Little Falls

Mt Charleston / Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest / near Las Vegas / Clark County, Nevada, USA

Rating: 1     Difficulty: 2.5
As much of the Little Falls as I was able to see given the snow obstructing the view of most of its drop

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Little Falls was almost the waterfall that got away when I attempted to visit it right after doing the Mary Jane Falls hike. The problem was that the trail to access this waterfall wasn't terribly obvious. In fact, on my first attempt, I managed to miss the correct trail entirely and I wound up finding a completely different waterfall. Even on the second attempt (once I saw a trail map at the Trail Canyon Trailhead nearby and knew where I was supposed to be walking), I was confronted with more misleading false trails and lack of signage pointing the way to the Little Falls, especially at the most critical junction (but plenty of signage keeping me on the Echo Trail). In any case, once I finally did find the waterfall, I had to slosh my way through a deep snowfield, and as you can see from the photo at the top of this page, that snow kept me from really benefitting from the fruit of my labor to get up to it. Indeed, this was an excursion that was way harder than it should have been (the difficulty score reflects this), and while it was good timing to see the more famous Mary Jane Falls further up the Kyle Canyon, it was still probably a couple months too early to see this 30ft waterfall. Thus, I'm sure a return visit is in order now that I know how to find this place, which I'm about to explain to you shortly.

I started the hike from the Echo Trailhead (see directions below). I just as easily could have started from the Cathedral Rock Trailhead, but I'll only describe the Echo Trail route since that was how I did it. Immediately from the small parking area, there was signage pointing me to go right and following the dry wash briefly upstream. I had to pay close attention here because barely a minute later, there was another easy-to-miss trail sign on the opposite side of the wash pointing uphill to the left. This was the trail sign that I had missed on my first go, and it led to a long and difficult scramble nowhere near the Little Falls. So once I was on the correct trail, it ascended then flattened out for about the next 0.6 miles.

Along the stretch of correct trail, there were a couple of signs pointing me away from some false trails. There was a particularly insidious one where a sign saying "Echo Tr" was pointing to the left and right, but there was a wide path ascending steeply past the sign towards nothing in particular. Some confused hikers thought it was the trail to Little Falls, but gave up when it was apparent that it degenerated into a steep and difficult scramble. Meanwhile, I persisted and continued along the Echo Trail before it eventually junctioned with another unsigned trail on the right (this was the critical junction I alluded to earlier). The Echo Trail continued to the left, which would eventually lead to the Cathedral Rock Trailhead and the NV-157, but I didn't need to go that way. So turning right and going up the unsigned trail, it would eventually ascend for the last 0.3 miles until the small canyon narrowed and the trail pretty much was within the creek supporting Little Falls. It was covered in snow during my visit in late April 2017. After rounding a corner when the canyon was already closed in, I was finally right in front of the falls, yielding the view you see at the top of this page.

Overall, this 1.8-mile round trip hike took me about an hour. It probably should have taken between 30-45 minutes given all the head-scratching I had to do to figure out which path to take when confronted with false trails. So that's something to keep in mind when planning to visit this modest little waterfall. The benefit of doing this excursion was that it was far less busier than Mary Jane Falls and it provided gorgeous views across Kyle Canyon towards the Mt Charleston Village at the foot of the imposing Cockscomb Ridge.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

I believe the rock formation across Kyle Canyon was the Cockscomb Ridge, and the chalets of Mt Charleston below it gives a sense of scale of how imposing it wasI believe the rock formation across Kyle Canyon was the Cockscomb Ridge, and the chalets of Mt Charleston below it gives a sense of scale of how imposing it was
It's hard to believe that Mary Jane Falls was about an hour's drive from the Las Vegas Strip, which by the way possessed quite the energy at night reminding us of some of Europe's city centersIt's hard to believe that Mary Jane Falls was about an hour's drive from the Las Vegas Strip, which by the way possessed quite the energy at night reminding us of some of Europe's city centers
Of the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, perhaps Julie and I were most nostalgic when it came to the Venetian because its re-creation of the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco reminded us of VeniceOf the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, perhaps Julie and I were most nostalgic when it came to the Venetian because its re-creation of the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco reminded us of Venice
Looking back at the Echo TrailheadLooking back at the Echo Trailhead

