When you’re new to backpacking, you want to try out some beautiful trails to get your feet wet. Here’s a selection of easy to moderate scenic treks from all across Nevada to satisfy your taste for adventure.
1. Arizona Hot Springs is a very popular hike in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The natural hot springs are reached via a ladder. The springs can reach temperatures of 111 degrees. The National Park Service cautions you to not put your head under the water if you choose to take a dip as the water is home to an amoeba that can cause medical complications and even death if it gets into your nasal cavity.
To reach the springs, you will pass by the Colorado River.
The springs are accessed via the White Rock Canyon Parking Lot in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Take US 93 over the Hoover Dam for about 4 miles to find the lot.
2. The Baker and Johnson Lakes Trail is found in the Great Basin National Park.
This hike is a good option for new backpackers with a total length of 11.4 miles.
Backpackers will pass through canyons, dense aspen forests and alpine lakes.
The trail begins at Baker Creek Road. The park is in Eastern Nevada, just east of the town of Baker.
3. Cathedral Rock is a towering presence in the Humboldt-Toyiabe National Forest.
The hike is 3 miles out and back. The elevation gains makes this short hike more intense.
Backpackers can enjoy a day hiking to Cathedral Rock and back.
There are lots of trails in this area that you can use for hiking or camping for the night. The Cathedral Rock trail can be found by taking US95 north from Las Vegas 14 miles to SR157. Take SR157 (left) and turn right into the Cathedral Rock Picnic area parking lot and look for the trailhead sign. There is a parking fee, although you can park along SR157 about a half-mile down for free.
4. Diamond Peak via Tahoe Meadows is a 16.4-mile trek.
This trail is known for some lovely wildflower blooms in the spring.
Backpackers can take the trail by days in sections while enjoying the views of Lake Tahoe.
Just be sure to be aware that mountain bikers are allowed on the trail on even-numbered days, and can be plentiful depending on the time of year and the weather. The Tahoe Meadows trailhead parking lot is 7 miles from Incline Village on NV431 (Mount Rose Highway).
5. Fletcher Canyon is a much-loved hike in the Spring Mountains.
The trail is known for its slot canyon and a narrows at the end.
The trail is 3.2 miles and has a cooling wash to pass along the way.
Drive north on US95 from Las Vegas to NV157 and drive another 17 miles to the parking lot for the trailhead.
6. The Marlette Lake Trail via Spooner Lake is a 10.3-mile trail in the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park.
The scenery includes forests and views of the lakes. Like other trails in the area, there are a lot of mountain bikers so backpackers should be prepared to share the trail when necessary.
To reach the trail, park at Spooner Lake, which has a day use fee.
Parking is also available along the the road at the Route 28/Highway 50 junction.
7. The Ruby Mountains are located in Elko County and most of the range is within the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
The 60-mile mountain range is home to the gorgeous 34-mile Ruby Crest Trail for hikers and backpackers.
The range is home to an incredible amount of native wildlife. A backpacker is sure to enjoy seeing bighorn sheep, mountain goats, mule deer, wild turkey and many other species.
Backpacker magazine recommends splitting this trek into four parts: Start at Lamoille Canyon and camp on North Furlong Lake. Your next camping spots, in order, will be North Furlong Lake, Overland Lake and the junction of the trail and Smith Creek's south fork. To reach the Lamoille Canyon trailhead, driving from Elko, take Hwy227 going southeast (Spring Creek) and follow the signs for the Lamoille Canyon lot.
8. Gass Peak is part of the Desert National Wildlife Range, an area just north of Las Vegas.
The range is the second largest wildlife refuge in the U.S.
This backpacking trek promises incredible views of the Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas.
If you enjoy star gazing, you'll find lying back and watching the stars from your camp in the range an unforgettable experience. To reach the Gass Peak trail, drive north on US95 from Las Vegas and turn right onto a dirt road going toward Corn Creek (near mile marker 101). Look for the marked Gass Peak road. Caution - a high clearance vehicle is necessary to drive down this road!
Have you backpacked any of these trails? Or have a recommendation for a newbie backpacker in Nevada? Share in the comments!