[The Outdoor Issue]

Hit the trail: Our guide to 10 of the Las Vegas Valley’s best routes

Count on it being 10 degrees cooler than Las Vegas when you’re running the Cottonwood Valley trail.
Photo: Erin Ryan

Sidewalks are overrated. Venture out on these Valley trails and experience Vegas from a different perspective:

Pittman Wash

Where: Green Valley

Length: 4 miles

Good for: Walking, running

Green Valley residents flock to the paved path that runs along Pittman Wash from Pebble to Arroyo Grande to stretch their legs, walk their dogs or clock some mileage. Well-maintained and partially shaded, the trail offers early-morning bunny sightings and a chance to check out the neighbors’ backyards.

Cottonwood Valley

Where: Route 160 toward Pahrump

Length: 140 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running

When the temperature spikes, you can count on it being at least 10 degrees cooler at Cottonwood. Split by the road, the north and south sides offer rugged singletrack meandering through desert scrub framed by gorgeous red rocks. There are gnarly rides and scenic walks, with intersecting loops and lots of postcard-worthy landmarks. Keep an eye out for the infamous Blue Diamond donkeys.

McCullough Hills Trail in Henderson—eight miles of lovely, leg-burning desert.

McCullough Hills

Where: Henderson

Length: 8 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running

This dusty route connects Mission Drive to Anthem, slicing through beautiful desert and climbing a few wicked hills in the process. Tackle the full 8 miles, and you’ll be treated to great views, singletrack offshoots and 1,200 feet of elevation gain. Try the unmarked path 3.5 miles from the trailhead, which leads to a vantage point for taking in the scenery and resting your legs.

Wetlands Park

Where: East side

Size: 210 acres

Good for: Walking, running

Miles of paved and unpaved trails beckon within the boundaries of the Wetlands Park Nature Preserve near Boulder Highway, where your soundtrack can be birdsong or the wind in the reeds. Hit the Nature Center before you start exploring this urban escape, where you’ll truly feel like you’ve left Las Vegas.

Las Vegas Wash Trail

Where: North Las Vegas

Length: 35 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running, rollerskating, skateboarding

With only a few spots where you have to cross streets—and a pedestrian bridge over the 15 all but ready to rock—the Upper Wash Trail and Lower Wash Trail make it possible to cut through the Valley from North Las Vegas all the way to the Wetlands Park. The path is wide and paved with amenities for a variety of users, from joggers to skateboarders, and there are sections with some nice mountain views and desert landscaping.

Historic Railroad Trail

Where: Lake Mead

Length: 3.7 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running

If you’ve ever craved shade on a hard run this is your trail, with cool, quiet (and historically significant!) tunnels left over from the construction of Hoover Dam. The 300-foot-long chutes are refreshing breaks from the heat and were once in a Clint Eastwood movie. It’s a level, out-and-back experience, so you can pick your distance.

Bootleg Canyon

Where: Boulder City

Length: 36 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running

The International Mountain Bicycling Association calls Bootleg a man-made wonder, but its unforgiving terrain is not for the faint of heart. Still, the picturesque hills, diverse trails (with some of the sickest downhill in the U.S.) and weekday solitude are hard to pass up. There’s even a shuttle to the top.

The River Mountains Loop Trail winds for 35 miles around Henderson and Boulder City.

The River Mountains Loop Trail winds for 35 miles around Henderson and Boulder City.

River Mountains Loop Trail

Where: Henderson & Boulder City

Length: 35 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running, horseback riding

Lake Mead. Bighorn sheep. Coyotes. Desert grit. A full trip on this 35-mile paved loop around the River Mountains is an adventure where both the scenery and the challenging terrain are likely to take your breath away. Not ready to attempt the whole route? Consider biting off a chunk near Boulder City, where there are plenty of options for post-workout rewards.

Peccole Ranch Walking Trail

Where: Summerlin

Length: Just under 3 miles

Good for: Walking, running

A winding trip through the westside Peccole Ranch neighborhood, this paved, mostly flat trail feels almost like a trip to the park, thanks to lush landscaping and basic exercise equipment spaced along the route. At just under 3 miles, it’s not the best place to train for a marathon, but it is a lovely place for a morning jog.

Amargosa Trail

Where: Henderson

Length: 6 miles

Good for: Biking, walking, running

Mostly paved, it’s the 2.6 miles of rugged steepness leading into the foothills that makes this trail a favorite. It was designed for mountain bikes, but the dirt also gets pounded by runners and hikers taking in the views. At the summit, you can turn back or continue to Hidden Falls Park for basketball, the dog park or a couple passes on the splash pads after working up a sweat.

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