A typical day at the end of summer in Las Vegas will often reach 100 degrees, but the temperature at the end of Kyle Canyon will be in the 60s. The water coming off the falls is much cooler and the slot canyon that is hiked to reach the falls is almost always in the shadow. The temperature at the base of the falls is a comfortable 55 degrees.
The temperature change, the beginning of the fall colors, the bright yellow wildflowers, and the bright sunshine make this short hike a pleasant break from the work at home, yet allow time to finish the necessary chores that conflict with the natural desires of the weekend. Driving north out of Las Vegas on U. S. Highway 95 the turn off for Kyle Canyon is about the halfway point. The next 19 miles are an enjoyable drive up the Canyon watching the changes in the terrain while you gain about 5,000 feet in elevation.
Cathedral Rock or Little Falls?
At the end of the canyon find a place to park, either of the two trailheads to Little Falls is a hike of less than a mile (one way) and a total hiking time of less than 20 minutes. The trailheads are very near parking areas at an elevation of 7,650 feet. The distance makes the hike easy; the elevation and elevation gain of 600 feet may make this hike more challenging.
From the Cathedral Rock trailhead the first elevation gain is up the steps. At the top of the steps a left fork is the direction to Cathedral Rock Overlook, a hike rated “most difficult” by the SMNRA. A right fork is the direction of Little Falls a hike that is rated easy.
Little Falls in a Slot Canyon
The Little Falls trail is only one-half mile from this fork. It is well shaded and follows the drainage of the creek, which will visibly flow during a rain or spring snow melt. The area has had several fires in recent years. Since the Mt. Charleston lodge and cabins are in this area, the hiker will notice that there is much tree removal and thinning taking place. It is hoped that this work will prevent fires and preserve the buildings.
From the beginning of the trail among the pine trees, the hike continues along the creek drainage with the mountain shrubs, finally making the turn into a narrow canyon. Here the sheer limestone walls shade the trail. It is always well marked but steep. In the canyon the water is finally seen among the rocky, tree strewn path. Take any part of the canyon floor as the path, the canyon narrows to eight feet at several pinches. Another turn and the falls are visible.
Sit and enjoy the falls. Imagine the fury that could fill the canyon during a thunderstorm. The light spray now is enjoyable and the falls beckon the adventurer to try and climb. Others have left a rope to help with the climb up to the next level. Remember what goes up must come down. Go only as far as it is enjoyable.
The hike down is quick and easy. If you enjoyed the relief from the heat of Las Vegas and the pressure of work, return trips are quick and easy. The Spring Mountain Youth Camp has been removing recent graffiti from the canyon walls. This will make the hike feel more of a complete escape. It is a great beginning hike for all ages and hiking ability.