I’ve got just enough time before it gets dark to make a quick ascent up to Cathedral Rock – the real walk is tomorrow’s hike up to Mummy Mountain. I set off from the Cathedral Rock Picnic Area in the Spring Mountains with the sun just reaching the top of the surrounding peaks.
The trail ascends in a set of large switch-backs, so it’s a constant climb but never overly steep. Directly ahead are the 1000-foot high Echo Cliffs, which tower above the trail.
About half-way up, the main track goes to the right, and there’s a faint side trail to the left which leads to a seep. Although it’s not yet winter, the water has already frozen, and there’s an icy waterfall and a long river of ice where the water flows down the hill.
The main track now heads to the west, away from Echo Cliffs. There’s a view down Kyle Canyon, back towards where I started the hike.
As the trail swings around to the north, you can see Mummy Mountain directly ahead.
The track reaches a saddle after about 2.2km (1.5 miles), where there are a few side trails (the main trail is pretty obvious, though). The last, short section is a bit steeper and includes some stairs, as the views open up. Directly ahead is Mummy Mountain again, with the last rays of the sun reflecting off its highest cliffs.
The sweeping views from the summit are pretty impressive, especially at sunset.
Directly below is the town of Mount Charleston, with Mummy Mountain in the background, and in front of it the narrow Cockscomb Ridge
We’re now above Echo Cliff, with it’s 1000-foot, vertical rock face even more formidable from this perspective.
To the east, looking toward Las Vegas, is Kyle Canyon and Route 157, with Fletcher Peak to the left.
It gets dark (and cold) very early, so with the sun having set at about 5pm, it’s head-torch on for the descent back to the Cathedral Rocks Picnic Area, and dinner.
0.0km Cathedral Rock Picnic Area (2,345m asl) 1.3km Waterfall 2.2km Saddle 2.6km Cathedral Rock summit (2,620m / 8597 ft asl) 5.2km Cathedral Rock Picnic Area
When to hike Cathedral Rock
The Cathedral Rock trailhead is closed over the winter months, with the hiking season being May to November. Even if you have winter hiking gear, the route traverses a major avalanche path. Due to the elevation, even in the middle of summer it will be warm, but not too hot for this hike. Get there early or start late in the peak summer months (especially on weekends) to avoid the crowds.
Accommodation near Cathedral Rock
While you can reach the Mummy Mountain trailhead from Las Vegas in under an hour, I’ve always stayed at the Mt Charleston Lodge, which has private cabins and an on-site restaurant. It make it easy to get an early start – and feels like a world away from Las Vegas!