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This 7.8-miler chugs along an old railway bed, through five dynamite-blown tunnels to the Hoover Dam, a 726-foot-tall concrete plug in the Colorado River. From the visitor center, hike east on the Historic Railway Trail. In 1 mile, the trail dips into the first of five railroad tunnels blasted through the Aztec Sandstone Mountains in the 1930s. This rail line transported much of the supplies to build the second largest dam in the United States.
One of the best overlooks to Lake Mead is near tunnel 5. See the islands? Those are the tips of massive mesas. After the last tunnel, the trail descends 300 feet in 1.6 miles to the Hoover Dam. If time permits, check out the visitor center and tour the dam.
- Distance: 6.3
Location: 36.0164680480957, -114.741790771484
Location: 36.0166320800781, -114.751625061035
Location: 36.0158386230469, -114.753204345703
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Location: 36.0131874084473, -114.787673950195
Location: 36.0168838500977, -114.762756347656
Make sure you return before nightfall
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Inside the Tunnel
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Location: 36.0114479064941, -114.794044494629
From the visitor center, hike east along the Historic Railroad Trail.
Note: No water on trail. Pack extra as temperatures can soar above 100 degrees F.
Location: 36.0111389160156, -114.790870666504
Continue straight through access gate and head northeast towards Lake Mead.
Location: 36.0132369995117, -114.787712097168
Overlook: Crest the top of a small hill and enjoy sweeping views of Lake Mead, mesas, and the marina. The white bathtub ring on the sandstone shows how high the water level used to be.
Location: 36.013355255127, -114.784561157227
More views of Lake Mead from several benches along the trail
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Tunnel 1: Pass through the first of five tunnels over the next 1.2 miles. These tunnels were blasted through the Aztec Sandstone Mountains. Unable to climb the steep gradient, heavy-loaded trains zigzagged across the desert to and from Boulder City.
Location: 36.0169486999512, -114.762672424316
Tunnel 5: The final one. Choices: Continue east to the Hoover Dam, or turn around to return to your car. Plan accordingly. The gates ahead are locked after dark.
Location: 36.0158538818359, -114.753074645996
Path winds down to the Hoover Dam. Jackrabbits, bighorn sheep, and seasonal flowers dot the desertscape.
Location: 36.0167045593262, -114.751495361328
Turn left at 3-way junction and continue on the Historic Railroad Trail.
Location: 36.018928527832, -114.749824523926
Turn right at 3-way junction
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Cross under crackling powerlines and go straight at 4-way junction with a service road.
Location: 36.0172843933106, -114.742782592773
Final descent to Hoover Dam
Location: 36.0162353515625, -114.741508483887
Trail ends at dam parking area. Return to your car, or walk the Hoover Dam and stop into the visitor center.