Just on the other side of the wash near the trailhead was the second trail signpost. Be sure not to miss this or else you'll make the same mistake I made and go in the opposite direction of where Little Falls should beJust on the other side of the wash near the trailhead was the second trail signpost. Be sure not to miss this or else you'll make the same mistake I made and go in the opposite direction of where Little Falls should be

This is the key point to remember. If you find yourself still hiking in this dry wash after more than a minute of leaving the Echo Trail, then you've most likely missed the signed turnoff to continue on the Echo Trail.  So turn back and look for the correct turnoff near the trailheadThis is the key point to remember. If you find yourself still hiking in this dry wash after more than a minute of leaving the Echo Trail, then you've most likely missed the signed turnoff to continue on the Echo Trail. So turn back and look for the correct turnoff near the trailhead

After ascending for the next 0.2 miles or so, the trail flattened out a bit and I then encountered this trail post, which kept me going right and prevented me from taking the false trail on the leftAfter ascending for the next 0.2 miles or so, the trail flattened out a bit and I then encountered this trail post, which kept me going right and prevented me from taking the false trail on the left

The next trail post was at a pretty insidious false trail junction. The correct path was to the left of this sign.  Don't take the steep uphill path on the right even though it looked pretty obviousThe next trail post was at a pretty insidious false trail junction. The correct path was to the left of this sign. Don't take the steep uphill path on the right even though it looked pretty obvious

When I finally found the correct 0.3-mile spur path to Little Falls, I started to encounter some snow patches. Little did I realize that this was a foreshadowing of what was to come laterWhen I finally found the correct 0.3-mile spur path to Little Falls, I started to encounter some snow patches. Little did I realize that this was a foreshadowing of what was to come later

As the trail ascended higher, I was about to enter a more extensive snow patch just beyond where this family up ahead was chilling outAs the trail ascended higher, I was about to enter a more extensive snow patch just beyond where this family up ahead was chilling out

Following the snowed in path as the canyon closed inFollowing the snowed in path as the canyon closed in

I had to follow the footprints to ensure that I was going the right way to get to Little FallsI had to follow the footprints to ensure that I was going the right way to get to the waterfall

Getting closer to Little Falls as the canyon was about to round a bend just behind the graffitiGetting closer to the falls as the canyon was about to round a bend just behind the graffiti

Finally finding the Little FallsFinally finding the Little Falls

Zoomed in on the only part of Little Falls that I could see above the snowZoomed in on the only part of the waterfall that I could see above the snow

Looking back downstream from Little Falls as the cliff walls were getting incident light bouncing off the adjacent canyon wallsLooking back downstream from the falls as the cliff walls were getting incident light bouncing off the adjacent canyon walls

Going back on the snow field as I was leaving Little FallsGoing back on the snow field as I was leaving the waterfall

Back on drier terrain as I was making the downhill hike back to the Echo TrailheadBack on drier terrain as I was making the downhill hike back to the Echo Trailhead

Descending back down to the wash near the Echo TrailheadDescending back down to the wash near the Echo Trailhead

Finally making it back to the Echo TrailheadFinally making it back to the Echo Trailhead


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


180 degree sweep of the Little Falls mostly obstructed by snow and some kind of log jam


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From the Las Vegas Strip, I drove onto the I-15 north towards the US95 Freeway heading west. I then followed the US95 for about 16 miles before turning left onto Kyle Canyon Rd. Then, I drove on Kyle Canyon Rd (NV-157) for about 20 miles going through the village of Mt Charleston then leaving the NV-157 by turning right onto Echo Drive (there was a brown sign for Trail Canyon and Mary Jane Falls directing me to turn this way at this point). Continuing another 0.1 mile on Echo Drive, I then turned left onto the small parking area for the Echo Trailhead. Note that this trailhead was about 0.3 miles before the turnoff for the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead further up Echo Drive. Overall, this 44-mile drive would take around an hour after leaving the New York New York Hotel and Casino.

To give you some context, Las Vegas was about 265 miles (about 4 hours drive; possibly more with traffic and drivers ignorant of the keep right except to pass highway etiquette) northeast of Los Angeles, California, 121 miles (2 hours drive) southeast of Beatty (near Furnace Creek in Death Valley), 99 miles (over 90 minutes drive) north of Laughlin, 123 miles (about 2 hours drive) southwest of St George, Utah, 276 miles (about 4.5 hours drive) west of Page, Arizona, and 424 miles (about 6 hours drive) southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.


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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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