Bitter Ridge, near Lake Mead

pics by Harlan W. S.
Feb 28, 2009


This hike is about 9 miles round trip, with ~3100’ accumulated elevation gain.  A slight narrative is at the end of the page.  This hike would be hot as Hell in late spring, summer and early fall. There is no trail, and no water.  Don’t go if Las Vegas temperatures are projected to get above 75F, unless there are extenuating circumstances (wind, cloudy skies).



The dirt road starts about 1 mile W of Redstone picnic area; it drops over a berm, and there is a rather inconspicuous sign on the N side of the road.


We went clockwise, first over the ridge, back to the car via the wash.


Bitter Ridge is composed of tan, rather thinly bedded limestones, with strata separated (possibly) by algal bedding. These are relatively young limestones (~14 my) deposited in lakes created by the Miocene Basin and Range Orogeny.  To the W are the much older, gray Paleozoic limestones that make up Muddy Peak.



Symbols: light brown Thb= Bitter Ridge; purple to pink at left are the Paleozoic rocks of Muddy Mts.; Green denotes the reddish Aztec sandstone in Hidden Valley.

Maps from USGS open file report 2007-1010 (Beard et al.)


Here we are at the park spot.  You can see the top of the 500’ cliff – 1000’ higher than our current position – from this “backside” view.


The intrepids start up; class 2 at worst.


Our 1st peak.  In the far distance is our eventual destination, the high point and last peak of this ridge.






View NNE.  Bonelli is in the far distance, middle; the Redstone Peaks are at R.






The edge is often overhung with sharp pieces of limestone.  The limestone is very frictional, and clinks like broken porcelain as you walk over it.



View across Bowl of Fire to Lake Mead.





Wilson is in the distance at far L; CP is on the ridge; Muddy at R.


DB and CP energize.


In the distance are the gray, Paleozoic limestones of Muddy Mt.






Our destination – the sharp tan peak at left – is still a ways off!













OK, so maybe some stretches are class 2+.  DB shows the route to Lorraine, who doesn’t really want to look. Sentinel is right under DB’s pack.


DB heads to the NEXT saddle; Muddy in background.






The flat-topped mesa in the background is Fortification Hill.







Looking back ENE at the lumps we’ve covered so far.







Final view of Lumps to ENE! The sunny tan lump at far R is what most people call “Bitter Ridge”; yet it is not marked so on the map, but is made of the same type rocks.


To the SW, the rocks of Bitter Ridge Formation continue, but there is an immense drop-off where the ridge is cut by a deep canyon/wash.





Lorraine and DB.


Everyone else is overdressed.  Arrogance!


Lorraine hit her stride on the walk out in the wash.  Muddy Peak is in the background.




DB, CP, and CP’s mom (Lorraine) picked me up Saturday near the Food4Less on Nellis, and we headed out to find  a decent 10.1 mile gravel road to nowhere. Earlier, CP had hinted that his mom was in good cardiovascular shape, but was a bit leery of exposure.  So we thought Bitter Ridge, which goes at worst as class 2, might be the ticket.  I was surprised to learn that on Friday, they had done an 18 mile hike over Booth Pinnacle and Pyramid; certainly she couldn’t have that much fear of heights… but ah, wouldn’t those 18 miles be showing today?  Well anyway, Lorraine did great, including a very fast walk down the last wash; till 0.6 miles from the car, she began limping.  She took off her running shoes to reveal one of the nastiest-looking toenail-blister combos I had ever seen.  There were some interesting and friendly mother-son exchanges, and I had to conclude that Lorraine is a real trooper. (DB is also a trooper, but we already knew that.)


There were great view S to Sentinel and the Redstone Peaks… and somehow I never took those photos.  I was too obsessed with looking up and down the ridge and getting people in photos.


One of the highlight remarks of the day came when CP pointed off and asked if we were looking at “Endless Ridge” – a locally-named peak down by Anniversary Narrows.  DB quipped, “I don’t know, the ridge we are on seems pretty endless to me.”  I guess you had to be there.