Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Hike Report: The Historic Railroad Trail

Yesterday Donna and I hiked some of the Historic Railroad Trail near the Hoover Dam. The one-way trail is about 3.5 miles long, making the total distance for the hike about 7 miles (3.5 miles out plus 3.5 miles in). The trail is actually an old 30 mile railroad grade that connected Boulder City to the Hoover Dam construction project. Construction of the grade began in 1931, and the railroad remained in use until 1961. In 1984, this section of the railroad was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2015, it was designated a National Historic Trail.

The most unique part of the trail is the first 2.25 miles or so, which passes through 5 tunnels. Each tunnel is about 25 feet in diameter and about 300 feet long. Views of Lake Mead and the surrounding area are also impressive, and wildlife such as bighorn sheep can also be seen at times.

We began our hike at the Alan Bible Visitor Center on Lakeshore Road just north of Highway 93 a few miles east of Boulder City. This visitor center also serves as a trailhead for the River Mountains Loop Trail, a 34 mile developed trail. We did not hike the entire trail, but below are some pictures of the section we did hike.

Parking lot at trail head. At left are 2 composting toilets. Just up the hill to the left is the Visitor Center, which has modern restrooms and various displays.
This gate is about a quarter mile into the hike. The sign says, "DANGER Extreme Conditions! STOP Do not hike Jun - Sep HEAT KILLS"

Since this is an old railroad grade, the trail is wide and pretty level. You can see the trail weaving along the base of the mountains to the left.
My intrepid bride on the trail with Lake Mead in the background.
You can clearly see the water line in this picture. Yeah, the lake could use some water.
The first of the 5 tunnels. You can see the second tunnel from this vantage point as well.
Donna snapped this shot of me just before entering the first tunnel, with the second tunnel visible in the distance.
I tried to show the ribbed look of the walls and ceiling of this tunnel in this photo.
I took this photo from the Visitor Center. In the center-left of the shot, you can see the parking lot of the trail head. The trail itself is also visible as it weaves along the base of the mountains in the center of the picture, just a little above and to the right of the parking lot/trail head.
A marina on Lake Mead. Again, notice the water lines indicating how low the lake is.

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