A partly off-track hike and scramble to Mummy Mountain (3,515m / 11,533 ft), the second highest mountain in the Spring Mountains. Sweeping views from the summit.
Mummy Mountain is the second highest peak of the Spring Mountains in Nevada, taking its name from the resemblance when viewed from the east to an Egyptian mummy (personally, I can’t really see this). Multiple documented (but unposted) hikes take you he various points of the elongated mountain: the highest point is actually the “tummy”.
I’m up and on the trail early, as I have a late afternoon flight to catch. As I’m staying locally at the Mt Charleston Cabins, it’s only a few minutes drive back down the road to the Trail Canyon trailhead. The sun has just started to rise, reflecting off the top of Mummy Mountain in the distance as I set of, up the Trail Canyon track.
Although the well-marked trail immediately starts climbing, it’s at a fairly consistent gradient and is never steep, so it’s easy walking (this is the same route as the North Loop to Charleston Peak).
After exactly an hour’s walking and 3.4km (2 miles), the Trail Canyon track meets the North Loop Trail. Directly ahead is the southern end of the Mummy Mountain ridge. I continue along the North Loop Trail toward Mount Charleston.
The track heads north-west and continues to ascend through a section of pine forest that was burnt over 15 years ago.
About a kilometre (0.6 miles) past the junction is Caves Spring. A rough path leads up from the main trail to a large overhang and cave, which would make a great camping spot. A trickle of water dribbles down the cliff nearby.
Although the spring should provide water year-round, a watering trough carved from an old log is bone dry.
The trail has now gained a fair bit of altitude, and there are some nice views to the south east.
The trail veers to the south and then makes a sharp turn back toward Mummy Mountain as it traverses the top of a scree slope. There are great views along this section of trail down to Kyle Canyon and toward Red Rock Canyon.
Care is needed not to continue too far along the North Loop Trail; after the second switch-back across the scree slope, you leave the trail and head directly up the scree slope. It helps if you have a GPS-enabled map so you set a waypoint. Or look out for an arrow carved into the trunk of a pine tree, on the main trail.
This is section is hard work. You might find it easier to scramble up the large (natural) drainage channel that goes straight up the middle of the steep slope. Or you may not! Hiking poles may help. The main thing you need is persistence as you take two steps forward, and then slide one step back… Eventually you’ll reach the top of the scree slope, where you veer right (east) onto an obvious ridge. There are some nice views from here, and there’s some nice spots for a break. If you’ve made it up the scree slope, the rest of the hike is going to be easy.
As you continue ascending up the ridge in an easterly direction, there’s the occasional cairn but no track. You can’t really go wrong though, as the ridge is fairly narrow and drops off steeply on both sides. There’s nice views out to the south.
The trail swings to the left (north) as it nears the base of Mummy Mountain, which is now directly ahead. Looking at the cliff line, I’m expecting a fairly steep and potentially exposed scramble up to the top….
…which is, fortunately, not the case. I’d seen the chute up through the cliffs described as Class 2, Class 3 and even Class 4. The trail follows the bottom of the cliffs for a while, before heading up an obvious break in the cliffs. Filled with loose rock, the chute is an easy scramble, with no exposure. It actually looks far more intimidating from the top, where it looks like a vertical drop in the cliffs. Directly opposite the chute is Charleston Peak, the highest mountain in the Spring Mountains.
Once you reach the top of the chute, you’re basically at the top of Mummy Mountain. It’s a huge summit plateau, where you could easily camp overnight (unlike the exposed and windy summit of Charleston Peak).
It’s not really obvious where the highest point is, but it’s marked by an ammo can with a logbook. To the north is the Mummy Mountain North Summit, which is about the same altitude. Not to be confused with Mummy Mountain North Peak, which is even further to the north and is 149m lower at 3,366m (11,044 ft) above sea level.
To the south-west is Charleston Peak; in the foreground is one of the many bristlecone pines that are scattered across the summit. These trees can be up to 5,000 years old, although in the Spring Mountains the oldest ones are around 3,000 years.
To the north-east is Angel Peak (below), with the United States Air Force General Surveillance Radar station visible on top. Behind it is the Sheep Range of Clark County, and in the top-right hand corner is the northern part of Las Vegas city.
After a short break on the summit, I head back down the same way. On the way back there’s a good view of Cockscomb Peak, which could be included by taking an off-track detour along the ridge to the summit.
I’m back at the bottom at 1pm, having taken about five and a half hours for the return trip – the return leg being much quicker than the ascent!
0.0km Trail Canyon trailhead (Kyle Canyon Road) 3.4km Junction with North Loop Trail 4.4km Caves Spring 5.9km Leave North Loop Trail - head up scree slope 7.4km Mummy Mountain summit 14.4km Return to Trail Canyon trailhead
|Location||Start / finish at Trail Canyon trailhead near the end of Kyle Canyon Road (Route 157)|
|Distance||14.4km return. 5-8 hours.|
|Grade||Hard. Total ascent is 1,200m.|
|Map/s||Interactive topographical map [AllTrails]
Interactive topographical map [CalTopo]
Download topographical map (A4, 1:25K) [PDF]
Spring Mountains map showing location of all hikes
|GPS Route||PlotaRoute map with option to download GPX / KML file|