Hiking The Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail

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Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail - View of the Lake.
Shawn Reece on the Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail

Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail – For Nature Lovers & Families Too

Millions of people flock from around the world to Las Vegas annually to party and lose all of their money. Of those people, quite a few make the trek out to Hoover Dam. After all the dam is perhaps our country’s biggest depression era landmark and is quite the site to see. Now that they have built the amazing Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, there is even more of an incentive to make the forty-five drive.

With thousands of people visiting the area daily, it is a surprise that the Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail isn’t more well known.  In fact, as a Las Vegas local, I hadn’t heard about it until last year. The trail starts just outside the Lake Mead Recreational Area and winds for about four miles before reaching the Hoover Dam parking garage.

Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail - One of the tunnels.
One of the railroad tunnels with Lake Mead on the left.

When Hoover Dam was under construction, several railroad lines were built to connect the site to nearby Boulder City.  The Historic Railroad Trail follows the path of some of those tracks. The trail goes over and around mountains, through several old rail tunnels and provides great views of Lake Mead.

Shawn Reece and I finally got to do this hike the other day.  The trail is relatively easy and mostly flat.  We did the 8 mile roundtrip hike, but some people may opt to choose to do only a smaller portion.

If you want to just explore the railroad tunnels and see Lake Mead, you can hike the first 1.5 miles in and then turn back towards the trail head parking lot.  Additionally, if you have two vehicles, it may be a good idea to leave one at Hoover Dam and then park the other at the trail head.  This way you could make the four mile one-way hike and see the whole trail.

Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail - Map from beginning to end.
The Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail is fantastic!

While there are a ton of family activities in and around Las Vegas, it doesn’t get much better than this. Depending on the season, you can see plenty of wildlife and the spectacular views of the bright blue lake with its brown mountainous backdrop are fantastic. If you are heading out to Hoover Dam or Lake Mead anyway, the Historic Railroad Trail should be on your list of places to visit.

Directions

  • From the strip take I-15 South to I-215 East.
  • Continue on I-215 East for about 13 miles to US 95 South.
  • Continue on this road as it turns into US 93 and enter Boulder City.
  • Follow the signs for Lake Mead. (You will stay on US93 which involves making a left at a stoplight in Boulder City.)
  • Turn left on Lakeshore Rd (The entrance to the Lake Mead Recreational Area) and continue to the parking lot just past the visitor’s center turn off.  This is the trail head.  Amazingly this is outside of the fee area, meaning that it is a completely free activity!
Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail - Map.
Parking at the start of the Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail.

Conclusion

While we go hiking a lot and I certainly don’t mention every trail I find here on the blog, I think this one is unique enough to go out of your way for.  If you are going to be in Las Vegas and especially if you plan to visit Hoover Dam, I highly suggest giving yourself a little time to hike on this fantastic trail.  You will love the views of Lake Mead and the kids will love the reality of hiking through old railroad tunnels. Even at 13 years old, Shawn Reece had a blast!

More Photos from the Lake Mead Historic Railroad Trail


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