Trail Report: Cockscomb Ridge

[mp_share_center type='buttons']

Trail Details

  • Time on Trail: 1 hr 45 mins
  • City / State: Mt Charleston Wilderness, Spring Mountains /
  • Distance: 1.96 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: +/- 1493ft.
  • Categories:   , ,


First overnight of the year at Mt Charleston! Trail Canyon is beautiful part of the Mt Charleston Wilderness, but this short hike has teeth. The hike is less than 2 miles up to the Cockscomb Ridge but gains nearly 1500 feet in elevation. There are very few flat spots to rest. The trade off is a series of great views of Griffith Peak and Charleston Peak. There was still plenty of snow on that ridge line.

We left Las Vegas mid afternoon, hit the trail with the dogs around 6:40 pm, and had camp set up just before dark.

Trail Description

The Cockscomb Ridge is accessible via the Trail Canyon Trail. This is a very important ridge as it serves as a major access point for the North Loop Trail, one of the two main trails that lead to Charleston Peak. The Trail Canyon trail is less than 2 miles but gains nearly 1500 vertical feet in that short span. The majority of the trail is steep, but in very good shape.

From the trailhead, proceed past the gate and skirt to the left of the water tank. From that point on, make sure you look back. The views seem to get better with every step. There is a lot of cover, so shade is easy to come by, but don’t expect too many flat areas. This trail is mostly an uphill climb.

Along the ascent, look to your right side to look for the various caves along the way. There are also several climbs on this route. Climbers can be spotted on the left side of the trail making there way up the various formations, most of which are only a few hundred yards from the trail.

As you get closer to the junction with the North Loop Trail, the trees thin out and the views are awesome.

Once you reach the ridge an the junction of the North Loop Trail, you can continue to the left to carry on to Cave Spring, the ascent route for Mummy Mountain, and eventually Charleston Peak. If you go right, you can visit Raintree, the 3000 year old bristlecone pine, Mummy Spring, and the North Loop Trailhead.

Trail Photos

Trail Notes

This was the first backpacking trip of the year at Mt Charleston for three of us. My new trail friend, Kevin, has been up there quite a bit this year, but this was my first time hitting the trail with him. I met Kevin through Billy and Ryan who also made this trip. Good group of guys, and we are all doing the Havasu Falls together this weekend. This overnight to Cockscomb Ridge was a good trail test for all of the new gear that we acquired as a group.

This track is also great for anyone that wants to get on the trail late in the day but still reach a great spot for solitude. The views are awesome, and for the fit hiker/backpacker, you can be at the ridge in a very short time. This is by no means a back country location, but it will make you feel like it is.

One of the cool side stories for this trip was the early morning wake up call courtesy of the Las Vegas Search & Rescue helicopter. It dropped a few guys about 50 yards from our camp at 6:45 am on Saturday morning. It shook the entire camp! They appeared to be working on rappelling and extractions. They made about a half dozen rappels to the ridge line in the 90 minutes it took us to break down camp. There are a few great shots of the helicopter in the slide show below.
[mp_share_center type='cta'] [mp_share_center type='boxes']

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.