More Difficult, 1.4 miles.
Pack Rat Route is a lightly trafficked 1.4 mile (round trip) loop trail located in the Kyle Canyon area of the SMNRA. This trail is not stroller or wheelchair friendly, there are benches along the route. The trail, parking, and restrooms can be accessed from the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway.
Starting at the small colored tile amphitheater, follow the red gravel trail southward down into Kyle Wash. After 0.1 mile the trail approaches an intersection, head east taking a sharp left following the sign for Pack Rat Route. After safely crossing the wash, the trail approaches a pet waste station at a second intersection. Again, head east making a left turn. The trail becomes paved shortly after this point beginning a steep climb up the first hill. Halfway up the hill there will be a bench and a turnoff, take either direction as both routes will meet up together shortly at the top of the hill. Continue following the paved loop trail enjoying the sagebrush, point-leaf manzanita, cliffrose and pinyon pines. 0.35 miles into the trail there will be a sign on the right for Escarpment Trail, disregard and continue left/east on the Pack Rat loop. The trail will proceed into its second ascent taking hikers towards a limestone escarpment. Enjoy the shade and views of jaeger’s mousetail, small caves, and remnants of pack rat middens. As the trail continues, hikers will find a bench, telescope, and interpretive signage at the highest point on the trail. This educational viewpoint has information on the Silent Heroes of the Cold War Memorial and 1955 plane crash. Past this, the trail begins a steep descent back down into Kyle Wash, passing a second sign for Escarpment trail on the right. Watch your step as loose gravel is prominent in this area. At the bottom of the hill the paved portion of the trail will promptly end. At this point, hikers are to cut down into the wash following it westward/right. After following the wash for 0.2 miles, scramble up a washed-out dirt hill; here the path picks back up with the red gravel trail. Following this path to the right, you will approach the first intersection again, this time turning right and proceeding up the final ascent back to the Spring Mountains Visitor Gateway.
Hiking at higher elevations can be difficult if not acclimated. Know the symptoms of altitude sickness and how to properly prepare. Always check the weather before heading out on the trails. Be prepared to be out of cell-phone range and have a backup plan. Ensure proper clothing and supplies for the trek, be it a day-hike or backpacking trip.
Leave No Trace:
GO Mt Charleston encourages folks to enjoy their public lands, while remaining mindful and following the seven principles of LNT:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare – Check the weather, pack proper equipment and guides, wear adequate clothing, have a back-up plan, research current conditions, closures, and regulations.
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces – Follow the designated trail and avoid cutting switchbacks. Backcountry camp on low-impact terrain. When in doubt stick to designated campgrounds and dispersed campsites.
- Dispose of Waste Properly – Pack it in pack it out! Pack out all garbage, including organic food waste such as citrus peels and pistachio shells. When backpacking, practice digging cat holes to dispose of human waste and carry wastewater 200 feet away from waterways.
- Leave What You Find – Take only pictures, leave only footprints! Leave cultural artifacts and natural objects for others to enjoy.
- Minimize Campfire Impacts – Make sure your campfire is dead out before leaving or sleeping, research local regulations about collecting firewood, and know current fire restrictions. When in doubt use designated fire rings.
- Respect Wildlife – Observe from a safe distance, never feed or approach wildlife, report impaired wildlife to Rangers and never attempt to move or help yourself.
- Respect other Visitors – Be courteous on the trails, control and pick up after your pets, consider whether your experience is affecting the way someone else enjoys the peaceful outdoors.
Learn more by visiting: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/