Maybe it's because of its curious name, but Magic Mountain caught my attention ever since I started climbing in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area three years ago. But like many climbs in Red Rock, routefinding can be difficult; landmarks are often few, while trees, bushes, and huge boulders can conceal the easiest way up. So I asked my Las Vegas friend Shin to guide me to the summit.
We started up Pine Creek Trail, but we left the trail well before reaching Pine Creek. Shin led me around to the left side of Magic Mountain to a steep gully where we made our way up and around boulders. Nothing difficult here, mostly a steep hike. Eventually the gully tops out on the col separating Juniper Peak and Magic Mountain. From the col we hugged the right side behind Magic Mountain to reach the base of a steep, rocky slope. As we scrambled up, we took care because of the loose rock: one slip and you could end up sliding a long way down.
Eventually the grade eased and we came to the sandstone summit block, about 6 m high. After scrambling up, we were on the airy summit of Magic. There was little room on the slanted top so we were confined to keeping close to the left edge. We spent half an hour perched on the summit before coming down.
There's nothing magical about Magic Mountain. And being among the smallest peaks in Red Rock, it's apt to be overlooked – and literally looked over from the tops of taller mountains – but it's a satisfying ascent when time is short.
Magic Mountain (centre) from the trailhead
Heading to the gully at the base of Magic Mountain
Starting up the gully
Looking back after ascending a short way
Working around some boulders
At the top of the gully we'll traverse behind and right
Looking east at Blue Diamond Hill
To the south are Mount Wilson and Rainbow Mountain
From the col we'll work our way right before ascending. Bridge Mountain in the centre.
On the backside of Magic Mountain
We climbed straight up
Shin climbs up the summit block
The sandstone rock grips easily
Nearly on the summit
Not much room on the summit block
Shin carefully comes down
Heading down the backside of the mountain
Grippy approach shoes helped in some places
In the descent gully, Shin takes a short walk out on an exposed ledge
Heading back down to the desert flats
La Madre Mountain and Blue Diamond 1:24,000 Topos (3.3 mi, 5361 ft, 1407 ft)