Life in Paradise: The River Mountains Loop

A View of the River Mountains from the Trail
Photo by Steve Fey

I like to run races, especially endurance contests like marathons. But sometimes I run shorter distances because they’re fun and can be excellent training. Recently I ran a 10K (that’s ten kilometers) race that started and ended from the parking lot of the Railroad Pass Casino in Henderson. It may seem odd that an outdoor activity such as a trail race would be associated with a casino. I know I wondered what was up when I first read about the event. In fact, the parking lot of the Railroad Pass Hotel is a trailhead for a new trail that loops for 32 miles around the mountains just Southwest of Lake Mead. These are the River Mountains, and so the trail is called the River Mountains Loop Trail. The trail is multi-jurisdictional, including the cities of Henderson and Boulder City, plus crossing through the Lake Mead National Recreation area. Not quite all 32 miles are open but full completion is scheduled for later this year.

Information is Displayed along the trail.
Photo by Steve Fey

I train on a Henderson-area trail almost every week, so the trail itself seemed very familiar. Like the other trails I run on, this one is twelve feet wide, with striping and traffic signs where they are appropriate. The trail is open to hikers and bicyclists, and quite a bit of the trail is open to horseback riders as well. Informational kiosks near the trail-heads explain the route, desert survival strategies, and places of interest nearby. At the Railroad Pass trailhead is the sign about the historic Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino, which still holds the oldest active gaming license in the county. The race route climbed the hill, crossed the railroad, and then headed down toward the Henderson town site. That made for an interesting race, as the finish line was the same as the starting line, meaning that the runners got to run back up to the pass. It was a tough climb, but the view was often spectacular.

The Las Vegas Valley from the River Mountain Loop Trail
Now this is a great view of the Las Vegas Valley!
Photo by Steve Fey

The photo, to the right, was taken from the equestrian trailhead in Henderson, at the extreme east end of Equestrian Drive about 5000 meters from the actual pass. There are three places to access the trail in Henderson: Railroad Pass, Equestrian Drive, and also Lake Mead Parkway a bit east of Calico Ridge. The Lake Mead access point has no facilities, but there is a lot of gravel next to the road on which you can park, and the trail is only ten meters away. There is also a trailhead on Pacifica in Boulder City, plus several places inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Click here for a trail map and more information.

All I intended to do was to run a quick race, but I ended up learning of a great new recreational facility right on the eastern end of our valley. If you like to hike, bicycle, ride a horse, or even run for fun, you owe it to yourself to check out the River Mountain Loop Trail. You’ll be glad you did!


One response on “Life in Paradise: The River Mountains Loop

  1. Thanks for the great write up on your experince on the River Mtns. loop trail….we have been working on it for 12-yrs and now we’ll finish this year. Trail will be 34.5 miles when complete…connects to hoover dam via historic railroad trail. There is also a nice trail head at bootleg canyon park and Alan Bible Visitor Center and more in the works.
    Please check out the whole trail on a bike sometime….Happy Trails…..John

Comments are closed.