"Medium Falls"

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

About “Medium Falls”


Hiking Distance: 1.5-3 miles round trip with scrambling
Suggested Time: 90 minutes

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

Waterfall Latitude: 36.26214
Waterfall Longitude: -115.66415

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“Medium Falls” was a name I made up for this waterfall because it sat in between Little Falls and Big Falls on the northeast-facing slopes of Kyle Canyon. I could have easily called it “Lost Falls” because this was an accidental waterfall that I never knew existed until I got lost looking for Little Falls and stumbled upon this one. In fact, even after the hike was over, I scoured the internet and looked at my Topo Maps trying to figure out what this waterfall was supposed to be called, but alas, I couldn’t find anything. I was incredulous at the thought that this was a nameless waterfall, especially when it seemed to have better flow than Big Falls on the day that I found this waterfall in late April 2017. In any case, this seemingly unknown waterfall fell in two big drops (probably with a cumulative height of at least 200ft or so), and it didn’t seem to have any obvious signage or other infrastructure adding some legitimacy to the falls. Nevertheless, I’ll keep using this informal name for the falls until someone sets me straight.

I basically became aware of this waterfall when I started from the Echo Trailhead and hiked a fair distance along a dry wash. I missed the correct signpost to continue on the Echo Trail towards Little Falls, and I wound up scrambling for about a quarter-mile along a wash before I noticed the unknown waterfall high up on the mountain’s slopes to my left. It was at this point that I basically tried to follow any faint path or clues of people being here before, and I’d eventually make it up to a bouldery creek bed before encountering a pretty deep snow field. It continued further up the slope towards the base of the “Medium Falls”, and yet it really wasn’t until I reached the creekbed did I finally start to see faint trails going past some artifacts (like the remnants of a trailer as well as some things like empty bottles and pieces of old signs strewn along the way). Once I was on the snow field, the climb got steeper and the footing was a bit more slippery thanks to the snow.

After about 0.8 miles from the Echo Trailhead, I’d reach a point where I decided that I had gotten a good enough view of “Medium Falls” before I turned around. I could have continued further up the steep snow field to get right up to the bottom of the two-tiered waterfall, but it was hard enough to get to this point in the first place, and I didn’t see the value in continuing on. When I went back down, the steep snow field kind of forced me to essentially “ski without skis” as I’d essentially run then jump in mini-self-made-switchbacks. Once I got back down to the faint trail on the left side of the creekbed (facing downhill), I then pretty much continued following the trail directly downhill (keeping right at one obvious fork) before I was deposited in an open area with a sign saying “Old Ski Tow”. This clearing happened to be next to the parking lot for Trail Canyon (which was right at the start of the unpaved Mary Jane Falls Road), and it made me wonder if it would have been better to start the hike from this parking lot instead of the Echo Trail if the goal was to get up to “Medium Falls”. The distance hiked from my turnaround point to the Old Ski Tow was about a half-mile.

To complete the hike, I pretty much followed the wash from the Old Ski Tow all the way back to the Echo Trailhead. It was not a formal trail, and there was one section where there was actually water before it disappeared back into the ground again. There was also a couple of crosses hidden in the area perhaps to commemorate some loved ones who might have died here. In any case, the remainder of the scramble took me about 15 minutes as I went roughly a half-mile. So overall, I had gone about a 1.8-mile loop beginning and ending at the Echo Trailhead, but in hindsight, I would have been better off hiking from the Old Ski Tow / Canyon Trailhead in a one-mile out-and-back hike and scramble. The difficulty score reflected the effort it took for me to do this hike from the Echo Trailhead.

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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. Alternatively, I could have also continued another 0.3 miles beyond the Echo Trailhead on Echo Drive before finding parking at the Trail Canyon Parking Lot right at the turnoff for the Mary Jane Falls Trailhead and right next to the Old Ski Tow clearing, where the more sensible trailhead was to reach “Medium Falls”. 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 back and forth of an unknown waterfall that was between Little Falls and Big Falls that I accidentally stumbled upon while looking for Little Falls

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

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