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Fortification Hill Hike

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, Nevada

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Fortification Hill Hike

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  • Beginning the hike up the wash to Fortification Hill.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Views from below of Fortification Hill.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Looking north down the trail past basaltic outcroppings.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Lichen growing on the basalt produced from the volcanic flow-capped mesa.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Looking east from the summit of Fortification Hill with partial views of the caldera.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Views to the south of the Mount Wilson Wilderness Area.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Looking down into Kingman wash along the trail.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • After signing the register, make sure to let Old Glory fly atop the summit of Fortification Hill. An old American flag has been left near the summit register and USGS marker.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Views of the southwest corner of Lake Mead from the top of Fortification Hill. Kingman wash and the Black Canyon are visible below in the left of the photo.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • The trail traverses the ridge toward the band of basalt at the center of the photo. When hiking, aim for the edge of the basalt band pictured farthest right for the easy scramble to the top of the mesa.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Views to the east from the summit into the old caldera of Fortification Hill.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • Views south of the approach trail on the ridge out of the wash.- Fortification Hill Hike
  • - Fortification Hill Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Solitude. Scenic views. Geology. Mojave desert.
Cons: 
Rough road. Steep trail.
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Region:
Las Vegas + Southern Nevada, NV
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,400.00 ft (426.72 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Total Distance: 
4.00 mi (6.44 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
2,300.00 ft (701.04 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Near the Hoover Dam and the Black Mountains in Lake Mead sits Fortification Hill, an ancient flow-capped mesa that came into existence roughly 13 million years ago as the crust around present day Lake Mead was stretched thin. Magma welled up and poured out of the crust and gradually cooled into basalt, a darkly colored extrusive volcanic rock.

The hike to the summit of Fortification Hill begins in a sandy wash that wanders through the Mojave Desert life zone, and the area is characterized by low growing shrubs such as creosote bush, broom snakeweed, burrobush, white bursage, and brittlebush. The trail is rather worn and easy to follow, and it climbs out of the wash toward the eastern side of the mesa. On the climb up, the trail begins to steepen near the visible basalt band around the upper third of the mesa. After a short section of third-class scrambling through the band of basalt, the trail flattens out and gains the top of the mesa. Take in the views and take a few moments to rest and enjoy the brilliantly colored lichen that covers the exposed basalt. After catching your breath, follow the trail as it bends back west around the caldera toward the summit cairn on the northwestern side of the peak.

On clear days, the summit of Fortification Hill offers perfect views of the western half of Lake Mead, the Muddy Mountains, the Spring Mountains, and the Virgin Mountains to the northwest. A register and a U.S. flag exist at the USGS summit marker, so be sure to let Old Glory fly as you take in the scenic vistas of Lake Mead.

Hiking the trail early in the morning or evening offers brilliant sunrises and sunsets across the rugged mountains of Southern Nevada. During the late spring and summer months, hiking during the cooler times of day is vital for staying comfortable while hiking in the Mojave Desert.

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Nearby Camping + Lodging

(2 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(15 within a 30 mile radius)

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