Hiking the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail

As the holidays were drawing to a close and the prospect of a return to real life began to sink in, my family and I decided it was time for some fresh air. Off we went to Boulder City, where we hiked a portion of the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail.

We accessed the trail near the Alan Bible Visitor Center, located just off US-93. Hemenway Park and downtown Boulder City are a short drive away. At the trailhead, you’ll find a parking lot, restrooms, and a dirt path that leads you up a slight hill. Here you will find a large metal gate. Walk through the gate, and you’re on your way to beautiful views of Lake Mead and impressively large railroad tunnels. (You can also access the trail from the Hoover Dam parking garage.)

Originally, the railroad system helped in the construction of Hoover Dam. Once the dam was completed in 1935, the railroad had served its purpose. It was used sporadically until 1961, and the tracks were removed in 1962.

Along the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, Boulder City.

A tunnel along the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Boulder City, NV | Image by Sarah Vernetti

This trail does not form a loop, so keep in mind that you will be retracing your steps when you return to your car. Even though the railroad tunnel trail is wide and flat, hikers and bicyclists should use caution. There is no guardrail on the side of the trail and the drop-off can be pretty steep in some places.

Along the way, you’ll find plenty of places to take photos of Lake Mead. You’ll also see a few informational signs and benches if you want to sit for a while and enjoy the scenery.

View of Lake Mead from the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. Boulder City, NV

An impressive view of Lake Mead | Image by Sarah Vernetti

The first of the railroad tunnels is located about one mile into the hike. The size of the tunnels is pretty impressive. One of the informational signs along the way explains that the tunnels are over 20 feet tall and have been reinforced in recent years to add stability. The second tunnel comes soon after the first. The entire trail consists of five tunnels and is 3.7 miles one-way.

Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, Boulder City, NV

The tunnels are over 20 feet high and 300 feet in length. | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Be on the look-out for a dose of history while you hike. You’ll see several huge concrete plugs off to the side of the trail that were used in the construction of Hoover Dam and were left behind. A small plaque explains the function of the plugs and includes a picture of them when they were still in use.

When we visited the trail on a weekend afternoon, we saw several other hikers. Helicopters on their way to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead zipped by overhead, and we could hear highway noise in the distance. This is not an isolated nature hike full of peace and solitude. However, it is fascinating and worth a visit.

For a trail map and information on the railroad’s history, visit the National Park Service online.

Safe travels!

Flash Fiction: “Best of 2014″ at Nailpolish Stories

I’m honored that my flash fiction, “Gray Area,” was selected for the Best of 2014 issue at Nailpolish Stories!

If you’re not familiar with Nailpolish Stories, it’s an online flash fiction publication that features stories of exactly 25 words, the titles of which are the names of nail polish colors. Writing in such a short format is a challenge, but I enjoy boiling down a story to it’s most essential elements. After all, in the world of flash fiction, less is more.

As 2014 winds down, I’m proud to say that my fiction is forthcoming in the following publications: 300 Days of Sun, Black Denim Lit, Eunoia Review, Vending Machine Press, and others. And I’m already looking forward to another year of writing adventures!

Thanks for stopping by, happy new year, and safe travels. See you in 2015.

White Domes Trail: Valley of Fire

Who would have thought the coolest hike at Valley of Fire would be the one without bright red rocks?

My family and I were due for a visit to Valley of Fire. Fall and spring are the best times to go, for obvious weather-related reasons, and I always look forward to climbing on rocks, taking photos, and marveling at the fact that I now live in the desert rather than the plains.

Detail, Valley of Fire

Detail along the White Domes Loop, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

On previous trips, we had hiked the Mouse’s Tank trail, marveled at the beehive rock formations, and climbed the stairs to check out the petroglyphs on Atlatl Rock. In an attempt to try something new at a park that we’d visited many times, I did some research and decided that the White Domes Loop would be a good fit: an hour of hiking round-trip and home to plenty of interesting geology. Plus, it was located in a part of the park that we had yet to explore.

To get to the White Domes trailhead, drive toward the northern part of the park. You’ll find parking, restrooms, and picnic tables near the beginning of the trail. Right away, it becomes apparent why this is called “White Domes,” since the rocks look very different from the bright red that encompasses the rest of Valley of Fire.

Trailhead: White Domes. Valley of Fire

Trailhead: White Domes, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

The majority of the trail is sand-covered. There are a few places where it is unclear which way the trail leads, but luckily there are signs to help guide the way.

White Dome Trail, Valley of Fire

A slot canyon along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Remains of a movie set along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire

Remains of a movie set along the White Domes Trail, Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Along the way, the trail will take you through a slot canyon. You’ll also find the remains of a structure that was used as a movie set in the 1960’s. A nearby sign indicates that the fragment is left over from the filming of The Professionals. The rock formations are fascinating, and the caves and crevices look like they could be home to Sand People on Tatooine. (Sorry, had to throw a Star Wars reference in there somewhere. It was either that or The Hills Have Eyes.)

Valley of Fire, White Domes Trail

Colorful rock formations line the trail | Image by Sarah Vernetti

Toward the end of the hike, the White Domes Loop provides a beautiful desert vista, which is the perfect place for a few photos.

A beautiful vista at Valley of Fire | Image by Sarah Vernetti

As with all other trails, the normal words of caution apply at White Domes Loop: arrive prepared with water, a map, snacks, good walking/hiking shoes, sunscreen, etc.

For more information about Valley of Fire, drop by the official Nevada State Parks website.

Happy trails!