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Boulder’s Best: Great hikes to take near Boulder City

Boulder City is an anomaly in Southern Nevada. Only a short drive from a major metropolis, the town that built Hoover Dam is surrounded by a diverse range of terrains and outdoor excursions.

As spring is hitting its stride Lake Mead is about to become inundated with visitors from near and far, but the Boulder City area has more to offer than just the U.S.’s fifth most-visited National Park’s ever-popular water sports.

Boulder City is surrounded by unique and challenging hiking opportunities to get outside and commune with nature, especially during the spring and fall months when the heat is not so unbearable.

Because of dangerously high temperatures, the National Park Service highly discourages hiking in the summer months and even closes trails between May and September. However even in the balmy, dog days of summer several popular hot springs are accessible from the water, via kayaks and canoes that can be rented from the Park Service or authorized vendors.

Here are some of the best hiking trails available in and within a few miles of Boulder City.

Historic Railroad Trail

Perhaps the most famous trail in the region, the railroad tunnel trek leads visitors through the remains of five oversized caverns carved for the railway used to carry materials and equipment for the construction of the Hoover Dam.

The 3.7 miles hike follows the southern edge of Lake Mead, directly below the Lakeview Scenic Overlook, and offers panoramic views of the lake, Boulder Basin and Fortification Hill.

The 300-foot-long tunnels are 25 feet in diameter and were blown open in 1930, but only saw continuous use until the completion of the dam in 1935. The railroad was last used in 1961, with the tracks being removed less than 12 months later, and the path was designated a National Recreation Trail just last year.

The Historic Railroad Trail is an easy hike and can be accessed near the Alan Bible Visitor Center or at its conclusion, in the Hoover Dam parking garage.

For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikerr.htm

Arizona Hot Springs

Also known as Ringbolt Springs, the Arizona Hot Spring’s trail passes through vibrant, volcanic White Rock Canyon, featuring an elevation change of nearly 1,000 feet leading to the most popular spring in the park.

Although visited by thousands of people each year, the 6-mile-long round-trip hike is listed as a strenuous trek, as it requires scrambling over boulders, climbing a 20-foot ladder inside a waterfall and navigating uneasy terrain.

After navigating the wash and following the Colorado River to the canyon, the spring can found a few hundred yards from the waterway, pumping about 30 gallons of highly mineralized water each minute, at temperatures reaching 111 degrees Fahrenheit, into several pools formed between nearly vertical, towering rock walls, separated by only a few feet.

The White Rock Canyon Trail can be accessed 8.4 miles east of the Lake Mead Visitor Center, down U.S. Highway 93.

For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/lake/planyourvisit/hikeazhot.htm/index.htm

Goldstrike Canyon

For those interested in experiencing the rejuvenating waters of a hot spring a little closer to home, Goldstrike Canyon offers the perfect escape, though it is not recommended for the inexperienced or the faint of heart.

Descending approximately 600 feet in about 2 miles, the hike requires navigating house-sized boulders, narrow ravines subject to floods, and perhaps the use of a fixed rope left by magnanimous hikers of yore.

The initial decline to the Goldstrike Hot Spring and the Cave of Wonders should be fine for most hikers, but for the more experienced explorers the route continues on for another 45 minutes of tougher scrambling and plenty more ropes, down to the Nevada Hot Springs and the chilly Colorado River.

The trail head can be accessed by U.S. Highway 93, exit No. 2 to Hoover Dam, 0.3 miles south of the Hoover Dam Lodge.

For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/lake/index.htm

Bootleg Canyon

Located just a stone’s throw down Yucca Street is the opening of Boulder City’s own Bootleg Canyon, home to a trio of hikes fit for adventurers of every skill level.

Developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, the main trail through Bootleg Canyon runs right out of Boulder City, away from housing developments and up toward the Black and Red mountains.

The trail head for the River Mountain Trail can be accessed by keeping left on U.S. Highway 93, near downtown Boulder City, heading east for less than a mile, where a large brown sign signifies a parking lot and the trail’s launch.

The trail leads out of town, up a steep, rocky canyon, climbing almost 3 miles to the apex of the ridge where the Red and Black mountains meet. At this juncture the trail splits, with the path to the left leading up to the Red Mountain overlook and the path to the right ascending to the overlook atop Black Mountain.

Both Red Mountain and Black Mountain can be reached via trail heads of their own, where the River Mountain hiking trail ends at the saddle between the two mountains, near the end of Canyon Road off of Industrial Road, shortly after turning off Yucca Street.

While these two quick hikes offer panoramic views of Lake Mead and surrounding mountains around Southern Nevada and northern Arizona, each trail is less than a mile long on its own, leading many adventurers combine the three trails for a full day of mountaineering.

For more information on hiking in Bootleg Canyon, check out http://www.bootlegcanyonbc.com/

River Mountain Loop Trail

One of Southern Nevada’s most popular trails, and certainly its longest, is the River Mountain Loop Trail, which circumnavigates the River Mountains connecting Boulder City, Henderson, Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam and Las Vegas.

The 34-mile-long trail was built between 2000 and 2012 and has since been designated as a National Recreation Trail.

Most of the path is paved or concrete, perfect for hiking or cycling, and certain segments, adding up to nearly 15 miles, feature a second trail for equestrian use.

The loop trail offers multiple access points in and around Boulder City, including Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park off of Yucca Street, the Nevada State Veterans Home and inside Lake Mead National Recreation Area, near the visitor center and as well as Boulder Beach.

For more information, visit http://www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails/trailNRT/River-Mountains-Loop-NV.html

Contact reporter Hunter Terry at hterry@bouldercityreview.com or call 702-586-6711. Follow him on Twitter @HunterBCReview.

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