The Fracture Ridge Trail is a very difficult primitive trail that connects with the #403 Park Peak Trail and takes you 3.5 miles to the Fracture Ridge summit at 4,904 feet, for a 7 mile roundtrip hike from the Shadow Canyon Trailhead. The Fracture Ridge Trail is considered an “off-trail” hike by the BLM, and it uses an unofficial social trail, and significant portions of the trail are not well marked. The hike requires you to find your way through large clusters of large volcanic boulders along the narrowing ridge line of Fracture Ridge. As such, only experienced hikers should attempt the Fracture Ridge Trail. The scenery on the Fracture Ridge Trail is beautiful, and the summit rewards hikers with excellent 360 degree views.
From the Shadow Canyon Trailhead, the first 2.1 miles to Fracture Ridge are on the moderate and well traveled #403 Park Peak Trail. While the Black Mountain #404 Trail to the Black Mountain summit is a half mile longer and 160 feet higher in elevation than the trail to the Fracture Ridge summit, I find that it takes me longer to hike the Fracture Ridge Trail. The Fracture Ridge Trail takes longer because once you depart from the #403 Park Peak Trail, the trail becomes less defined, and requires you to focus on your whereabouts more than the well travelled Black Mountain #404 Trail. From the #403 Park Peak Trail, the Fracture Ridge Trail requires you to climb 1,343 feet over 1.35 miles to get to the summit.
The Fracture Ridge Trail uses an extremely difficult primitive trail, and only experienced hikers in excellent physical condition should attempt this hike. Before attempting to hike the Fracture Ridge Trail, please make sure that you are prepared and are following the guidelines for hiker safety. Due to the primitive nature of the Fracture Ridge Trail, it is highly recommended that you use a GPS device on this hike. If you are planning to use a smartphone, first make sure that it is fully charged and that your smartphone can work without cellular coverage or mobile data coverage. You should add the GPS waypoints outlined below into your GPS device before you leave the for the trail. You should also use your GPS device to track your route while traveling on the Fracture Ridge Trail.
Map of the Fracture Ridge Trail
Waypoint 1 – Shadow Canyon Trailhead (N 35.94513° W 115.08158°)
The hike begins at the Shadow Canyon Trailhead in the Sun City Anthem neighborhood in Henderson. To find the trailhead, you can enter 2268 Shadow Canyon Drive Henderson, NV 89044 enter your GPS/Google Maps (which is the home next to the trailhead). There are not bathrooms at the trailhead. There is limited parking, so it is not uncommon for hikers to park on Shadow Canyon Drive.
The first half mile of the hike is on a paved trail that provides access to several different trails in the area.
Waypoint 2 – Right Turn Up to Cinder Block Structure (N 35.94034° W 115.07834°)
After you have traveled .4 miles on the paved trail take the paved trail to the right that takes you up towards the power lines and the cinder block structure.
Waypoint 3 – Cinder Block Structure (N 35.93949° W 115.07767°)
After you have traveled .49 miles you will reach the cinder block structure. Before passing the structure, turn right and pick up the beginning of the #403 Trail on the west side of the structure. You will see a switchback trail going southwest and up towards the power lines.
Waypoint 4 – Cross Utility Road (N 35.938207° W 115.078301°)
Once you reach the power lines at the top of the hill, you will arrive at the utility road. Cross the utility road and continue on the #403 Trail. From here, it’s just under one mile until you reach the clockwise loop portion of the hike. The trail goes along a ridge with nice views of Anthem Highlands to the west and Black Mountain to the east. The trail will take you down into a valley just before reaching the loop portion of the trail.
Waypoint 5 – Starting the Clockwise Loop (N 35.928215° W 115.069621°)
After traveling 1.7 miles from the Shadow Canyon Trailhead, and .9 miles from Waypoint 4, you will reach the loop portion of the #403 Trail. You should follow the loop clockwise, heading east (to the left) to ascend the eastern slope of Park Peak and take you to the beginning of the Fracture Ridge Trail.
Waypoint 6 – Intersection with the #402 Connector Trail (N 35.927946° W 115.067774°)
After just 585 feet, you will reach the intersection of the #403 Trail and the #402 Connector Trail. The #402 Connector Trail links the Black Mountain #404 Trail and the #403 Park Peak Trail. Continue on the #403 Trail to the right towards Park Peak.
