Nevada’s Top Trails and Hiking Hotspots

From easy ambles to alpine scrambles and plenty in between, Nevada is a hiker’s paradise.

Nevada is a hiker’s paradise, offering easy ambles and alpine scrambles and everything in between. And whether you’re looking for a casual stroll with the kiddos, a summit-topping day hike, or a multi-day wilderness thru-hike, here in the fifth-largest state, our vast diversity of terrain spans a range as wide as the level of adventure you’re comfortable taking on.

Tackle trails that meander among colorful, otherwordly rock formations in our southern desert lands, or that zig-zag up to towering peaks in our hundreds of mountain ranges, or that skirt streams leading to pristine lakes and waterfalls, and beyond. One thing’s for sure: a breathtaking Nevada vista is waiting for you around every bend, no matter where you decide to venture.

Ready to take your first step? Check out this roundup of some of the absolute best hikes in Nevada.

Hiking in Nevada: Find the perfect trail for you with this roundup of Nevada’s best hiking destinations.

Desert Delights

Adventure Level: Easy Family Frolics

These three classic southern Nevada locales are all within easy range of Las Vegas, each with multiple trails that are quite literally a walk in the park, including with well-behaved doggos on leash.

Cathedral Gorge State Park
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Valley of Fire State Park

Nevada’s first, oldest, and most famous state park—offers some of the easiest ways to get up close and personal with southern Nevada’s most photogenic rock formations. Best time to go: fall through spring, when temperatures (and crowd sizes) are lower. 

Atlatl Rock (0.1 mi) – Named for an ancient hunting tool used to hurl a spear, which is depicted in some of the many petroglyphs that line the trail.

Mouse’s Tank (0.7 mi) – Leads to a small, natural rock basin where rainwater collects; also a great place to gaze at ancient petroglyphs etched into the sandstone.

White Domes (1.1 mi) – An easy loop showcasing a slot canyon, wind caves, and white sandstone rocks, which stand out in brilliant contrast to the glowing red rocks that give this park its name.

Fire Wave (1.5 mi) – The park’s most iconic feature (you’ll recognize it) lives up to its name with red and white striations painting a sandstorm frozen in time and perched over a sweeping view of the park beyond.

Valley of Fire State Park

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Cathedral Gorge dazzles with its vast natural amphitheater of weather-cut fins, spires, and “hoodoos,” which form a playground of winding slot canyons that beg to be explored. Best time to go: year-round.

Moon, Canyon, and Cathedral Caves – Each of these areas invites visitors to explore the park’s mesmerizing erosional features both inside and out, some of which feel like slot canyons and tunnels. How far in (or up) you go is completely up to you.

Miller Point (1 mi) – Follow a wash through a spectacular side canyon, ultimately ascending up a fin to one of the park’s most breathtaking panoramas.

Juniper Draw Loop (3 mi) – The park’s longest trail circumnavigates the gorge’s floor, taking you past a wide range of CG’s famous features, with ample opportunities to spot wildlife.

Cathedral Gorge State Park

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

Kershaw-Ryan is a spring-fed oasis filled with verdant, wild gardens and fruit trees, a cool soaking pool, and easy trails up to magical viewpoints of the colorful canyon and the mountains ensconcing it all. Best time to go: spring through fall and milder winters.

Canyon Overlook Loop (1.4 mi) –Wind your way up a series of rock-carved stairs and switchbacks, then skirt the ridge of the 700’-deep, creek-cut canyon, where several perfectly placed benches offer different perspectives of the variety of landscapes down below and all around, including from an optional spur to a higher viewpoint.

Kershaw-Ryan State Park

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Waterfall Wonders

Adventure Level: Easy to Moderate Family Frolics

When those who’ve never been here (or who haven’t yet ventured beyond the Strip) think “Nevada,” they don’t always think “water.” But we’ve actually got a lot of the stuff, including in places where you can watch it cascading majestically downward as a reward for a few minor huffs and puffs—all dog-friendly, and all best visited in spring and early summer, when snowmelt is at its peak.

