While in Las Vegas for the MoneyShow last May, I wanted to do something fun outside the Strip. The new River Mountains Loop Trail looked very inviting. The nearby towns have put in a 34-mile paved bike trail that loops along the shores of Lake Mead and through the desert. (Hi-Res Map of Whole Trail)
For me it will be a 22-mile out-and-back jaunt along the main paved trail from Boulder City to the Alan Bible NPS Visitor Center and then on the Historic Railroad Trail to Hoover Dam.
I rented a nice mountain bike (since I like to be upright and the Railroad Trail is not paved) from All Mountain Cyclery. They were very helpful — let me in when I showed up early and got me on my way quickly.
From the bike shop it is a quick uphill on Yucca St to join the trail at Bootleg Canyon Park.
Lots of mountain bikers use the dirt trails in Bootleg Canyon. Here’s some artwork they left behind:
I stick to the paved path which heads downhill in a big way — sometimes sailing down the sluice channel for desert flash floods.
The trailhead for the Railroad tunnels and Hoover Dam is relatively easy to spot out of the Visitor Center Parking. What gave me pause was the gate on the dirt trail because the rocks seem to lead the other way and the gate makes it look like a private construction site. But yes, going through the gate is the way to the dam.
The tunnels were constructed for the railroad to bring the materials to build Hoover Dam. Here I am looking forward to checking them out:
And here’s the view from inside. Nice and cool with no trolls!
At the dam, they make you lock up your bike
Way up here above the dam.
But the walk down is worth it, and not only for the ice cream in the cafe!
Couldn’t resist a side-trip onto the walkway on the new O’Callaghan-Tillman Bridge across the Colorado River which gives traffic a way to bypass Hoover Dam. Here’s the view back to the dam. Amazing they felt the need to paint that danger warning on the top of the concrete dam, isn’t it?
Finally, its time for the looong climb back to the bike shop. I did this on a sunny late spring day — perfect clear skies and temps in the 70s. Still, a dip in Lake Mead looks very inviting.
I settle for a stop in the shade of a culvert because I fear the extra 1000′ climb up from Lake Mead is more than enough for one day.
Along the way, I get to study the “Trail Closed” signs I flew by on the way down. I wonder what that’s about as I wasn’t the only rider to ignore them. Considering this path is my best route home, up I go.
Back to my car and then a stop at the Railroad Pass Hotel. This old-school casino offered $7.99 prime rib for a hearty refuel after the ride.
They are also right on the bike trail — will remember that for next time.