Wilson Ridge South High Point | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Wilson Ridge South High Point | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Important Nodal Point for Future Adventures

The Wilson Ridge South High Point on the East side of Lovell Canyon, Nevada, is an important nodal point for future adventures:

  1. To the North: Wilson Ridge to Harris Mountain Summit
  2. To the West: El Bastardo, Burnt Peak, El Padre Mt. and La Madre Mt.
  3. To the South: The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline

Spectacular Views on the Ascent, Descent and at the Summit!

On the ascent there are unique ever-expanding views of the entire length of Lovell Canyon from Potosi Mountain to the South to The Mt. Charleston Wilderness to the North. In addition, there are unique unfolding views of The Wilson Ridge all the way to its summit at Harris Mountain, Sexton Ridge all the way to its summit at Griffith Peak and the ridgeline descending toward The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline.

All of the above are visible from The Wilson Ridge South High Point in addition to Charleston Peak, Mummy Mountain, Angel Peak, La Madre Mountain, El Padre Mountain, Burnt Peak, El Bastardo, The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline, Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain, Mt. Wilson, The Sheep Range and Gass Peak to the North, The Las Vegas Valley, Frenchman Mountain and The Muddy Mountains to the East. The complete list of visible landmarks is too long to catalogue here!

Best Time of Year to Visit The Wilson Ridge South High Point

The best time of year to visit The Wilson Ridge South High Point is from mid-Spring after the snow has melted through June until the Las Vegas temperature rises above 100 degrees. Then early to mid-fall from when the Las Vegas temperature dips below 100 degrees to the arrival of Winter snow.

Trailhead Directions | Wilson Ridge South High Point | 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.

Views Along Lovell Canyon Road

Lovell Canyon Road is a beautiful stretch passing through a Joshua tree forest that soon becomes populated predominately with junipers and pines. There are ridges and meadows and many camping pull-outs along the way. This stretch reminds me a lot of the high desert area around Bend Oregon. Very open and majestic. All the while you’re looking up at the Spring mountains with Griffith Peak standing prominent. The road has very little traffic and would make a great bike, walking or running route. In fact, what an awesome backdrop for a marathon (pretty easy to add 2 miles to the 24-mile out and back stretch)!

End of Lovell Canyon Paved Road

Proceed 12 miles up the well-paved road until the pavement ends. Park at the parking area there.

Trail Observations | Wilson Ridge South High Point | Lovell Canyon, Nevada

Getting Onto the Approach Ridge

From the parking area at the upper end of Lovell Canyon Road, cross that road (East side) to find 2 large rectangular reddish boulders. These boulders mark the base of the nice gradual ridge you’re going to ascend all the way to The Wilson Ridge South High Point. Starting at the boulders you’ll begin winding your way up the ridge above. There will be a very faint pathway at times up the initial 50 yards of the ridge. Once you get through the lower brush and trees and have risen to a point where you begin to see the Torino Ranch below, it’s just a matter of staying on the center of the ridge as it winds upward all the way to The Wilson Ridge South High Point.

Two Overall Strategic Considerations

Be Prepared for Some Thick, Sharp Brush: The first overall strategic consideration is that during the initial 25% of your ascent on this approach ridge you will encounter some thick, sharp, cutting brush. I advise wearing long pants during this initial 25% of your ascent. I was in running shorts and can only describe my experience here as “death by a thousand cuts”. The sage in particular is sharp! But the good news is that when you rise above the initial brush, the ridge opens up and the remaining 75% of your ascent is through relatively wide-open spaces on the ridge where you can easily weave around brushy areas.

Stay on the South Approach Ridge: The second overall consideration is that you avoid the temptation to cross the canyon below in order to ascend the North approach ridge. Don’t do it! I tried that, only to discover that most of the route through the canyon and up the North ridge, nearly all the way to The Wilson Ridge South High Point summit, is choked by very thick Manzanita brush barriers. It’s brutal and relentless at nearly every point!

