Rare View of Lake Mead from Trail Empty During the Government Shut Down
On November 17th runners will be invading the strip. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon will be overwhelming sin city. Unfortunately the motto of ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’, has allowed and kept some of the best runs a secret. If you are planning on coming to the strip to run past Paris at night and than visit Caesars Palace, don’t miss out on some great side trips that help you stay in top-notch shape and visit the scenes.
Lake Mead and the Hoover Damn are little boxes to check off the list of to do’s. Instead of being the typical tourist, grab your trail running shoes. Running through the desert environment combined with the blue waters off to your side can be a surreal experience. The semi mountainous trail through the hills of Lake Mead National Recreational area down to the world famous Hoover dam is a must. Once a railroad track, this path once provided a route for supplies to reach the dam. Now it’s a secluded trail that allows for spectacular views and a way from the hustle and bustle of traffic. If you aren’t a runner, no worries, pack for a short day hike and prepare for a side of Vegas that we rarely get to see.
It is roughly 3.7 miles from the trailhead to the Hoover Dam Parking Garage. If you are sure footed like the Bighorn Sheep that roam the sheer walls look around for the wildlife you might see along the way. With a total of six tunnels that you will run through, each roughly 300 feet in length and 25 ft in diameter, you will not be disappointed in your choice of activity. With no vehicular traffic this perfect place to forget or try to remember what happened the night before. Zone out and enjoy, there are no steep grades to conquer, the entire elevation gain is merely 497 feet. Just pay attention to the ledges, there are some considerable drops offs. If the night before is still by your side, and you aren’t sure you can turn around after walking across the dam and do the trek back, take two cars. Strategically park one car in the Hoover Dam parking car garage, and hitchhike with your partner back to the trailhead.
Make sure you pack water. For the more seasoned distance runners, this trail in length can be deceiving with its toll on your body. The desert will suck you dry and evaporate your sweat before you can even realize that you have lost this vitally important substance. If the activities the night before have been the typical Las Vegas experience you are already starting in the negative.
First Glimpse into the Tunnels
The trailhead is located about 45 minutes to an hour southeast of downtown. Drive south on Highway 93, through Boulder City, to Lakeshore Road. Turn Left (North) onto Lakeshore Road and drive until you pass the visitor center to your right. From there take your next right and you will reach the Historic Railroad Access Trailhead. You will not have to pay entrances fees.
Once you run under the electric pulse of the power sub station you will soon come across the top part the parking garage. Cross it all the way to the stairs on the left hand side, and give your quads a little burst of stair work as you work your way down to the dam. Here you can straddle two places at once as you stand with one foot in Arizona and the other in Nevada. Make sure you walk all the way to the far end of the dam, where the over flow gates await on the Arizona side. Though now the water line is far beyond their reaches, the shear massive size of the tunnel leading down makes you speechless and for the rapids enthusiasts, it has you contemplating just how steep the drop is. Looking into the abyss no daylight shines forth and the mysteries on the dark tunnel have your wildest imaginations creating what could be lurking inside. Walk back on the south side of the dam and get a little wind blown while admiring the works of man; both dam, and the newly constructed bypass. There are sporadic water fountains in case you need to restock before the run back. Enjoy the serene peacefulness of desert meeting water as you head back to shower and rejuvenate before the evening festivities once again commence.
I love this trail.