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 the unremarkable Harris Springs. However, if you take the right-hand fork in the road about 1/2 miles before the end, you will end up on the Harris Springs 4×4 Trail (marked as “Forest Road 104″ on 1:24 topo charts).
This wonderful off-road trail winds its way up the side of the mountain offering expansive views of the valley behind you with lots of exposure and views of the hills beside you. Eventually, the road climbs all the way up to Harris Mountain Peak, at the top of the ridge, around 9,200 feet in elevation. At the top of the saddle, you can see down both sides of the ridge – towards the Las Vegas Valley to the East and down to the town of Pahrump to the West.
Hikers like this road because it gives them easy access (and a head start) when hiking the southern approach to the Spring Mountain peaks such as Griffith Peak (10,800′ elevation and about 1.5 miles 1 way from the end of the road), and only 5.5 miles 1 way to the summit of Mt. Charleston (11,500′ elevation). Additionally, Harris Spring Road gives you access to many miles of high-altitude backcountry camping and remote, unimproved car-camping opportunities.
I had heard about this road and wanted to go exploring in the mountains and look for new places to go camping. A recent snow fall also would make this a pretty drive – so we piled into the truck and headed to Mt. Charleston. My Spring Mountains topo map unfortunately did not cover Harris Spring Road in its entirety (it mainly concentrated on Kyle and Lowell Canyons) so I elected to download topo maps to my Android Phone using the BackCountry Navigator app. Later, I would be happy I did as I was able to follow along the moving-map topo display when my phone was mounted on my dashboard and I could see my progress as I climbed the mountain.
There are two ways to enter Harris Spring Road from Route-157 — the first is an unmarked dirt road that would be completely missed unless you are navigating by GPS or topo map. We recommend entering via the second entrance which is marked by a large green sign labeled an obvious “Harris Spring Road” from Route-157. The road initially winds steeply to the south, then curves its way up the first ridge and then continues to snake up to the fork (stay right) continuing to climb as the narrow trail hugs the side of the mountain. The trail is in fairly good condition with some rocks and bumps and a few larger sharp rocks to keep your eyes out for. The drop off is steep to the south, but this also means the views are amazing with a lot of exposure.
Today, the fresh snowfall had accumulated above 7,000 feet of elevation, with much deeper snow banks above 8,000 feet. We continued on past several wide points in the road (good places to play in the snow or even camp on the side of the road in warmer months). Eventually, just shy of 9,000 feet, on a steep incline, the snow drift was deep such that the truck began to slide a bit and my concern over the eventual descent back down over the same snow caused me to do a star turn, turning us around and halting our ascent to the summit… for now (we’ll be back after the snow thaws in the Spring).
Overall the trail and views were remarkable and we definitely identified some great places to hike and camp when the snow melts. I am eager to see the view from the summit… next time.
Below is a comprehensive map (with terrain overlay) showing the Harris Spring 4×4 Trail and the subsequent hike to Griffith Peak and eventually to the Mt. Charleston Summit.
View Harris Spring Road (4×4 Trail) in a larger map
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