The High Rollin “River Mountains Loop Trail” Near Las Vegas

I’ve ridden this trail before.  However, I’ve only just ridden a portion of the loop.  This is a shared use trail.  The last time I rode it was around Presidents day 2013 and I discovered it purely by accident.  Back in Feb I made up my own route around the city of Henderson, NV and ended up on a portion of it.  I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it wound its way around (all the way around) the River Mountains.  At that time I picked it up on the Southeast corner of Henderson, followed it to Lake Mead Pkwy (almost to the Three Kids Mine) then returned to my point of origin along Lake Mead Pkwy. I have a fond memory here of stopping on the trail to take a picture and being yelled at to GET OFF THE TRAIL TO TAKE YOUR DAMN PICTURE!  “Damn” added for dramatic effect.  The other cyclists sort of snuck up on me.  I thought I was the only one out there.   Since that time, the trail has been on my list to return to and complete.  Even the portion that I did ride was super fun and I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

I was on a return trip to AZ for the weekend by way of Las Vegas and so I opted to make it a point to stop and ride the entire loop.  I arrived at noon and parked near the trail at Railroad Pass Casino.

Trailhead mile 0 at the Railroad Pass Casino

Trailhead mile 0 at the Railroad Pass Casino

This is a good place to start because mile marker zero begins here.  The trail markers count up milage in a clockwise direction.  You have the option of going either direction and is paved the entire route of 35 miles.

At the casino trailhead.  Mile marker zero.

At the casino trailhead. Mile marker zero.

Like I said, this is designated a shared trail so you will likely encounter walkers, runners, inline skaters, boarders, and even a horse or two (designated horse portion on the Northeasterly side).  You will most certainly encounter horse excrement on the portion that horses are allowed but this can be easily avoided if you keep your eye out for it.  Starting where I did at the casino, the trail follows a decent of rolling hills and a few short, sharp 15 degree climbs.  Mostly though, the trail descends gradually all the way to Lake Mead Marina.

Perhaps the most isolated portion, this drops into Lake Mead recreation area.

Perhaps the most isolated portion, this drops into Lake Mead recreation area.

Vista of Lake Mead

Vista of Lake Mead

Don’t expect to coast all the way down.  There are climbs.  Be prepared to have the legs for it!  The real climb begins after Lake Mead Marina.  A gradual 7 mile climb paralleling the road to the marina then following the old railroad grade from the Alan Bible visitor center until you meet up again with State route 93.  Here you bike up a drainage that doubles as the trail.

When riding parallel to route 93 you ride in this storm water drainage canal.

When riding parallel to route 93 you ride in this storm water drainage canal.

One of the many tunnels you ride through on the Boulder city side

One of the many tunnels you ride through on the Boulder city side

Shared use again, with storm water!  I’m sure steps would be taken to close this portion should such a storm threaten its use.  Once you get well into Boulder City the trail levels out (PRAISE JESUS!) and makes the final push back to the casino.  Here the trail also passes at the base of Bootleg Canyon Park.  There are many MTB trails here as well as those for hiking and even zip lines (if you want to use these you’ll need to contact the local outfitter for a guide).  I still think it’s strange to find zip lines where there are no trees.  Anyhow, I see that I’ll have to return again to bike the trails in Bootleg.  Looks like mighty fun to be had.

My mileage on the trail came to about 35 miles.  The information around the trail tries to convince you it’s 31 (However, when that trail info was posted it was perhaps that milage.  It’s finished know and is clearly longer).  Climbing totaled around 2500 feet. This trail is SUPER fun and well worth the ride but the climb out of Lake Mead seems to last forever.  Be sure you have the legs and lungs for it and LOTS of water.  It’s dry here.  IT’S A DESERT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!  Overall, I’d have to say this is one of my favorite loops.  Stunning desert scenery, stark isolation, well planned trails and best of all SUPER FUN.

Here are some additional shots from the ride (Click on picture to open in new tab and enlarge in all it’s glory):

Now on the north side of Lake Mead Pkwy you head up and over towards the Las Vegas wash

Now on the north side of Lake Mead Pkwy you head up and over towards the Las Vegas wash

This is on the North side around the Three Kids Mine.

This is on the North side around the Three Kids Mine.

You guessed it. Lake Mead

You guessed it. Lake Mead

This is on the east side and the sun was in the western hemisphere.  This gave the mountains a very black foreboding look.

This is on the east side and the sun was in the western hemisphere. This gave the mountains a very black foreboding look.

Looking at Lake Mead.  Marina is just to the right.

Looking at Lake Mead. Marina is just to the right.

Wirepass.  Electric supply running from Hoover dam.  This portion is the climb out on the old railroad grade.

Wirepass. Electric supply running from Hoover dam. This portion is the climb out on the old railroad grade.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead Pkwy.  Pointing to the east.

