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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Frenchman Mountain Summits

Demanding summit hike on a rough cut road. Duel summit ascents of Frenchman Mountain and Frenchman Mountain Northwest.

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Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 4.9 miles / 7.9 km
Duration: Half day
Dog Friendly
 
Overview: Frenchman Mountain is not part of any mountain range, rather the triangle peak was formed by the underlying fault elevating it. The mountain is made up of rocks similar to those found on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The Frenchman Mountain fault is still considered a potential earthquake danger to the region.

Communication towers dot the summit and the hike will leave one breathless, but no other peak allows the simple direct vertical view of Las Vegas that Frenchman Mountain offers.

Thanks to everyone who has taken beautiful pictures of this hike that I have used in this guide.

A GPS track can be downloaded for another device from Other Resources under "Trip Report".


Tips: The rough cut road to Frenchman Mountain is considered class 1, however Frenchman Mountain Northwest is considered class 2 and as such is a backcountry route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to your surroundings. Your safety is your responsibility.

In my pack:
GPS, Camera, Cell phone and sunscreen. Headlamp and backup flashlight if hiking at night.

Lunch and lots of energy snacks
Water: 3 liters** (84 degrees F) take minimum 3-4 liters on a hot day.

Good shoes for walking.
Hiking poles help in the loose rock.

Permit: NOT required

Points of Interest

Parking
map

Trailhead and Parking

Follow Lake Mead Blvd east into the mountain range. The trailhead can be identified by the gravel road leading directly south toward the ridgeline. Park and proceed through the wide spot in the gate which allows passage of hikers but no motorized vehicles are allowed.

No restroom facilities exist at the trailhead.
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First Saddle

The hike to the first saddle is a warm up for the first leg of the hike. Hike early enough in the morning that this leg is still in the shadow of the mountain.

The upcoming section is the longest section of the hike.
Viewpoint
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Switchbacks

Just before the second saddle a series of switchbacks create stunning viewpoints and help with climbing the steep terrain.
Junction
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Second Saddle

The second saddle is a junction and decision point. To the west resides Frenchman Mountain Northwest. Continuing south the road drops away into a valley of sorts and appears to climb straight up the Frenchman Mountain with more switchbacks near the top. It is a breathtaking view and more than a little intimidating.

Note: appearances can be deceiving and the view to Frenchman Mountain is a form of optical illusion regarding distance and height.

Skip to POI #9 if skipping Frenchman Mountain summit.
Junction
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View of Las Vegas

At the bottom of the hill is a stunning view looking west through the massive wash which drains from both ridgelines. The wash is a slot canyon route which requires technical experience and equipment to negotiate.
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Frenchman Mountain

The road looks steep from the bottom, but not as intimidating as viewed from across the valley and the second saddle. This leg of the hike is not nearly as long as the first leg.
Viewpoint
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Final Saddle

Just past the switchbacks the road tops the final saddle and the view south is breathtaking.
Viewpoint
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Summit Frenchman Mountain

Hike up the small road, turn to the hikers left and scramble past two white propane tanks below the communication towers to the ridgeline. A summit cairn exists with the summit registration jar enclosed. Walk the few more steps to where the fence line meets the ridge. This spot is considered to be the legal summit and crossing around the fence is trespassing.
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Frenchman Mountain Northwest scramble

Backtrack to the second saddle. Turn west and follow the faint class 2 trail to the ridgline. At the ridge follow the easy trail to the summit.
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Crux of Frenchman Mountain Northwest scramble

The trail along the ridge drops off the western side and presents the crux for this hike. The trail narrows, as it moves through a rugged wash with high exposure. Plenty of hand holds make the move simple enough, but could be difficult for someone with a fear of heights. (it is possible that a work around exists, however I didn't look for one).
Viewpoint
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Summit Frenchman Mountain Northwest

More stunning views, a summit registration and an American Flag rest at the summit.
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Return to trailhead & parking

Return to the trailhead using the same path and road. Use caution on the loose rock.
Pictures in this guide taken by: steve625, knutella, fbrizard
Reviews
steve625
A relatively short hike of just over 4 hours; Frenchman Summit can place you in one of the most beautiful overlooks available to view the valley. Because you are hiking a dirt road, evening or night viewing is spectacular without the added risk of traversing back along a trail in the dark.
Visited on Mar 16, 2013

by steve625 on Apr 20, 2013

Frenchman Mountain Summits Trail Map


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About the Author

steve625
steve625
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On the Mountain of the Sun summit registry someone wrote "you can't un-climb a mountain". To me the...

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