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Mary Jane Falls

About an hour from Las Vegas, in the Mount Charleston Wilderness, a 3.1-mile out-and-back trail lures hikers keen on escaping the Mojave Desert heat to this refreshing waterfall. The shady trail switchbacks up about 1,000’ past wildflowers and a cave to the falls, which spill down a rock face into a chilly pool.

Spring Mountains & the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area

Kings Canyon Waterfall

From downtown Carson City, follow King St. about five minutes west to the Kings Canyon Trailhead. An easy quarter-mile walk is all it takes to reach this 25’ cascade. If you’re after more waterfalls and some wonderful views of the valley, continue along the 3-mile loop.

Kings Canyon Waterfall

Hunter Creek Falls

Fifteen minutes west of Downtown Reno, this 5.7-mile out-and-back trail rolls gradually upward along Hunter Creek Canyon, transporting you from the high-desert scrubland near the Truckee River into dense Sierra Nevada pine forest. The payoff? Thirty-foot Hunter Creek Falls and an expansive grove that is perfect for a well-earned picnic.

Hunter Creek Trail

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Lakeside Lopes

Adventure Level: Easy to Moderate Family Frolics

As mentioned above, Nevada is no stranger to watery grandeur. These hikes showcase that fact in a different way, with camera-hogging views of lakes both huge and small, famous and lesser-visited, and all which are most definitely worth the trip—or even a dip. 

north lake tahoe shore
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Tahoe East Shore Trail

Want a taste of Lake Tahoe without the traffic? Bust out the walking shoes, bikes, or even blades on this 3-mile, lakeshore-hugging, paved multi-use path connecting Incline Village to Sand Harbor State Park, by way of jaw-dropping vista points and small swimming beaches. Bike rentals are available at the trailhead or from Big Blue Bike Rentals at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort. Best time to go: spring through fall.

Tahoe East Shore Trail

River Mountains Loop National Recreation Trail

Although this entire route extends 34 miles, there are plenty of choose-your-own-distance sections that reward walkers with panoramic views of Lake Mead—the nation’s largest reservoir—the Las Vegas Valley, and the Spring Mountains beyond, with one section that carries you through the old train tunnels of the Historic Railroad Trail between Boulder City and Hoover Dam. Best time to go: whenever it’s not too hot!

River Mountains Loop Trail

Lamoille Canyon

The glacier-cut crown jewel of Nevada’s spectacular Ruby Mountains is a wonderland of wildflowers, waterfalls, rushing streams, and views of craggy peaks reaching upwards of 11,000’, all of which earn this region apt comparisons to the Swiss Alps. Best time to go: summer through fall, once the snow has melted and before it returns.

Island Lake – Short-but-sweet 3-mile round-trip switchbacker that climbs 1,000’ to a glacial cirque where the destination’s name becomes beautifully obvious. Massive views all the way.

Ruby Crest Trail – For info on the thru-hike, scroll down. If you’re looking for day hikes, the same trailhead takes you to some of the Rubies’ most picturesque alpine lakes. Dollar Lakes: 2.8 mi r/t, 840’ gain. Lamoille Lake: 3 mi r/t, 990’ gain. Liberty Lake: 8.7 mi r/t, 2,063’ gain.

Great Basin National Park

Nevada’s national park (one of the nation’s lesser-visited and, therefore, least crowded) never ceases to amaze. Here are some ways to find out why. Best time to go: summer through fall, before the snow has melted and before it returns.

Alpine Lakes Loop – In just 2.7 miles and a mild 600’ elevation variant, you’ll pass Stella and Teresa Lakes—both crystal-clear remnants of glaciation that reflect 13,065’ Wheeler Peak (Nevada’s 2nd-largest). 

Bristlecone and Glacier Trail – OK, this combo doesn’t take you to any lakes. But it didn’t used to be that way. The proof? Go whole-hog on this 4.6-mile out-and-back and you’ll see what remains of Nevada’s last and only active glacier. Even if you choose to take it easier with a 2.8-mile round-trip hike, you’ll still see the world’s oldest trees—5,000-year-old bristlecone pines—in a cirque that was once covered in ice. 

