We had ventured up the Harris Spring 4×4 Trail in the Winter, but the unexpected thick snow fall prevented us from reaching the end of the road which winds its way up to 8,500′ at the Griffith Peak Trailhead. This time, in the blazing heat of the Vegas summer, we were determined to reach the end of the Harris Spring Road… and this time we brought along out camping gear too!
The trail begins at a surprisingly well marked green highway sign on Kyle Canyon Road labeled “Harris Spring Road” – ok, so far so good… Although not supremely challenging as a 4×4 trail, I traveled slowly because the road was comprised of many sharp rocks and the terrain was uneven enough that speed about 10 mph would probably jar the fillings loose from your teeth.
The first part of the trail is fairly boring – almost just a rocky dirt road. Then, a few miles into it, there is a right fork in the road (with a sign marked “Griffith Peak, 5 Miles” – we took this right-hand turn and quickly began our ascent up the mountain. Without the snow, the climb was easy, but progress was slow with some areas of uneven trail and some deeper ruts in the dirt. We weren’t in a rush as the summer sun gave us sunlight deep into the evening.
The 5-miles up this road seemed to take forever -although the views were panoramic and the exposure significant (no guard rails here), we were eager to make it to the top and set up our camp site for the evening.
We finally reached the end of the road at a small clearing on the spine of the ridge at an elevation of 8,500′. Behind us was the Las Vegas Valley and in front of us, down the backside of the ridge was the western valley. The views were beautiful and all you could see in the distance was green tree-lined hills rolling all the way deep into the valley beneath us. At the corner of this clearing was the trailhead of the Griffith Peak hike. If you were motivated and properly equipped, beyond Griffith Peak is the trail to the summit of Mt. Charleston itself. Today, we were not hiking, but were here to set up our camp and spend the night high in the mountains – and hopefully find some respite from the 104-degree temperatures in the Vegas Valley.
We wandered to the left into a flat clearing surrounded by trees. There were already several fire pits complete with stones forming a ring around them here – a popular camp site from the looks of it. There was a rough trail that weaved further into the trees and slightly uphill to a vantage point where we had a great view of the valley beneath us. We chose to pitch our tents at the edge of the trees – in hopes of getting some minor protection from the winds and also giving us that “cozy under the trees” feeling as we camped. The temperature was a mild 72-degrees up here and we looked forward to the crisp night air and snuggling into our sleeping bags shortly.
We camped with three kids ages 6, 4, and 1 – this campsite was perfect for the young children who enjoyed to explore the area, but was relatively safe for them with no vehicle traffic and relatively flat terrain.
It turned out to be a great camp site, with relatively soft, level ground and plenty of room to set up our camp kitchen and pitch two tents. Once the summer sun finally set, we had a great view of the night sky and all its stars. I gauged the night temperature to be in the low 50s – with a nice and comfortable mountain breeze.
The next morning we explored the Griffith Peak trail and some of the other tributary trails here. We encountered a bunch of dirt-bikers and ATVers this morning. All in all, it was a great camping trip and we looked forward to coming back again.
- Harris Spring Road – 4×4 Trail The Harris Spring Road is an unpaved dirt road that branches off of the Kyle Canyon Road (Route-157) offering a scenic drive uphill. Eventually, this dirt road leads you to...