Expansive Views Opening Up Along the Ascent Ridge

Back to the South Ridge you’ve wisely chosen as your ascent ridge. It does make a bit of a wide crescent toward The Wilson Ridge South High Point, but freedom from brush barriers makes for a much more rapid ascent. This leaves you free to enjoy the expansive views opening up in all directions. These views are described above along with links to adventures in the surrounding wilderness you are now seeing. One distinctive stretch of wilderness I did not mention above is The Sexton Ridge ascending to Griffith Peak. There are two main ridges bordering Lovell Canyon: Sexton Ridge on the West side of the canyon and the ridge you are now approaching: Wilson Ridge on the East side. The Wilson Ridge ascends to Harris Mountain.

Potential Legendary Lovell Canyon Circuit Adventure

A fascinating adventure might involve ascending The Wilson Ridge on the East side of Lovell Canyon to Harris Mountain, taking the Harris/Griffith saddle on the upper end of Lovell Canyon to Griffith Peak, then descending Sexton Ridge on the West side of Lovell Canyon back to The Lovell Canyon Trailhead and your start/end point at the upper end of Lovell Canyon Road. This is either a legendary ultra-marathon close to the longest day of the year or a 2-day adventure. Either way, you’ll experience Lovell Canyon in an expansive, immersive way along with expansive views of The Mt. Charleston Wilderness and a good portion of many of the major wilderness areas in Southern Nevada along with points in distant Arizona and California!

So, as you ascend to The Wilson Ridge South High Point, look to the surrounding ridges for future adventures!

Views of the Rainbow Mountains and Their Upper Crest Ridgeline

Another thing to notice is the upper wilderness ridges heading South from The Wilson Ridge South High Point. The Wilson Ridge continues South from the high point to eventually reach a connection with The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline that will take you all the way to Highway 160 and Potosi Mountain. As you ascend the approach ridge you are on, you’ll eventually see Bridge Mountain, Rainbow Mountain and Mt. Wilson poking up over the ridge on the horizon. That ridge in front of those mountains is The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline.

The Wilson Ridge is actually a separate ridge. If you continued South on the Wilson Ridge below The Wilson Ridge South High Point, you would eventually cross Rocky Gap Road, then ascend to The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline beyond that crossing. Or you could make a separate circuit heading down Rocky Gap Road to Lovell Canyon Road, then finally returning to your start/end point at the upper end of Lovell Canyon Road. This would give you a complete experience of the lower (Southern) portion of The Wilson Ridge.

Arrival on The Wilson Ridge South High Point Summit

When you reach The Wilson Ridge South High Point Summit, additional views open up (noted above). In particular, study the three main ridgelines now opening up before you:

  1. To the North: The Wilson Ridge Ascending to Harris Mountain
  2. To the East: The La Madre Mountains Ridgeline to El Bastardo, Burnt Peak, El Padre Mt. and La Madre Mt.
  3. To the South: The Wilson Ridge descending toward The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline.

 

Each of the above are entire adventures in themselves, and you can see the complete ridgeline routes from The Wilson Ridge South High Point upon which you are now standing!

Today, you may just want to enjoy the spectacular view before descending back to your start/end point at the upper end of Lovell Canyon Road. Again, avoid the pain and suffering you will experience if you decide to descend by way of the Northern approach ridge, nearly completely populated with a thick brush barrier.

Partial Ridgeline Exploration

Another option, if you have additional time, energy, water and food, would be to begin ascending The Wilson Ridge toward Harris Mountain, then at some mid-point, descend into Lovell Canyon and return to your start/end point by way of The Lovell Canyon Trail.

It helps to learn the wilderness to such an extent that wherever you explore you are always aware of multiple alternate early escape routes back to your start point.

At any rate, once on The Wilson Ridge South High Point, congratulate yourself in having achieved a remarkable, little-known wilderness summit as high in elevation (8,500ft) as La Madre Mountain!

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Wilson Ridge South High Point | Lovell Canyon, Nevada
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Wilson Ridge South High Point | Lovell Canyon, Nevada
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The Wilson Ridge South High Point is a key nodal point for exploration to the North to Harris Mountain; to the West to The La Madre Mountains; and to the South to The Rainbow Mountains Upper Crest Ridgeline.
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LasVegasAreaTrails.com
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