Night hikes offer cool alternative to city life

With summer temperatures at their highest, the nighttime is the right time for recreational activities in the valley.

A perfect way to escape the sweltering desert heat while still enjoying the great outdoors is to take part in a night hike, according to Mandy Keefer, an interpreter at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. The park is on state Route 159 about 10 miles west of the Las Vegas Beltway.

"It's awesome," she said. "When it's hot out and you can't hike during the day, what better time to go than at night?"

The park offers two guided night hikes a month through different trails, when the moon is full. Those hikes include the Ash Grove Trail and the Sandstone Canyon Trail.

The hikes begin after the park closes, offering hikers a unique experience.

"We offer (the night hikes) as a special opportunity for hikers, to be able to get out without having to be in the middle of the heat," Keefer said.

The Ash Grove Trail is a 1½-mile hike that meanders through the largest grove of Arizona ash trees outside of Arizona and across two of the park's five natural springs.

The well-groomed trail and moderate temperatures make for an enjoyable jaunt for 69-year-old John Doss, who participated in the Aug. 2 night hike.

"I enjoyed it very much," Doss said. "It was just beautiful with the full moon and all of the flowers. And it wasn't too hot, either."

Christine Pinotti brought along her husband and 8-year-old daughter.

"It was fun to get away from the city, get out of the house," Pinotti said. "We've been in a rut this summer with it being so hot. I'm always looking for things to do with (my daughter) that are different from the norm."

The Sandstone Canyon Trail hike, offered Aug. 3, took hikers through the historical area just south of the Spring Mountain Ranch Reservoir, formerly Lake Harriet.

"There's a sandstone cabin and a little historic area," Keefer said. "We do explore that area, and I give historical information on the properties."

Keefer has guided the night hikes for three years and said there is always something new to offer visitors.

"It's a nice opportunity to get people away from their city life," she said. "They can come up here when it's nice and quiet and experience that serene beauty."

Keefer added that there was a need for the night hikes.

"During the summertime, it was super quiet in the park, and we understood why, as workers being out here," she said. "It's just hot. We thought that people would come if we offered hikes at night. And they did."

The next night hikes at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park are planned for 7 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30.

Hikers are encouraged to wear appropriate hiking attire, including sturdy footwear and comfortable clothing. Flashlights are also recommended.

For more information or to reserve a spot, call 875-4141.

Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Nolan Lister at or 383-0492.