Little Falls

Mt Charleston / Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest / Spring Mountains National Recreation Area / Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

About Little Falls


Hiking Distance: 1.8 miles round trip; many false trails
Suggested Time: 60-90 minutes

Date first visited: 2017-04-22
Date last visited: 2017-04-22

Waterfall Latitude: 36.25576
Waterfall Longitude: -115.65537

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.

Mt_Charleston_423_04222017 - Little Falls mostly covered in snow
Little Falls mostly covered in snow

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.

This was especially the case at the most critical junction, where there was plenty of signage keeping me on the Echo Trail but not on the path to Little Falls.

In any case, as you can see from the photo above, my visit in late April 2017 might have been too early in the season as most of its drop was covered in snow.

Mt_Charleston_410_04222017 - I had to deal with a lot of snow as I was scrambling closer to Little Falls
I had to deal with a lot of snow as I was scrambling closer to Little Falls

Indeed, I had to slosh my way through a deep snowfield, and that snow kept me from really benefitting from the fruit of my labor to get up to it.

Anyways, this was an excursion that was way harder than it should have been and the difficulty score reflects this.

While it was better timing to see the more famous Mary Jane Falls further up the Kyle Canyon, it was still probably a month or two too early to see this 30ft waterfall (at least given the snow pack conditions that I had to deal with).

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 in the trail description below.

Hiking to Little Falls

Mt_Charleston_387_04222017 - Looking across the wash at an easy-to-miss sign near the Echo Trailhead, which led me in the direction of Little Falls
Looking across the wash at an easy-to-miss sign near the Echo Trailhead, which led me in the direction of Little Falls

I started the Little Falls 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.

Mt_Charleston_400_04222017 - This signed pole was one of the confusing sections where the steeply ascending path on the right degenerated into a very steep scramble up to Cathedral Rock and it did not take me to the Little Falls
This signed pole was one of the confusing sections where the steeply ascending path on the right degenerated into a very steep scramble up to Cathedral Rock and it did not take me to the Little Falls

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.

Nevertheless, 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.

Mt_Charleston_407_04222017 - After making a right at the next unsigned trail junction, I hiked the final stretch up the canyon leading towards the Little Falls, but I also had to deal with a lot of snow deeper into that canyon
After making a right at the next unsigned trail junction, I hiked the final stretch up the canyon leading towards the Little Falls, but I also had to deal with a lot of snow deeper into that canyon

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.

Mt_Charleston_429_04222017 - Close-up look at the Little Falls mostly covered in a snow chunk wedged between the narrowing gorge
Close-up look at the Little Falls mostly covered in a snow chunk wedged between the narrowing gorge

At this point, the trail pretty much was within the creek supporting Little Falls, but 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 Little 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.

Mt_Charleston_469_04222017 - Looking towards Mt Charleston Village at the foot of the imposing Cockscomb Ridge
Looking towards Mt Charleston Village at the foot of the imposing Cockscomb Ridge

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.

It also provided gorgeous views across Kyle Canyon towards the Mt Charleston Village at the foot of the imposing Cockscomb Ridge.

Authorities

Little Falls resides in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near Las Vegas in Clark County, Nevada. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.

Mt_Charleston_382_04222017 - Looking back towards the Echo Trailhead as I pursued the Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_303_04222017 - 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 trailhead
Mt_Charleston_394_04222017 - 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 left
Mt_Charleston_400_04222017 - Even though I have this photo shown in the main write-up above, it's worth repeating having this photo here.  Indeed, this was the next trail post at a pretty insidious false trail junction. The correct path to Little Falls was to the left of this sign.  The steep uphill path on the right actually went up to Cathedral Rock, and it did not go to Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_404_04222017 - 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 later
Mt_Charleston_409_04222017 - Dealing with a lot of snow on my way up the canyon towards the Little Falls as the canyon closed in
Mt_Charleston_415_04222017 - I had to follow the footprints to ensure that I was going the right way to get to Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_419_04222017 - Getting closer to Little Falls as the canyon was about to round a bend just behind the graffiti
Mt_Charleston_420_04222017 - Looking back towards the snowy section that I had walked on so far in my effort to reach the Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_421_04222017 - Brighter look back at the slippery snow patch on my way up to the Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_431_04222017 - Zoomed in on the only part of Little Falls that I could see above the snow
Mt_Charleston_439_04222017 - Looking back downstream from Little Falls as the cliff walls were getting incident light bouncing off the adjacent canyon walls
Mt_Charleston_446_04222017 - Going back on the snow field as I was leaving Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_455_04222017 - Back on drier terrain as I was making the downhill hike back to the Echo Trailhead after having had my fill of Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_463_04222017 - continuing on the return hike as I was coming back from Little Falls
Mt_Charleston_481_04222017 - Descending back down to the wash near the Echo Trailhead
Mt_Charleston_483_04222017 - Looking in the other direction further up Kyle Canyon on my way back from Little Falls towards the Echo Trailhead
Mt_Charleston_488_04222017 - Finally making it back to the Echo Trailhead

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To get to Little Falls, I wound up driving towards the Echo Trailhead.

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.

Mt_Charleston_300_04222017 - Looking back at the Echo Trailhead, which was my starting point for the Little Falls adventure
Looking back at the Echo Trailhead, which was my starting point for the Little Falls adventure

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.

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

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Tagged with: las vegas, clark county, mt charleston, nevada, waterfall, medium falls, kyle canyon, echo trail



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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