Nature lovers and history buffs will be fascinated by the 2.5-mile loop trail at St. Thomas, located just outside the Valley of Fire State Park. The town was lost when Lake Mead started filling in during the late 1930s, but as the lake has receded in recent years, the ruins of the town have resurfaced.
It’s hard to believe that Lake Mead once covered the entire area; when we were there on a recent Saturday, we couldn’t even see the lake. But the ground was littered with seashells, and many of the foundations were covered in silt. All that was left of some of the buildings were concrete slabs or scattered broken bricks, but at other sites, you can still see partial walls, steps and windows. There are no signs to explain what the buildings were, but it’s fun to speculate.
In some areas, there was a lot of broken glass and debris, and past visitors have placed a lot of it on the ruins for other people to examine. There were pieces of old bottles, china, metal fragments and even what looked like pieces of old leather shoes. We also came across a couple of old wells; most of them were covered, but we did see at least one that was not, so be careful.
This is an easy hike that anyone can enjoy, including dogs. You’ll have to climb down a steep hill from the parking lot, but otherwise the elevation is flat. The brush is more than 5 feet tall, but you can see the parking area from just about any point, so you won’t have to worry about getting lost. The trail is marked, but in some areas, it’s overgrown and not always easy to follow, but that’s part of the fun. Just when you think you’re going nowhere, you’ll stumble across a clearing and the ruins of an old building.
You might want to wear jeans and a long-sleeved shirt because you’ll get scratched and slapped by the overgrown brush. Also, there are no garbage cans at the site, so be prepared to haul out your own trash. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, too.
You probably won’t run into a lot of other hikers at St. Thomas. We got there at about 1 p.m. on a Saturday and saw only one other couple the entire time. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to do the entire loop, but we took a lot of time to explore the ruins and take pictures.
To get to St. Thomas, take Interstate 15 north to Exit 75-Valley of Fire State Park. Drive through Valley of Fire, about 28 miles, to the stop sign at Northshore Scenic Drive. Continue straight on the dirt road for about four miles to the parking area.