A long but awesome day: 3 Peak Loop

A long but awesome day: 3 Peak Loop

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Aug 29, 2009
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Summer

The Plan

My friend Brandon and I decided to climb Mt. Charleston one day about a month back and this weekend at the end of August was the day we picked to climb. Then, the more we thought about it, the more excited we were to hike. To make a long story short, we decided to hike Mummy Mountain and Griffith Peak also, in a loop. Might as well right, since we are up there already.

I invited my old man to come along but he figured a 20 mile loop might do him in, and he had already climbed Charleston and Griffith before a few times. But he had never been up Mummy, so he decided to accompany us up to Mummy Mountain and then he would turn around and go home. He said he didn't want to slow us down. So we made a plan to start at Trail Canyon trailhead, climb Mummy first, then Charleston, then Griffith, and back down the South Loop trail.

The Long Awesome Day

We awoke early and left our homes in Las Vegas in order to make it there by sunrise. We took two vehicles, parked Brandon's car at the Cathedral Rock trailhead (so as not to get locked in anywhere, like the picnic area), and rode with my old man over to the Trail Canyon trailhead.

The  M  Tree - To Mummy Mountain
Looking up the scree slope from the  M  tree

We broke trail at about 6:45am, right after the sunrise. I had just bought trekking poles and was trying them out on this hike. I just had ACL surgery in June and heard poles take some load off your knees--now I take them everywhere! The first two miles up to the junction with North Loop trail went by very fast. We made it there at 7:45am. After eating a quick apple and a Clif Mojo, we headed up the North Loop trail past Cave Spring until we saw the "M" tree. I immediately recognized it from photos I had seen. We looked up the intimidating scree slope and were not looking forward to this part.

Mummy Mountain cliffs
Mummy Mountain survey marker

It seemed like we would slide back a half step with each step we took. After resting at the top of this ridge, we picked up the trail again and followed it over to the cliffs at Mummy Mountain. We found the correct chute with a nice dead tree in it and climbed up easily to the summit. I think we got there about 10am. We ate some PBJ sandwiches and oranges, took some pictures and left the summit at 10:45am. We had fun 'skiing' down the scree slope, but since none of us were smart enough to have/bring gaiters, at the bottom we all got to take off our boots and dump the rocks out. We said farewell to my old man as he headed back to his truck at the trailhead, and Brandon and I went the other direction.

North Loop Trail - Mt. Charleston
Mummy Mountain

The North Loop trail meanders along the edge of Kyle Canyon, gradually gaining some elevation. We enjoyed nice views and very nice weather all the way to the base of Mt Charleston. We noticed several nice cliffs off to the side of the trail, and several possible campsites with windbreaks. We started up the switchbacks and eventually made it to the summit around 3 o'clock. One of the 57 peaks in the lower 48 states with at least 5000 feet of prominence. We rested in the dugout out of the wind and chatted with a few other people, most of whom came up from the south loop trail.

Charleston Summit
Charleston Peak
Mt Charleston survey marker
South Loop Trail - Mt Charleston

After half hour we headed down south loop towards Griffith Peak. The trail was slightly downhill, but mostly flat so we made good time and made it the four miles from Charleston Peak to Griffith Peak before 5pm. We signed our third summit register for this awesome day, and then headed down. All downhill from here. The switchbacks seem to never end. We were in the shade pretty much the whole time after leaving the ridge. Our feet were starting to get sore, and the trekking poles helped a ton for this last portion of the trail.

Griffith Peak
Bristlecone near summit of Griffith Peak
Las Vegas - from Griffith Peak

I could see Cathedral Rock far below, and remembered that is where our car is parked. From the parking lot, Cathedral Rock seems massive, but from way up here it seems so tiny. So that made the trail seem longer than it really was. There was almost a full moon that night, but it didn't help much, as tall trees blocked any light from reaching us. We walked the last mile and a half in the dark, but saw a few deer, and made it down through the picnic area and to the car right at 8:00pm. We were out of water, and had a nice drink from our Gatorade stash in the trunk before getting in the car and cruising home while listening to Dragonforce's "Through the fire and flames."

In the end, it was an awesome day! Hang out with my dad and my buddy, breath fresh air, and spend the whole day in the mountains. Total loop: a good 20 miles and just shy of 5000 feet of elevation gain in 13 hours 15 minutes.


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