Riding parallel to Lake Mead Pkwy. Pointing to the east.

Heading south now before Lake Mead marina

Heading south now before Lake Mead marina

One of the steepest hills on the trail.  So steep, you can't even see it.

One of the steepest hills on the trail. So steep, you can’t even see it.

Trail info board.  There are more like this but often with  more interesting information like the landscape, history, old cultures that lived there and animal life.

Trail info board. There are more like this but often with more interesting information like the landscape, history, old cultures that lived there and animal life.

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Bouncin’ and rollin’ round the Arizona High-Country

It’s been a while since I posted as I have been doing just as the title of this post describes.  Out of band as they say in tech circles…and perhaps other circles for all I know.  When one is “out of band” or “off the grid” and travelling as I have been, it provides much time to think and ponder. (My brother is a truck driver.  He knows too well what this is like).  I have reflected on much the past two weeks and I have much work ahead to get to where I want to be.  I will admit that I am guilty sometimes of thinking about the past.  It’s sometimes hard to let it go.  It’s getting easier as time progresses but that’s true of many things.  Time heals most if not all things.

So, we move forward.  It’s what we must do.  What I must do.  I’ve reflected on the choices I’ve made and I am reminded of a wise rule: “Fret not where the world will take you.  Instead concentrate on the first step.  That’s the hardest part and that’s what you are responsible for.  Once you take that step let everything do what it naturally does and the rest will follow.  Do not go with the flow.  Be the flow.” – one of the rules (If you know where this is from you win a prize!).

The flow of my travels have taken me to a few new places and I was able to capture some of that here.  Many of these pictures were captured in the high country above Show Low, AZ.  After that trip, AZ is becoming one of my favorite places to ride.

Enjoy.

No hands in Red Rock, Henderson, and Zion

Last weekend was Presidents Day weekend.  The long weekend demanded I get out and spin…and it had to be somewhere warm.  I clocked in 68 miles.  My first ride was Red Rock Canyon loop = 16 miles, then Henderson, NV loop=33 miles (super fun on path along those mountains with the big “B”), and finally the Zion NP road from the gate to the Temple of Sinawava.  Haven’t had a good weekend like this in a long time.  I may write a more detailed blog over in MTB50   Enjoy the pictures.

Biking is life.

If you know “about” this blog then you know I love cycling. If you didn’t then go click the page above for “ABOUT THIS BLOG”. I haven’t been on a bike since Thanksgiving and if there was such a thing as cabin fever for bikes (or in this case, not being on one) I have it. I have a threshold of 45F before I put my butt in a saddle and start riding again. It’s been that cold for that long. I’m not happy about it and I know my bikes aren’t either. When I can’t ride, I swim (indoors of course unless I am somewhere warm enough to swim outdoors). However, I am happiest on a bike. Mountain bike, road bike, or cruiser. It doesn’t matter. I love being on two wheels.

I think if you devote enough time to a sport or activity you can start to draw analogies of it to life. I find this especially true with cycling.  Specifically mountain biking (MTBing) because…well, read on. First, I choose MTBing because that is where my heart is. I didn’t start riding a MTB

The Trusty Steed

The Trusty Steed – my current ride

when I learned to ride. My first official bike was your typical 10 speed up until the late 80s. I bought my first MTB in 1987.  A Diamond Back Ascent. It was yellow, rigid (no suspension), and by today’s weight as heavy as a cast iron Chevy. Perhaps a slight exaggeration but it sure feels like it now.  I rode this bike for years and I rode it HARD. We had some great times the Ascent and I…and friends. I rode it so hard that I broke the fork at one point. Forks are warranted for life so I had it replaced at no charge. I was quite proud for riding it so hard. It means I was pushing it and getting my money worth. I was happy and I’m sure my steed was happy. MTBs are meant to be riden hard. That’s what they are built for.

With MTBing, you pick a line, ride it, pick a line, ride it, repeat…often in the dirt and on a trail no wider than two feet (we call this single track and it’s what we live for).  It requires a surprising degree of concentration to prevent a trip to the first-aid kit or the hospital. In fact, there is more multi-tasking with cycling than any known sport in existence.  If there is, feel free to shout out.  In MTBing there will most certainly be stretches of ascending and descending. Sometimes an easy climb and sometimes a steep climb. Times when you are coasting or flying downhill.  As in life, there are these times as well.  Ascents can be thought of as trials or goals.  Some are more difficult than others but when that end is achieved you are rewarded with an awesome view or a downhill stretch of adrenaline charged fun.  Sometimes the reward is just pain, but it’s a good pain.  It’s the satisfaction that you made it.  Be happy, your body will recover for the next time and then you’ll find it easier.  Congratulations, you’ve grown, you’ve progressed.  You are moving forward!  I really cannot find a sport more analogous to life than cycling and this is why biking is life.

Bike until you're dead.

Bike until you’re dead.