Mary Jane Falls in October 2016
Something like eight years ago or so, my father and I drove up the road to Mount Charleston near Las Vegas. It was a very beautiful drive, though being December, there was snow surrounding us. I knew there were waterfalls in the area, but there would be absolutely no way to see the falls.
So after heading to Las Vegas to visit a close friend of mine, he mentioned that it had just rained in the mountains the day before. It seemed like an ideal time to check out Mary Jane Falls now that one could actually walk to the falls without snow blocking the way.
The drive is still beautiful, and the hike was equally as beautiful. It’s not as easy of a hike as some might lead you to believe. The first half or so of the 1.5-mile (one-way) hike is on relatively level ground…it’s the second half that’s uphill switchbacks that you begin to feel the effects of the altitude change. (You’re going from 2000 to 7500′ along the drive.)
Luckily, it’s not a long hike, so just when you’re about ready to give up, you realize you’re at the falls. Now early October probably isn’t the best time to hope the falls will be wildly flowing… Even with rain in the mountains, we’re talking about a moderate trickle. It might not look like there’s any water in the photo here, but there’s actually more than appears. The wind was blowing just enough at times that where the water would fall would vary.
I would absolutely consider visiting again in late spring. I could also see visiting in the summer just to escape the heat, and in the fall, the changing colors of the trees are equally as stunning.
- Take US-95 north out of Las Vegas.
- Turn left on NV-157, which is clearly marked as heading toward Mt. Charleston.
- Drive along Mt. Charleston until you’re nearing the peak. (If you go to far, you have to turn around at some point.)
- Turn right onto Echo Road. Drive to the end of Echo Road to a parking area.
- Take a left and turn onto the dirt road that leads to the parking area for Mary Jane Falls. (You can also walk from the previous parking area mentioned.)
- Follow the trail to the falls. About halfway, you do have to veer to the right and start going up the switchbacks.
Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Height: ~100′ (?)
Hike: ~3 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Mary Jane Falls?
I love finding waterfalls in geographic locations that don’t necessarily conjure up the thought of waterfalls. I’ve mentioned before that Nevada is one of those places for me. There are waterfalls for those who look, though! There are a number in the area near Las Vegas (including First Creek and Lost Creek Falls), and one of my followers let me know about waterfalls in Lamoille Canyon near Elko (which I have added to my list of places to visit). If you live in the Reno/Carson City area, there are a few waterfalls near the cities, including the previously mentioned Hunter Creek Falls. In Carson City, there is also Kings Canyon Falls, a small, but beautiful and easy-to-visit waterfall.
It’s a very easy drive outside of Carson City’s downtown area (though you are still officially in Carson City based on boundaries). At the parking area, you hike up mildly steep switchbacks for just over 1/4 of a mile to reach the falls. After hiking almost 6 miles round trip in warmer conditions to see Hunter Creek Falls earlier that day, the short hike in the cool shade of the evening was very enjoyable. (I was a bit cold, actually!) It’s not a big waterfall, about 30′ or so, but it’s worth a detour. In late May, there was water flowing, though it might dry up as it gets warmer in July and August. When it’s flowing, though, I’m guessing it’s rather popular, as there were a surprising number of people hiking to the falls.
- In Carson City, the main road running north/south is NV-529.
- The road that leads to the falls starts of as West King Street, but it doesn’t directly connect with NV-529. You first have to turn on a street running parallel to it (W Musser if coming from the north or W 2nd Street if coming from the south would work), and then you turn left or right on a road such as S Curry Street to get to West King Street. (Convoluted, I know…) Then turn heading west onto West King Street. (It helps to look at a map or have a GPS here.)
- Just keep going west along W King Street. It turns into Kings Canyon Road (which is also numbered as National Forest Road 39). You don’t keep driving on this road until it ends, but instead stop at the parking area for the falls, just under 3 miles from NV-529. This area is rather large, and there is signage indicating you’re in the correct area. (You shouldn’t be driving very far along dirt road…It’s mostly paved.)
- Hike to the falls. There was a dirt path with switchbacks that led up to the falls. (There may be another route that also leads to the falls.)
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, mildly steep, but short!)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip
Kings Canyon Falls in late May 2013
Where in the World is Kings Canyon Falls?