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From the Field: BACKPACKER Trail Scouts’ Top Western Local Hikes

From a panoramic hike above Sin City and Lake Mead to a slot canyon adventure in Utah, our scouts provide trail beta.

Gass Peak, Desert National Wildlife Refuge, NV
Alan Gegax, Las Vegas, NV

Gain panoramic views of Lake Mead and Sin City on this seldom-traveled, 6.3-mile out-and-back to a 6,943-foot Sheep Range peak. Steadily climb 2,000 feet along arid ridgelines, watching for desert bighorn in the valley below. Pass intermittent Joshua trees and red-, purple-, and yellow-flowered barrel and hedgehog cacti (blooming in May) en route to the summit. Beware what Gegax calls “some of the most diabolical-looking cholla I’ve ever seen.” Trip ID* 54991

“The contrast between views of untrammeled desert to the north and Las Vegas Valley to the south is amazing.”

Willow Creek, Sawtooth NF, ID
Katelyn and Don Watson, Boise, ID

Follow a creek through towering ponderosas to a secluded hot spring on this 7.8-mile out-and-back. You’ll pass the springs—a chain of pools in a rock-strewn meadow—just before mile 1; take a dip on the way back. Climb steadily up the drainage, catching periodic glimpses of the Sawtooths and gaining 1,000 feet before the turnaround at Haypress Creek (3.9 miles). Return to the springs to soak in the +100°F, waist-deep water, keeping an eye out for elk that frequent the area. Trip ID 47110

“Watch for marmots in rock piles near the start.”

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