When I first returned to running as a hobby after moving to the Las Vegas area, I joined a group organized to train for the Las Vegas Marathon. This group does its runs on Sunday mornings up and down a trail along what I learned was called “Pittman Wash.” Pittman Wash is also known by the name Arroyo Grande, Spanish for “Great Wash.”
After spending many hours running along the trail, I got curious about Pittman Wash and what was obviously an organized effort to improve and protect it. In fact, in the first six months I was running, the trail itself grew by a mile and a half. Somebody was putting a lot of effort into this recreational resource, but I didn’t know who it was. I started to do some research, and now I can tell the tale.
Pittman Wash is a large natural watercourse, in many places wider than the Las Vegas Wash, that carries water from the Mount Petosi area of the Southwest Valley, although it is usually dry except for some lawn-watering runoff. More than a hundred yards wide, it was sought by land developers who wanted to fill it in, create a narrower flood control channel, and build houses on the rest of the land. People living near the wash did not want to lose this bit of natural beauty in their backyard, so a grassroots effort was launched to preserve the wash for the future.
The vehicle used to protect the wash was the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA), which allows the Bureau of Land Management to sell land around the valley and direct the proceeds to local use. One of those uses is conservation and preservation, which is how the City of Henderson was able to use SNPLMA money to acquire Pittman Wash and begin the restoration and beautification project now known as Project GREEN (Project Green Valley Ecology, Environment and Nature). The five-year project involves habitat restoration, conservation of riverbanks and vegetation, and trail building. The final phase, restoring habitat near the Union Pacific railroad tracks, is scheduled to wind up in the fall.
For runners, the centerpiece of Project GREEN is the paved and lighted trail, which runs along Pittman Wash from Arroyo Grande Park to Pebble Road, a distance of a bit over four miles. Members of my running club are hardly the only people using it. Dog walkers, joggers, bicyclists, people just out for a walk, nature lovers and others crowd the trail whenever the weather is good. Luckily for us, the weather is usually good in Las Vegas, with only the summer heat putting any real dent in the numbers of people enjoying the recreational opportunities along the wash.
Another trail winds through the vegetation at the bottom of the wash just upstream from Arroyo Grande Street. Built by a Boy Scout as a project to complete the requirements for the rank of Eagle Scout, it is called the Eagle Scout Trail. Some of the wildlife seen here includes coyotes, foxes, rabbits and ground squirrels, small lizards and a great many birds, as well as a variety of native plants. Natural beauty like this is what makes the valley of Las Vegas such a beautiful and livable place.
Vehicle access to the Pittman Wash trails is easiest from Arroyo Grande Park, the Silver Springs Recreation Center and Pecos Legacy Park. For more information, check out the City of Henderson Trails page (in the “Easy Trail” tab).