River Mountain Trail

Boulder City, NV

Just behind the park where we are staying in Boulder City is a mountainous area known as Bootleg Canyon.  The area is full of mountain bike and hiking trails.  One of the hiking trails is called the River Mountain Trail.  This trail was originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.  Over the years the trail fell into disrepair, but Boulder City and partners found funding and have restored it.  They now have a paved parking lot at the trailhead and the trail is nicely maintained.

From the trailhead, within a neighborhood area, the trail leads out of town and up a steep, rocky canyon (following a nice trail with switchbacks) to the crest of the ridge at the saddle between Red and Black mountains. From there, maintained trails lead to overlooks on both mountains.

First part of the trail along a drainage area in a neighborhood

Our goal is the saddle between mountains on the right

The CCC did a great job constructing this trail.  A series of long switchbacks make the steep climb at the end of the canyon fairly easy.

At the top of the switchbacks we turned to the west to hike less than a half mile to the top of the Red Mountain which overlooks the town of Boulder City.  The main trail up the canyon is for foot travel only, but this section up the Red Mountain is also designated for mountain biking.  There were no bikers out the day we did the hike but it looked to be a very challenging trail, at least in parts.

Part of the bike trail

Once at the summit we had a great view of the town below us.

A zoom of the area in the above photo shows the RV park, with our motorhome under the arrow.

As we came over the crest of Red Mountain, we came across a platform and a covered bench.  Turns out this is the starting point for a zip line down the mountain.  For $160 you can fly down four separate ziplines that cover just over a mile and a half of the canyon.  Since the ride appeared to be closed for the day, we sat on their bench and enjoyed lunch with a great view of the valley below.  Skydivers landing at the airfield below us provided some entertainment.

Near the zip line we found the platform pictured below.  It looks like a jump off point for a hang glider but we couldn’t find any information about it.

After checking out Red Mountain we headed back down to the saddle area and up the trail to the summit of nearby Black Mountain.

CCC built steps in the trail

The trail up to the Black Mountain summit

Great views of Lake Mead

As we descended back down the trail the sun disappeared behind Red Mountain, giving us different views of the rocks around us.

We were not expecting much from this trail, but the River Mountain Trail turned into a great hike.  At seven and half miles round trip and some good elevation change, it gives your legs a work-out and the views from the peaks are impressive.

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20 Responses to River Mountain Trail

  1. Sure is a Red mountain…cool! Looks like a great hike with great views. THe plant life where you are looks very much like the plant life here in Desert Hot Springs. Not the most lush desert, is it???

  2. Sherry says:

    I didn’t realize the CCC constructed trails outside of the state and national parks. They surely do good work. Your final pictures are really beautiful. The colors are wonderful.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Sherry! Yes, the CCC did a great job here. I think we need to bring them back. I have several areas that a nice path with long switchbacks would have made my life easier:)

  3. Laurel says:

    As Sherry said, I didn’t realize the CCC created trails outside of state/national parks, either. Sure wish we could bring back the CCC! How terrific to have hiking right in your backyard — the views of Lake Mead are beautiful. But $160 for zip lining? That’s an expensive quick trip down the mountain!

  4. There would be no way I would be riding any type of bike on that trail. It would knock what brains I have out of my head.

    Long easy switchbacks are a plus on a long hike like this one. Awesome views.

    I love the color of the rock without the direct sunlight on it. Spectacular color.

    • placestheygo says:

      That was our reaction to this short bike trail section we took, Marsha. It was listed as a double black diamond!!

      These were the nicest switchbacks we have ever used. Sure made the climb pleasant.

      I agree that the rock color is prettier sometime without the direct sunlight. Red Mountain looks so red next to Black Mountain.

  5. Gay says:

    Very impressive indeed! Don’t you just love it when a hike turns out to be great when you didn’t think it would be? I noticed trek poles…do you like them? Joe has some, but I haven’t tried them yet. If we ever get to hike again, I might give them a try.

    The red rocks are beautiful…sometimes pictures turn out a lot better without the sunlight.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, Gay, it is fun when the hike turns out better than expected:)

      We finally bought one pair of poles after we weren’t able to finish Wheeler Peak in Great Basin because there was ice and we didn’t have poles. We really didn’t think we would enjoy them. We both thought they would slow us up. But we have had some really rough trails lately. We each just used one pole for two hikes. Boy, did that one pole make a huge difference! Poles take so much pressure off your legs. We can’t get over how much better we feel after a hike. And I move faster than ever:) We now each have a pair of poles:)

  6. Erin says:

    Not sure I’d want to be going up that trail with mountain bikes on the same path.

  7. Richard Savage says:

    I’ve wondered about getting poles. I use one short hiking pole for balance, but I think you have convinced me to buy a pair of poles. Have you ever thoughtof publishing a book on your favorite hikes? Living in Utah I have loved your western hikes and look forward to trying some of them.

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, Richard, but I think our blog will be our only trail guide for right now:) We love Utah! Our three months in southern Utah in 2013 were some of very favorite which is why we are back west. We’ll be in southern Utah again this spring:)

      We are hiking pole converts! I am using longer poles which I enjoy. I don’t have to bend over when going down a steep grade. It is amazing how much better our legs feel after using the poles. I am sure you will enjoy using two poles. Happy hiking!

  8. Janna Clark says:

    Great hike and beautiful photos! I became a hiking pole convert when we hiked into the Grand Canyon–they do help tremendously!! I need another one, I have lost one of my pair, probably left it laying beside some trail!

  9. Jodee Gravel says:

    Maybe it’s the angle of the shot, but that hole in the rock looks nearly perfect round – very interesting 🙂 Not very creative “mountain-naming”, but at least you know which one is which! I’m sure the trekking pole industry will now see a huge surge in sales – “nimble-hiker” approved is a big deal!! I’m looking forward to getting mine broke in 🙂

    • placestheygo says:

      Jodee, you are too funny! Yes, I am sure the hiking poles are flying off the shelves:)

      I do think that hole in the “donut” was perfectly round. It was really a large structure and very cool.

  10. LuAnn says:

    Another wonderful hike you have taken us on. Are there any left for you two to take in this area? 😉

  11. Talk to us about your packs. We are in the market and there are SO many to choose from. We just want day packs, not too large but large enough to carry what’s needed or desired. What brands do you two have, and what features would you recommend? Do the ones you are using work for you, or would you have purchased something different if and when doing it again?

    Thank you. I know we are going to be heading over into that area sometime this winter. It’s just too close from our hpme here in Apple Valley, Ca. NOT to check it out. This past weekend, we went down to Joshua Tree N.P. just to check things out for future hikes. What an amazing place THAT is.

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