Great Basin National Park

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Serious Summits: Take Your Peak

Adventure Level: Ambitious All-Day Adventures

Fun Fact! Nevada is the most mountainous state in the Lower 48. That includes 300+ named mountain ranges. (Guess we peaked early?) Those ranges are also home to eight of America’s ultra-prominent peaks—which means, regardless of the elevation, the tippy-top is at least 4,900’ closer to the sky than the mountain’s visible base. In Nevada, it’s often far more, as with two of the three mentioned below. In other words, if you’re into bagging the big stuff, your head’s in the right (Silver) State. Best time to go: summer through fall, once the snow has melted and before it returns. 

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Mount Rose Summit

It’s the peak you can’t miss (and don’t want to) from just about anywhere in Reno—and also one that, from the top, gives you larger-than-life views of the Truckee Meadows, Carson Valley, and all of Lake Tahoe in the biggest of ways. On the way up and down, this 10.5-mile round-tripper (presenting only 2,000’ of elevation gain), carries you past cascading waterfalls, rushing creeks, meadows bursting with wildflowers, and more.

Mount Rose Wilderness Area

Wheeler Peak

Topping out at 13,065’ of elevation and rising 7,562’ above the high-desert valleys below, Nevada’s second-tallest peak is the literal capstone for hikers visiting Great Basin National Park. But don’t let those numbers scare you. The 8.6-mile round-trip trail begins at 10,160’—thanks to a helpful lift from Wheeler Peak Scenic Byway—netting an elevation gain of 2,900’. The reward is a 360° view out to eastern Nevada and western Utah, as well as down to the alpine lakes and ancient bristlecone pine-studded slopes below.

Great Basin Hiking Trails

Charleston Peak

And then there’s Nevada’s 5th-largest peak, which rises to 11,916’. Sure, there are taller mountains. But this one looms a whopping 8,241’ above the valley below. (For reference, only one of Colorado’s fourteeners bests that.) That means the 360° from this 17.2-mile round-trip romp (with 7,316’ of elevation gain) may be the closest you can get to a bird’s eye view (without actually flying). And the trailhead is only an hour from the Las Vegas Strip. Best time to go: summer through fall.

Spring Mountains & the Mt. Charleston Wilderness Area

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Wilderness Thru-Hikes

Adventure Level: Off-Grid Experts Only

Backpackers rejoice! If your version of fun is tramping through untouched wilderness for days on end with your world strapped to your shoulders, Nevada’s got you covered. These multi-day forays take you deep into—and high above—some of Nevada’s most pristine backcountry, where wildlife thrives and uninterrupted vistas are yours alone. Best time to visit: summer through early fall. Dogs welcome.

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Tahoe Rim Trail

More alpine lakes than you can count, lush meadows, dense forest, and, of course, unbeatable “Big Blue” views abound on this famous 165-mile circuit of North America’s largest alpine lake. Eight trail sections each pack their own distinct personalities—from easy ridgeline rolls to the Desolation Wilderness’ high, rocky passes—which allows for multiple outings. However, joining the 165 Mile Club all in one go is a Nevada thru-hiker’s rite of passage.

Tahoe Rim Trail

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

These 43 majestic miles trace the backbone of northeastern Nevada’s fabled Ruby Mountains Wilderness, passing wide-open ridgelines, rushing streams, several alpine lakes, and meadows aflame with colorful wildflowers. Elevations range from 7,200’ to 10,983’, with lots of gains and losses as you conquer numerous summits, which offer views of Ruby Lake NWR, Elko’s high-desert steppe land, and even Great Basin NP’s Wheeler Peak 100 miles away.

Ruby Crest National Recreation Trail

Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail

The wildest of them all, this 72-mile, hardcore backcountry expedition traverses the seldom-trafficked Toiyabe Range through untamed country teeming with native plants, deer, elk, mountain lions, beaver, and many large birds of prey. The rugged trail stays mostly above 8,000’, topping out at towering 11,781’ Arc Dome (prominence: 5,213’), promising panoramic vantage points the entire way. This rugged trail in the heart of Nevada is about as far from anything or anyone as you can get—expert wayfinding skills required.

Toiyabe Crest National Recreation Trail & Arc Dome Wilderness

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