gouges in the ridge on your right (the purpose of these gouges is unclear), ascend the ridge to its summit. There you will find a great trail that will take you along the ridge to its high Southern point. I love traversing ridges because the views are at their best. There are great views of Blue Diamond Hill to your left (East), the Rainbow Mountains to your right (West) and continually expanding views of Red Rock Canyon behind you (North).
At the high South point on the ridge, notice a couple radio towers on Blue Diamond Hill to the West and a series of huge mining mounds in the Gypsum Resources Mining operation below and just South (to the right) of the radio towers. You want to chart a course West to the right of the radio towers and hugging the edge of the mining area. This will bring you to the highest point on Blue Diamond Hill: The Maverick Helicopters windsock hill on the Eastern ridgeline of Blue Diamond Hill. This is your point of reference. Roads and trails will weave in and out. Just keep a steady approach toward the Maverick Helicopters windsock hill (see the video and slides on this page for reference).
Your first challenge is to descend the Western Ridge highpoint. The descent slope is steep with loose rocks and boulders and a series of 6-10ft ledges to navigate. It’s just difficult enough to be fun and is not dangerous as long as you securely plant every step and don’t put your full weight on any rock or boulder. A cool reward is finding rocks and boulders embedded with ancient fossils on this descent route that is rarely traversed that therefore undisturbed.
Once at the base of the Western ridge, you’ll reconnect with the unpaved road system that will wind along the North edge of the Gypsum Mining area. Keep your focus on the far Eastern high ridge to the right (South) of the radio towers as you reach the upper end of the mining hills.
At the upper end of the mining hills, find a ridge that will continue upward toward the Maverick Helicopters windsock hill, which is becoming more prominent at this point. On this ridge, you’ll eventually come across a trail as you continue to ascend.
Just before the windsock hill, you’ll descend through a small canyon and then re-ascend straight for the windsock hill. By now you may be able to actually see the windsock.
When you reach the windsock, you are at the best 360-degree view on Blue Diamond Hill. In addition to the reference points mentioned above, you can now see Griffith Peak and Mummy Mountain in the Mt. Charleston Wilderness to the Northwest!
The rest of this circuit is all on good trails. Take a left (North) from windsock hill toward the upper radio tower. You’re now on the Overlook Ridge Trail. Continue on Overlook Ridge past the radio tower enjoying non-stop views! Eventually the trail takes a left (West) through a small canyon toward the next ridge to the West.
When you reach the edge of the next ridge, you have a choice:
The Bob Gnarly Trail winds downward through Skull Canyon. You’ll begin on one of two upper branches of Skull Canyon. Both branches soon converge in the upper part of Skull Canyon. As you wind downward through Skull Canyon there are spectacular towering cliffs on each side. To your left (West) is the high ridge of the Bone Shaker Trail. To your right (East) is the high ridge of the Bomb Voyage/Muffin Trails. It’s like another world in that canyon, which has its own beauty. The trail is very good.
As you near the lower opening of Skull Canyon you’ll meet up with the Bomb Voyage/Muffin Trails that have been winding downward from the high ridge to your right (East). Continue downward to the base of Skull Canyon and angle left to the equestrian corral and your starting point at the Fossil Canyon Trailhead parking area. Congratulations! You’ve completed a huge Western circuit of Blue Diamond Hill!