Though not far off the beaten path, this often-overlooked mountain, tucked away behind its neighbor, The Sisters
, in the more obscure northern portion of the Spring Mountains of southern Nevada, which lies to the north of Lee Canyon, is seldom noticed and even more seldom climbed.
By its easiest route
, this well-fortified peak, surrounded on all sides by limestone cliffs, is merely class 3, requiring a roundtrip jaunt of about 4 miles with merely 1800 feet or so of elevation gain. It sounds easy, and it is.
Although Macks Peak's standard route is short and easy, it doesn't disappoint. There's a nice (though short) bit of exposure toward the end of the route and the summit views are expansive.
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Take Highway 95 north from Las Vegas to the Lee Canyon Road turn-off. The turn-off is about 45 minutes drive from downtown Las Vegas, depending on traffic and road conditions, and there is obvious signage for Lee Canyon and the ski resort.
Don't confuse the Lee Canyon turn-off with the Kyle Canyon turn-off though. Kyle Canyon Road is the first turn-off along Highway 95 that takes you to the Mt. Charleston area. Lee Canyon Road is about 10 minutes later.
Anyway, turn left (west) onto Lee Canyon Road from Highway 95 and keep driving. It's 19 miles to the ski resort, but you'll be turning off a few miles before that.
While driving, look for The Sisters, and just to the right (north) of it, Macks Peak, on the north side of the road. The "mummy" profile of Mummy Mountain
, which gives it its name, is also very apparent on the approach.
At around mile 13 on Lee Canyon Road, look for the turn-off to Macks Canyon on your right (north). There is a sign, but it is not obvious. The turn-off is designated by an obvious dirt pull-out on the side of the road with a dirt road heading northward. If you reach the junction of Lee Canyon Road and Deer Creek Road (paved), you've gone to far. Turn around and backtrack a mile or two.
Once the Macks Canyon turn-off is located, follow the dirt road about 4 miles to the end. Toward the end, the condition of the road deteriorates but is still passable to most passenger cars. In winter and most of spring, the dirt road will be snowed in and very likely impassable.
Park at an obvious turn-around at the end of the road.
Welcome to Macks Canyon. You may have noticed that the vegetation has changed from pinon/juniper to ponderosa pine, that there was a small (protected) spring on the left as you approached, and many many fine spots to camp near the mouth of canyon. It's a nice area. Smile. You are in a beautiful area, and it is unlikely that you will see another person for the remainder of your stay.
There really isn't any red tape.
No permits are required to climb the mountain.
Leave bristlecone wood alone. Don't steal it and don't burn it. From a scientific standpoint, fallen bristlecone wood is beneficial, nay, crucial in dating the trees and helping to identify geological/biological events having historically and prehistorically occurred. You never know if that neat-looking piece of bristlecone wood you're throwing on your backcountry campfire or lugging back to your garage is 4000 years old.
When To Climb
Macks Peak can be climbed year-round. In the winter, there is snow. In the summer, there is not. The in-between months have varying degrees of either snow coming or snow going.
The snow first starts to fall around the middle of October and tends to linger until June on northern exposures.
During snow months, the normal access via Macks Canyon can be difficult/impossible in a vehicle and many extra miles of snowshoeing may be required.
Backcountry camping is allowed without a permit, although wood fires are not.
There are many developed campgrounds in the Mt. Charleston/Spring Mountains area. I'm not here to advertise them. They are generally walk-in and are all easily stumbled across.
You can contact the Kyle Canyon Visitor's Center at 702-872-5486 to obtain current conditions for the Spring Mountains.