Trail Report: Trail Canyon to North Loop Trail

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Trail Details

  • Time on Trail: 6 hrs
  • City / State: Mt Charleston Wilderness, Spring Mountains /
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation: +/- 2500ft.
  • Categories:   ,


Great hike up Trail Canyon to North Loop Trail and past Cave Spring to an overlook at 11,300 ft of Charleston Peak. This is a great day hike with several backpacking and overnight options. The views will certainly not disappoint. But be prepared for the vertical climb. The trailhead sits at 7800 feet and immediately starts the push uphill.

Trail Description

The initial section of this hike offers great views of the valley behind you. As you climb from the trailhead on the two mile section to the North Loop Trial, you will pass stands of aspen and lots of pine with open views of the valley behind you. Stop every so often to take those scenes in. It’s worth it.

The intersection with the North Loop Trail offers a few different options. Head left up into the area of dead trees and continue .5 miles to Cave Spring. The spring is above you on the right if you are standing at the water basin below that it feeds. There are a few cool caves along the slope as well. It’s definitely worth a little exploration, but be aware of your steps.

After a break at Cave Spring, continue on the trail above the large stand of aspen and cliff line. Great views from here and lots of photo opportunities. You will cross a scree slope as you approach the west side of the aspen. Be careful in this section. A slip could result in serious injury.

About two miles past Cave Spring you will reach another incline. The result of making this final push is a perfect view of Charleston Peak. There are a few camping spots here and it makes for a perfect overnight if you want to summit Charleston Peak the next day. If not, take it all in and retrace your steps to complete the 10 mile out-and-back as we did.

Trail Photos

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Trail Notes

The hike was ten miles out and back and included some rain and a bit of altitude sickness for me. Not a fun part of the trip. The upside was hitting the burn area and beyond with the aspen in full fall colors. Very cool sight. This would be the perfect first leg of a two day trip to tackle Charleston Peak. A bonus on this trip would be to break away right and bag the summit of Mummy Mountain along the way.

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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.