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Mary Jane Falls at Mt. Charleston
Mary Jane Falls is an easy to moderately difficult hike located on Mt. Charleston. The falls are made from two separate springs that feed it during the spring and summer months from the melting snow atop the mountain from the winter before.
Mary Jane Falls can also have flowing water during the winter months but the trail becomes more difficult to traverse due to the snow covering the switchbacks leading up to the falls and ice covering some of the rocks.
The end of the trail is also home to a little cave off to the left where hikers can see the valley below and hide from the sun depending on how hot it is.
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Things To Take With You on Mary Jane Falls
Given the difficulty of the hike, you shouldn’t expect to need an exorbitant amount of gear which is nice for those wanting to have a relaxing hike or for those trying out hiking for the first time with little gear. The basics of a liter or two water, a backpack, snacks, and a sweater or jacket are needed for the hike. If you want to have a picnic at the top, there are plenty of spots to sit and enjoy lunch whether it be out in the open near the falls or inside the cave.
As far as shoes go, hiking boots are recommended due to the ankle stability they give you and the fact they are designed to go over rocks and take a beating.
Mary Jane Falls can be done in tennis shoes if you don’t have boots in the summer and spring once all the ice and snow has melted. If you do use tennis shoes just be a little more cautious of where and what you step on. Hiking in the winter months, boots are basically a necessity with how slippery the trail gets. Crampons are also recommended if there’s a bunch of ice because they’ll let you grip and dig into the ice for better footing.
Weather at Mary Jane Falls
Weather atop the mountain can be around 10 to 20 degrees cooler than the Las Vegas valley. While these numbers aren’t exact, they’re able to give you a rough estimate as to what to expect if your weather apps can’t pull the temperatures of the area. The summers hardly break 80 degrees Fahrenheit, spring will hover around 50 to 65 degrees, and fall weather will range from the 70’s to mid 50’s. During the winter months, you can expect temperatures to stay under the mid 40’s and dip into the low 20’s to high teens at night.
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Hiking Mary Jane Falls
As mentioned before, Mary Jane Falls is an easy to moderately difficult hike mostly due to the elevation, switchbacks, and loose rocks. Hikers can expect to walk about 3 miles total with most of that being at a slight incline. At the start of the trail, the ground is typical to a forest with leaves, dead trees, rocks, and dirt lining the floor. As you start making your way up the trail towards the switchbacks, the ground becomes looser and more gravely with patches of scree but not to the point of endangering hikers who are walking up to the falls.
The starting elevation for Mary Jane Falls is around 7800 feet and you can expect to have an elevation gain of around a thousand feet once you’re at the top. Hiking this trail is an out and back experience which means that you can easily do it within a few hours at steady pace.
Hikers can expect to take about two to three hours to complete the hike depending on their pace and how long of a break they take at the top to take in the falls and the little cave off to the side. If you hike Mary Jane Falls in the winter, be prepared to hike on makeshift trails especially at the top where the snow has covered the switchbacks.
Getting to Mary Jane Falls
Getting to Mary Jane Falls is pretty simple and can be done in most vehicles depending on the weather.
During the winter months, it’s a must to have an all wheel drive car, 4×4, or a car with chains as there is usually ice and snow on the roads.
In order to get to Mary Jane Falls you have to:
- Take the US-95 N/ Oran K. Gragson Fwy for 4.7 miles.
- Turn left toward W Frontage Rd. (This turn is a little tricky to see sometimes so keep an eye out for the left turn in the middle of the highway)
- Turn left onto W Frontage Rd itself for about a half mile.
- Turn right onto NV – 157 W/ Kyle Canyon Rd and follow that for 16 miles.
- After 16 miles you’ll see a roundabout. Take the first exit on it to NV-157 W/ State Rte 39 and follow that for another 4 miles.
- After 4 miles, continue on Echo Rd/ Kyle Canyon Rd for about a half mile. (As approach the end you’ll see a sign that says South Loop Cathedral Rock which follows the main road and Trail Canyon Mary Jane Falls that goes straight to a back road. You want to continue straight onto the back road.)
- Continue on Echo Rd until you see Mary Jane Falls Rd. and take a left into the parking lot.
Extra Tidbits about Mary Jane Falls
Because of how easily accessible the trailhead is, Mary Jane Falls has plenty of parking to accommodate a good amount of vehicles. There are three places you can park with a lower parking lot which is just off the side of the road but is further away from the trailhead, mid parking on the right side of the road leading to the trail, and upper parking which is at the top and the closest to the trail. Parking on the side of the road in the middle is allowed but only if you parallel park. Parking at the top parking lot has a combination of regular side by side parking as well as angled parking that sort of hangs off the road. All parking is free.
There is one bathroom for the entire trail that is at the start with both men and women’s sections. Cell service is available most of the time at the parking lots but the deeper into the trail you get, the more spotty it becomes with it eventually just not being there all together.
Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they’re on leashes at all times and as long as you pick up after your dog. The first half before the switchbacks of Mary Jane Falls is very kid friendly but not so much stroller friendly due to the nature of, nature. The second half where it starts to incline more and become more up and down is still kid-friendly, they just better be prepared for the incline/switchbacks.
Mary Jane Falls Resources
- Google maps
Mary Jane Falls at Mt. Charleston
My parents raised me to appreciate nature and how to enjoy it with family and friends. Group camping trips, family hikes, and long ski weeks are what I grew up enjoying.
As an adult, I now focus on more travel to backcountry areas to enjoy vistas and formations that not many get to see, trails that are on and off the beaten path, and camping.