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Mountain Bike Action article featuring Las Vegas

Southern Nevada's Singletrack Bonanza

Mountain Bike Action, December 2000, pp. 40-44

Thousands of bikers travel to Las Vegas every year. Many go for the annual Interbike Show, the premier bike show in the industry. A lot more simply pass through on their way to somehwhere else, maybe Moab, Utah, or some other storied riding spot in the western United States.As it happens, though, just outside of Las Vegas is some of the best winter riding in the U.S. While the Northwest is getting socked with winter storms, the Rockies are being buried under a blanket of snow, and the rest of the country is shivering in the cold, Southern Nevada is often basking in balmy 80-degree temperatures, brilliant blue skies, and bright sunshine. And though most mountain bikers don't realize it, there are good trails to be found within 25 minutes of the Las Vegas Strip....

While the trails in Boulder City are best suited to expert riders, the ones in Red Rock Canyon are good for all levels of ability. Mountain biker Brian Swanson, who moved from Southern California to Las Vegas six years ago, says of Red Rock Canyon, To me it was one of the most incredible trails I’ve ever been on. There are wild horses running alongside of you.In fact, that is one of the most appealing features of Red Rock Canyon. According to Heather Fisher, who,with her husband, owns the bike shop and touring company known as Escape the City Streets, the horses were left by the first explorers of the canyon many years ago. Today there is a good-sized herd of wild horses still roaming free in the canyon. Usually they stay in small groups of five of six, and they often run alongside the mountain bikers riding through the canyon. The horses, though wild, aren’t terribly afraid of bikers, and they normally stay just out of reach of the riders, maybe 30 feet away, as they accompany them on the trails.

According to local legend, the wild horses, in roaming through the valley for the last hundred years or so, actually created the very paths that the mountain bikers ride on. Visitors to Las Vegas can call Escape the City Streets at their shop in Las Vegas, (702) 838-6966, and book a half-day guided tour of the trails in Red Rock Canyon. The $65 price includes round-trip transportation from the Strip, a bike with front suspension (full-suspension is $10 more), a helmet, gloves and a ride guide who will carry tools, fix flats and repair any mechanical problems.There is lots and lots of singletrack there, says Heather. Most of it is on hardpacked dirt, probably 70 per cent of it. There are also short sections of rocky,technical washes that you ride. It’s fast riding, with banked turns, gradual ascents and descents. There are not a lot of trees, though. There are a few Joshua trees, cactus, and desert plants.

Mountain bikers looking for a place to ride on hot afternoons in Southern Nevada can take the 40-mile drive north of the city to the top of Mt. Charleston. A ski resort sits atop the 10,000 foot mountain, and the upper slopes are crowded with pine trees. Visiting mountain bikers will enjoy the Bristlecone Loop Trail on the upper slopes of the mountain. It’s short, about six miles long, but it’s got some real fun technical sections on it, says Heather. It’s cooler, and it’s fun to ride in the summer.

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