Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2017

Currently: 60° — Complete forecast

Trail opens world of nature to Southern Nevadans

What: Opening of 10 miles of the River Mountains Loop Trail.

When: Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Equestrian Park, 1200 Equestrian Way, Henderson.

Bicyclists, hikers and runners will gain a new perspective of some of Southern Nevada's most prized natural areas this weekend.

The first 10 miles of the River Mountains Loop Trail will formally open today, giving people access to views of the River Mountains and Lake Mead. The path, off limits to motorized vehicles, includes areas frequented by bighorn sheep, desert tortoises and other native Nevada wildlife.

Today's events will include a naturalist guided hike, equestrian trail and mountain bike rides, and information sessions from natural resource management agencies and outdoor and conservation groups.

While the section opening is in Henderson, the trail as planned will include 35 miles in unincorporated Clark County, Boulder City and Henderson.

Boulder City is working on the design of three more miles from Railroad Pass to the state Veterans Home, and the National Park Service is working on about 15 miles more.

"This is important not only to Henderson, but to all of Southern Nevada because it gives more diversity to our recreational opportunities," Henderson Councilwoman Amanda Cyphers said. "It's something that people can use to get away and experience nature. There are wonderful trails where you can experience the environment.

"As we grow in the valley, it protects the types of equestrian and non-motorized activities that we still have," Cyphers, a horse owner, said.

The 10 miles being dedicated today includes "a good elevation change" of more than 700 feet from Lake Las Vegas to Railroad Pass, said John Holman, a Southwest Gas executive and one of the volunteers who worked for years to get the project off the ground. Those traveling the route could see not only bighorns and tortoises, but desert tarantulas, coyotes, kit fox and bobcats, he said.

Holman said those who use the trail this weekend may still find a few rough patches. City workers should polish those spots within the next several weeks, he said, because the trail needs to be ready for the Nov. 13 Silverman Triathlon. The trail will be about a quarter of the running part of the triathlon.

More than a dozen groups and government agencies helped put the project together, and the $4 million price tag for the 10 miles of trail is covered by proceeds from federal land sales, Cyphers said.

Holman said the project was complex because of the number of government agencies, private landowners and groups involved.

"It is the first time a project of this magnitude has been done with so many land agencies," Holman said. Among those involved in the decadelong effort were the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Nevada Transportation Department, said Holman, chairman of the River Mountains Trail Partnership Council, which brought together those disparate groups and others to coordinate planning of the effort.

Launce Rake can be reached at 259-4127 or at [email protected]