Mount Charleston hikers to observe National Trails Day

In celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, the U.S. Forest Service is giving valley hikers an opportunity to help restore two Lee Canyon trails.

Hikers can gather at both the Bristle­cone and Bonanza trailheads around 8 a.m. Saturday to trek into the canyon and help perform routine maintenance such as repairing switchback retaining walls.

The event will also commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, U.S. Forest Service trails program manager Suzanne Shelp said. The act created and protected more than 9 million acres of federal land as designated wilderness, including the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

Hikers will be joined by pack stock, a group of mules hauling lumber, tools and supplies for volunteers, Shelp said. The Bristlecone chapter of the Back Country Horsemen will lead hikers and the handful of mules up into the canyon.

“If you’re working on the trail and hauling up supplies, that’s an awful lot of work and not very efficient,” Shelp said. “You want to save that energy.”

The morning will start with a safety talk and restorations will stretch into the afternoon, Friends of Nevada Wilderness spokesman Jose Witt said. The group also plans to install a kiosk funded by the National Stewartship Alliance at the trailhead which will contain information on the Bristlecone pine, the oldest-known living species on Earth, and the Mount Charleston blue butterfly, an endangered species.

Both can be found on the Bristlecone and Bonanza trails.

“National Trails Day is about more than doing work,” Witt said, “It’s learning about these trails and appreciating them and taking ownership of what we have as Americans.”

As hikers trek up the Bristlecone trail, the group will be guided through a grove of Aspen trees.

Witt said the trees are currently a bright green color and started budding about two weeks ago.

At the top of the trail, sweeping views of Mummy Mountain, East Las Vegas, Pahrump, the Sierra Nevada and Death Valley can be seen on a clear day.

Last year, a fire ripped up the back slope and upper ridge of Kyle Canyon, damaging a few major trails, including Cathedral Rock.

Littered with hazards such as burnt trees and flood damages, Shelp said those trails are still being repaired and will not reopen this season.

In the meantime, Shelp said the Forest Service will be opening 25 miles of new trails in Kyle Canyon and 50 miles of new trails in Lee by the end of this year’s season, an expansion the agency was working on well before the fire.

“We’re more than doubling the size of our trail system,” Shelp said. “We’re getting pretty close. We just need to get some signs up.”

Contact Rachel Crosby at rcrosby@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290.