Waypoint 7 – Turn left onto the Fracture Ridge Trail (N 35.925690° W 115.066106°)
After you reach the top of the first set of switchbacks, you may notice cairns on the left of the trail marking the beginning of the Fracture Ridge Trail. the cairns are not always present, so be on the lookout for a trail on the left of the trail. There is another older and less traveled trail leading up Fracture Ridge about .20 miles further on the #403 Trail, and the two trails will intersect and become one at the next waypoint.
As you head up the first portion of the Fracture Ridge Trail, the trail is steep and your heart will be pumping. You must make sure that you maintain your awareness and follow sometimes not well defined trail. For the next two waypoints, the trail does not follow the ridge line. Rather, the trail takes a path south (to your right) of the ridge line in order to avoid the large volcanic boulder outcroppings that exist along the ridge line for a good portion of the trail.
Waypoint 8 – Trail Junction (N 35.92369° W 115.06423°)
After you have traveled roughly .2 miles, and ascended 300 feet in elevation, on the Fracture Ridge Trail, a trail will intersect with the Fracture Ridge Trail on the right (south) of the trial. This is the older and less used trail mentioned earlier. Continue east on the Fracture Ridge Trail.
The trail will continue on the south side of the ridge line through rocky volcanic terrain. This portion of the trail contains some of my favorite Joshua Trees in the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. Before you reach the next waypoint in .80 miles, the trail will level off in an area of cream colored soft and sandy volcanic soils. While the terrain is easier on your legs, it can be difficult to follow the trail to the next waypoint.
Waypoint 9 – Follow Rocky Ridge Line (N 35.92296° W 115.05102°)
After you have traveled approximately 1 mile, and ascended nearly 900 feet, on the Fracture Ridge Trail, the ridge line narrows considerably and the trail takes you much closer to the center of the ridge line. The terrain on the trail also becomes considerably rocky, which requires you to circumvent various large outcroppings of large volcanic boulders. The trail is difficult to discern from here to the summit. At no point should you ever be next to a steep drop while ascending toward the summit. If you find yourself in an area with a steep drop, you not following the right path, and you should immediately move away from this area and find a safer path.
Waypoint 10 – Trail to the Summit (N 35.92215° W 115.04475°)
Just before you reach the summit you will find a short trail just past the last rock outcropping. You may also notice the primitive trail on the right side of the trail from the south. I’m uncertain where this trail leads, but I have heard of hikers making the trek from the peak to the south of Fracture Ridge to the Fracture Ridge summit.
Waypoint 11 – Fracture Ridge Summit (N 35.92222° W 115.04453°)
After hiking 3.5 miles, and ascended 1,918 feet, from the Shadow Canyon Trailhead you will be rewarded with breathtaking views on the Fracture Ridge summit. At the summit, you will find a small rock circle put together by other hikers and a small canister with a trail register. Sometimes you will also find an American flag at the summit, but the flags never seem to last long with the strong winds that can occur on Fracture Ridge. Please be careful around the summit as there are steep drops surrounding the summit.
The summit provides excellent views of the Eldorado Valley and Colorado River Mountains to the east, Black Mountain to the north, the Las Vegas Valley to the west, and the southern portion of the North McCullough Range to the south. The North McCullough Range is comprised of a series of ancient volcanoes that were created from the south to the north. After the volcano the makes up Fracture Ridge was formed, another volcano was formed to create Black Mountain to the north.
Retrace Your Route to Waypoints 10 to 1 to Return to the Shadow Canyon Trailhead
After you have enjoyed the Fracture Ridge summit, you will need to make the 3.5 mile journey back to the Shadow Canyon Trailhead on the same path that you came in on. As the path may be uncertain at times, you can use your GPS device to assist you to stay on the safe path that you used to ascend to the summit. At no point should you ever be next to a steep drop while descending from the summit. If you find yourself near a steep drop, retrace your steps to find a safer path.
Waypoint 12 – Take Right Fork in the Trail (N 35.937034° W 115.078704°)
Shortly before you reach the clearly visible power lines, there is a fork in the trail to the left, which heads toward the Anthem Highlands neighborhood. Take the right (east) fork and continue on the to the power lines ahead (north) of you.
The End – The Shadow Canyon Trailhead (N 35.94513° W 115.08158°)
Once you reach the Shadow Canyon Trailhead you have completed the 6.9 mile Fracture Ridge Trail.