On the backside of Mount Charleston, leastways if you're coming from Las Vegas, an unnamed ridge stretches out towards Amargosa Desert. The overlook at the end of the ridge provides expansive views of this desert, hence the name Amargosa Overlook. The desert scene, especially since it's seen from afar, isn't all that engaging, but getting to the overlook is.
I got the idea of hiking up Amargosa Overlook from Harlan Stockmans' web page. The route begins on Bristlecone Trail, west of Mummy Mountain. After following the trail for a kilometre, we turned left onto a side trail that heads up a wash. In ten minutes the trail forks. The left fork climbs up a slope, apparently toward Mount Charleston; we stayed in the wash. We hiked to a saddle where the trail forks again. We kept left and ascended a steep, wooded slope. Indeed, most of the route runs through forest. We didn't get our first clear view until we reached the ridge crest. From it, we could see west along the ridge to a false summit and north to McFarland Peak.
The trail, at first obvious, becomes fainter after the false summit, roughly midway along the ridge. There is little to see along the trail. There are a few small clearings, but the best scenery is had by venturing out onto small clifftop lookouts poking out on the south side of the ridge. Unfortunately, views north are less forthcoming because of trees.
We followed the ridge until we reached the high point. Here trees prevented any clear views; we had to drop to a clifftop perch to get a good view of Amargosa Desert spreading below us. However, I was more impressed with Mount Charleston soaring above us, but calling the ridge "Charleston Underlook" would be silly.
Since few trip reports appear on the Internet, I suspect Amargosa Overlook is overlooked in favour of bigger peaks in the Spring Mountains, peaks with official names. Yet it's a pleasant enough hike. So agreeable that Harlan has been up it five times!
Starting up Bristlecone Trail
On the side trail leading to Amargosa Overlook
Heading up to the ridge from the saddle. Mouse over to read the signs.
Behind is one of The Sisters (mouse over for a close-up)
We reached the first clearing on the ridge (click for a larger image)
McFarland Peak (mouse over for a close-up)
Looking back, Lee Peak on the right
Looking ahead from the false summit midway along the ridge
On one of the clifftop lookouts
The trail crosses very few rocks. There was no scrambling.
This was the largest clearing we came across
A trio of old tees
From the trail there is little to see because of trees
Looking up the ridge. Dinah is just right of centre (mouse over for a close-up).
Looking back along the ridge (click for a larger image)
The treed summit is ahead, but we took in the scenery from the clifftop on the left
On the clifftop near the summit. Mount Charleston in the background.
Mount Charleston (click for a larger image)
We didn't spot any wildlife until on the way back when we saw three deer including this one.
We've been to the Spring Mountains several times but this was the first time was saw a deer.
1:24,000 Topo (6.8 mi, 10184 ft, 1385 ft)
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