Griffith Peak Summit Hike

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Activity: Hiking, peak bagging

Location: Mt Charleston Wilderness, Spring Mountain NRA

Time on Trail: 5 hrs

Difficulty: Difficult

Distance: 8.25 miles

Elevation: +/- 3800 feet

Trailhead

From Las Vegas, take US 95 North to State Route 157 and go left up the mountain. As you approach the hairpin turn below the Upper Lodge at Mt Charleston stay left and continue up to the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area. There is a fee to enter this area. The trailhead is on your right.

Highlights

This was my first summit hike on Griffith Peak, 11,072 feet, 8.25 miles roundtrip and 3800 vertical feet of elevation gain. Nice weather, cool, but windy near the summit. Took 5 hours to complete the hike and it was my first summit above 11,000 feet. Griffith Peak is the third highest peak in southern Nevada. Well worth the effort, but pace yourself early if you’re not used to the elevation or it will wear you out quickly.

Trail Description

The first two miles of this trip were difficult, I thought. It takes awhile for me to get my rhythm and most of the first two miles is spent gaining elevation. We made frequent stops. This first section reaches the Echo Cliffs and the views are spectacular. I think this section alone is worthwhile for those that don’t want to make the full summit hike. There are great views of the town of Mt Charleston below, the Avalanche Chute, and even Mummy Mountain.

As we gained more elevation, the landscape changed to more of a meadow with less trees and more grasses. This opened up the view and made for better photos too! The push to the saddle seemed a bit easier than the opening section for me. I think I found my second wind and was able to pace myself and my breathing a little better.

Once on the saddle, the weather changed. It was noticeably cooler and the wind was stiff. We layered up and made the left turn for the Griffith Peak summit. The elevation at the saddle is above 10,700 feet and we had already covered about 4 miles.

The push to the summit is steep and well marked, but climbs more than 300 vertical feet. It didn’t take long with the adrenaline pumping and the desire to tackle my first 11,000+ summit. Once on the summit, we signed the book, ate a quick lunch and started the descent. The wind was too much of a pain to stay up there for long.

This hike is one of my favorites and one of the more accessible summits in southern Nevada.
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I hate when trailheads are flat and your first step is uphill! This is one of those hikes. You seem to be gaining all the way. I found the first 2 miles and the last .25 mile to the summit to be the most challenging. My knees are shot from years of playing basketball and I certainly felt it on the descent. It’s worth taking your time coming down. There will be photos that you missed on the way up and the knees will appreciate the rest every so often.

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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.

  • Anonymous

    Great web site! Grand Canyon will be incredible…

  • knmgreen

    Great web site! Grand Canyon will be incredible…

  • Thanks! I agree. Grand Canyon is going to be an epic trip. Running out of time to prepare. 30 miles in under 3 days is a big push but I can’t wait. I will post it with photos and track as soon as I get back.

  • Thanks! I agree. Grand Canyon is going to be an epic trip. Running out of time to prepare. 30 miles in under 3 days is a big push but I can't wait. I will post it with photos and track as soon as I get back.