Harris Mountain is the 9th highest peak in the Spring Mountains of southern Nevada. Although appearing relatively small next to its gigantic neighbors, Griffith Peak, Charleston Peak, and Mummy Mountain, its steep and imposing north face grabs the attention of those visiting the Kyle Canyon area as it is the first large mountain encountered as one enters the upper canyon.
Due to the mountain's lack of maintained trails and its position as the "little sister" of the group of giants surrounding it, Harris Mountain does not see many visitors. Those who do come generally do so via a class 1 / 2 use trail from the Harris-Griffith saddle (accessed from the signed Harris Springs Road off of Kyle Canyon).
The following description of the approach via Harris Springs Road is given here in its most basic form, as I've never actually utilized the route to attain the summit of Harris Mountain and my information is from memory (from having traveled part of it on my way to another destination) and second hand, and therefore, limited.
* Harris Springs Road approach: From Las Vegas, take I-95 (north) to the Kyle Canyon turn-off (SR-157). Turn left (northwest) and follow the road for about 7-8 miles, looking for the signed Harris Springs Road turn-off on the left. Harris Springs Road is a well-maintained dirt road. Follow the dirt road for a couple of miles, ignoring lesser dirt roads that occasionally branch off, and look for a dirt road heading off to the right (northwest). The dirt road is signed for the Griffith Peak trailhead. Follow the road toward the Griffith Peak trailhead. The road is in generally good condition as it started to wind up into the mountains, but starts to deteriorate as you get higher. I highly recommend a high clearance and 4WD. It is about 7 miles on this road to the trailhead. There is adequate parking at the trailhead. The trailhead lies on the southern flanks of Harris Mountain. To the north-northwest lies Griffith Peak. From the north side of the parking area, a wide, and rather level, path heads off northward along the southwestern slopes of Harris Mountain. I was once told the interesting history of this wide path - I wish I could remember it more clearly. Apparently, back in the day, this "wide path" was a road that was under construction. Some president, Roosevelt perhaps (?), stopped by (don't remember why) and asked what this strange road up in the mountains was being built for. The workers could not answer his question, so the president ordered further construction to be stopped. So there you have it. Anyway, follow this wide path for a couple of miles until you come to an obvious saddle between Harris Mountain (on the right) and Griffith Peak (ahead and left-ish). This is where my personal knowledge ends - From what I understand, from this point you follow a use trail from the saddle eastward up the ridge to the summit of Harris Mountain. To my knowledge, the route never exceeds class 2. The approach roads for this route are of questionable quality in places as it is, but expect significantly worse conditions in winter, particularly as one gets closer to the trailhead.
More interesting, as far as the mountain's routes are concerned, are the North Ridge route and the North Ridge Direct route, both of which I've done in winter and found to be highly enjoyable. The North Ridge route, although obviously also doable in summer, makes for a nice, steep, and direct class 3 snow route in the winter. More challenging, and therefore more fun, is the North Ridge Direct route, a class 5 mixed snow and rock variation of the North Ridge route.
*You might also check out a fledgling outdoor site (www.backcountry-explorer.com), which provides access to trip reports, beta, photos and other stuff covering hiking, scrambling, climbing and canyoneering around Las Vegas. A new hiking and scrambling guidebook, Rambles & Scrambles: The Definitive Guide to Peakbagging Around Las Vegas, is now available.
From Las Vegas, take highway 95 (north) to the Kyle Canyon turn-off (highway 157). Turn left (northwest) and follow the road for about 10 toward the small community of Mt. Charleston. En route, you will pass through the desert scrub lands of the lower part of Kyle Canyon, into the Joshua tree lands of the middle section (be sure to check out the La Madre Mountain scar to the south), then into the pinon/juniper woodlands of the upper middle portion, and ultimately to the ponderosa forests of the upper canyon. Upon reaching the ponderosa forests of the upper canyon, you will notice Harris Mountain's north face on the left (south) side of the road. Shortly before reaching the Kyle Canyon Visitor's Center, which is on the left side of the road, you will notice a prominent, cliffy ridge towering above the road as it sweeps down from Harris Mountain. This is the North Ridge. Just below the ridge is a small parking area on the side of the road. Park here to start either the North Ridge or the North Ridge Direct route.
No permits, fees or passes are required to climb the mountain.
The mountain is open and accessible year round.
Much of the mountain is comprised of wilderness, so please, respect the land.
When To Climb
Harris Mountain can be climbed any time of year.
Backcountry camping is allowed without a permit and without cost. Obviously, practice minimum impact camping and travel.
Fires are not allowed, and the collection of bristlecone wood is prohibited.
There are many developed campgrounds in the Mt. Charleston area. For more information on campgrounds, contact the USFS number below.
I am not aware of any webcams in the Mt. Charleston area, but if you want an idea of what current conditions are like, try contacting the USFS at 702-515-5400.
As is typical with the higher mountains, expect frequent afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Also, expect snow from around mid-October until early June.
jtellis - Apr 22, 2012 2:34 pm - Hasn't votedCan no longer get a low clearance vehicle up to the Griffith Peak trailhead
You may have been able to get a Toyota Corolla up to the Griffith Trailhead when this page was written, but that is no longer the case. This should be changed on your page for sure. I just tried today to get my Corolla to the trailhead and had to turn around about one mile short. I've taken my Corolla about everywhere possible in the Vegas Valley, and this is simply not doable. I had to do what was the most perilous 20-point turnaround of my entire life (if my front wheels had slipped off the edge, that would have been the end of my car and maybe me). Furthermore, though I was able to get almost to the end of the rough road, there is not a single place to pull over or park along the way. Unlike many points along the roads that wind through the DNWR and areas south and east of Vegas, this is a narrow road that you either make it to the end of, or you don't. If you're planning to make it to the Griffith Peak Trailhead, you need a high clearance vehicle, period. Otherwise, you'll end up wasting a lot of time - and adrenaline - like I did.