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Cottonwood Valley - West of Las Vegas
About 20 miles from the Las Vegas Strip. Take Hwy 160 toward Pahrump. There are 2 trailheads approximately 4-5 miles from the junction of Hwy 159 and Hwy 160. The first trailhead, on the right is access to the Red Rock Canyon area. Further up Hwy 160 is another (larger) trailhead on the Left - this access to Cottonwood Valley. There is a big wide dirt road there, don't be fooled there is lot's of good, thrilling singletrack in the desert hills!
GPS: Latitude: Longitude: Elevation:
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Sign Posts 2 - 3 - 4 - I am not a local. I visited this area last week with intentions of riding. I brought my bike because I had read about a trail in the area with a photo caption from Mountain Biking Magazine 5 years ago. When I got here, all I saw was the big, wide dirt road - I was not here for dirt road riding. Luckily, I hung around for a little bit and saw a lone rider coming from WAY down the road. I opted to wait for him and ask about the trails. Good thing I did! The riders name was Tom, from Northern Calif. (I am from Southern Calif.) He told me he rode this once with a local he met while out here last year. Tom gave me the hot tip on the trails. They're out there, you just can't see most of them from the parking lot. (BTW- Tom rented a 2000 Fisher Sugar from a local Bike Shop on W. Charleston Blvd. - $45 day). The trails are generally well-marked with BLM sign posts. It appears they use a numbered trail system, and often 3 trail numbers mark the same trail. Later in the ride, I noticed the trails became more individual to their number. (For example, the choice 'red rock style' singletrack I returned on was simply marked '4'. Whereas, the trail I started on was marked '2 4'. In some sections the trail was marked '2 3 4'. I'm sure you get the idea). Trail 2 4 starts out about 1/2 mile down the wide, dirt road on your right. Singletrack most of the way, you meander upward to the base of the desert canyons and hills. For the most part, you simply meander up/down/in and around these canyons and hills all the while on singletrack that you can't see a few hundred feet ahead or behind you. You pretty much deal with what's within your immediate view. Eventually, the trail comes to a large hillside that from the parking lot was a little, tiny hill. The trail switchbacks up the hillside to the top of a plateau. Now the trail meanders a more downhill trajectory - you really get a chance to open up and roll with the trail. Lot's of fun in this section! Eventually, the trail meets up with the big ol' wide dirt road again (believe it or not, it looked to me like I was only roughly 3-4 miles from the parking lot, but my computer indicated I had traveled 9 miles). Here the trails seemed to be individually marked and all crossed or followed the road. I crossed the road and went up a short hill to a lookout point that gives an AWESOME Desert, Red Rock Canyon view! You can clearly see Las Vegas way out there in the distance. (This must be an awesome view at night, the locals are lucky!) I hung out here awhile and took some photos. Another rider, also from Northern Calif., came along and took a photo for me. He came up the trail I was intending to go down and indicated there was lot's of Red Rock to enjoy. We parted and I headed on down Trail #4. What an incredible section of trail! About 4 miles of the sweetest, roller coaster, majestic singletrack you could hope to find! I even saw a wild Burro (apparently, common in these parts)! The trail drops you out on the big, wide dirt road (now on your left)about 1.5 miles from the parking lot. Looking back from the parking lot you can see a small section trail #4. Trail #4 - remember it, do it! It was late-afternoon, in to early-evening when I was there. I rode for 3 hours and only 18 miles. (I stopped to take alot of photos so may be that's why it took so long). The trails were not particulary difficult, but hotter temperatures I'm sure would be a factor - there are NO shade trees. Often I found the landscape and desert views distracted me and I would wander off course and crash into a bush or cactus - it got to be somewhat humurous after awhile! Riding alone in the middle of unfamiliar desert was VERY exhilirating for me and I enjoyed it immensely. I often ride alone, you get to see much more wildlife. The sunset was awesome, the trails were awesome, the experience was awesome. You owe it to yourself to try it! All this just 20 minutes from the Vegas Strip! (Note: my apologies to the locals. I suspect this may have been a bit of a secret, but it is unfair not to share such incredible beauty!) Ride rating: Intermediate Ride distance: 18 miles Elevation change: 800 ft? Singletrack=95% Dirt Road=5% MTB Fiend a 41 year old Cross-Country Rider riding a ProFlex Animal from Lake Forest
Posted on 5/03/00