Off the Las Vegas Strip; Hiking Mary Jane Falls:
For those who are visiting Las Vegas and looking for an adventure off the Las Vegas strip, hiking Mary Jane Falls is a perfect getaway! Consider this as a vacation from your vacation! Mary Jane Falls Trailhead is located at the base of Mt. Charleston, in Kyle Canyon. It is only a forty five minute drive from the strip. Mary Jane Falls Hike is a 3.1 mile hike and is ranked as moderate difficulty on AllTrails.com.
A world away from the strip just next door:
Getting to the trailhead is quite an adventure in itself! Once you're on your on your way, you'll leave the crowded streets and strip malls of the Las Vegas valley and drive into the sparsely populated mountainous desert. As you exit the highway and start ascending towards the base of Mt. Charleston, you'll notice the change in elevation. You'll also notice the change in vegetation, as agave plants change to Joshua trees, then to pines and finally to sky scraping bristlecone pines! It's quite a transformation!
Mary Jane Falls Trailhead:
When you finally reach the trailhead, you'll be literally surrounded by nothing but pines and mountainous sandstone walls! During your ascent, you'll make your way up a series of switchbacks. As you near the falls, you'll notice water marks on the wall of the mountain, next to two caverns. This is how you'll know your moving down the last switchback. And finally you reach the waterfall in the middle of the desert, known as Mary Jane Falls. Yes, a waterfall in the middle of the desert.!!! Mary Jane Falls is not a significantly large water fall. It's simply runoff from the winter snowfall.
So, how do you get there from the strip? The distance will slightly differ, depending on the location of your hotel on the strip. From the strip, Las Vegas Blvd, get on I15 North towards Salt Lake City. Take the US 95 North ramp and stay on US 95 North for 16 miles, until you see the exit for Kyle Canyon Road (SR 147). Stay on Kyle Canyon road for approximately 16 miles. When you reach a hair pin turn, straight onto Echo Road. The parking lot for Mary Jane Falls Trailhead is about a mile up the road on the left.
So, if you're enjoying yourself or need a little more fresh mountain air, feel free to stay a while. If you're willing to spend the night, you can certainly experience some of the other hikes while you're there. Pitch a tent and kick back in front of a nice bonfire at either Kyle Canyon or Fletcher View campground. You can make reservations at recreation.gov or take your chances, as they are also first come, first serve. If you're not into sleeping in the great outdoors, check into the Mt Charleston Lodge or The Retreat on Mt. Charleston Peak. If you start early enough the next morning, you can make your way to Mt. Charleston Peak. It's a six hour hike, at least. and definitely worthwhile! There are multiple trails, all within a short drive.
An entirely different scene :
Mt. Charleston is typically 20 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas Valley. It's the perfect escape from the exorbitant heat of the Las Vegas strip. During the months of March and April, you will still find snow on and around Mt. Charleston peak. Yes! Snow! Who knew there was snow in the desert! It's quite a stunning view!
Hitting the trails:
Does hiking Mary Jane Falls sounds appealing yet? If you do decide to give it a try, take note that the trail splits off to the right about 3/4 of a mile into the hike. Once you make the turn, you'll continue up a series of switch backs until you reach a straight path to the falls! You'll experience a 990 foot elevation gain as you reach the end of the trail. Also, be careful in areas where the gravel is loose. Just a quick tip. This trail is quite popular, so expect some foot traffic on the weekends, during the summer months. Most of all, have fun, stay safe and live healthy.