‘Incomprehensible’ damage to Mt. Charleston trails, repairs await federal funding

“Incomprehensible” damage to popular Mt. Charleston trails, repairs await federal funding
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 12:16 AM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - Federal officials called the extensive damage to popular Mt. Charleston trails “incomprehensible,” and the timeline for any reopening’s could hinge on Congress paying for repairs.

A spokesperson with the U.S. Forest Service said they are working to keep eager visitors informed of the devastation. Federal authorities have been tweeting and sharing photos of damaged trails and campsites on “X,” and shared more insight in a news release Saturday. An image of the popular Mary Jane Falls trail shows what appears to be a ten-foot high trench running through the ground.

A post on “X” described the state of the Cathedral Rock trail: “the trail is 70% inaccessible w/ significant gaps & rubble strewn across or near the trail,” the post said.

There is an active federal order barring members of the public from coming up the mountain or any trails; only residents, Nevada Department of Transportation crews, federal employees or other essential workers are permitted.

The ground is described as “unstable” and potentially unsafe for first responders; if a hiker become lost or hurt, it would be a challenge for first responders to reach people, the spokesperson said.

Surveys of the damage and repair estimates are being conducted, right now; after requests are submitted, it could be up to Congress to help pay for extensive repairs. It is also a challenge for crews to bring equipment up the mountain to damaged areas.

FOX5 reached out to Nevada’s senators for comment on Congressional support.

“We’re working with federal and state officials to ensure Nevada receives the federal resources necessary to mitigate the impacts of Tropical Storm Hilary,” said Sen. Jacky Rosen in an email statement.

“Senator Cortez Masto will continue to work with the state and county to make sure Mt. Charleston has the federal disaster assistance it needs to recover and reopen,” according to a statement from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto’s staff.

Mountain resident Jimmy Alderson, otherwise known as the “Mt. Charleston Mountain Man,” has been sharing photos and videos of the scenery for Las Vegas Valley residents to enjoy from afar, who are still not permitted to drive up the mountain.

“My message to Congressional leaders is, don’t forget about Mt. Charleston. Don’t forget about the residents. Don’t forget about the forest. Don’t forget about the people who love the mountain and come up and hike all the time,” Alderson said. “The mountain is the ‘heart,’ in a lot of ways, of the folks who recreate around Vegas,” he said.