Additional photos coming soon.
The Sheep Range Downhill isn't exactly known as a mountain biking trail. In fact, I made up the name myself. Perhaps others know it by another name, and if you do, please enlighten me. Come to think of it, it isn't really a downhill either because you first have to climb up in order to come down.
This trail is located just north of the Las Vegas city limits, near Shadow Mountain High School. It begins on Bureau of Land Management property and crosses into the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. The trail climbs toward Gass Peak which is the southern-most mountain in the Sheep Range (hence the name). The Desert National Wildlife Refuge encompasses 1.5 million acres and is the largest wildlife refuge in the lower 48 - it was created to protect the desert bighorn sheep. Who would have thought that the largest wildlife refuge outside of Alaska borders Las Vegas?
The trail description directions are extremely simple as this is a linear out-and-back. In fact, you can see the entire trail from where you parked your car. Although it looks fairly straight from down below, there are more twists, turns and bumps than you realize.
Simply hop on your bike and follow the road north. You will immediately drop into a wide wash. Ride through the wash towards the large gravel area directly ahead. The double track "trail" starts after you pass through the gravel area; it is all uphill from here - about 1,000 feet worth. The trail is actually a mountain access road that leads into the Wildlife Refuge. You will soon pass through a gate that prevents motorized vehicles from continuing. Keep going until you reach the top.
The double track you are on is made up of large gravel and small rocks compacted into a road. Some spots are soft and difficult to ride over, especially in the first mile, this isn't a problem on the way down though. In fact, the only reason worth the effort of going up is to come back down even faster.
Once you get towards the top you will see that there is a lot more topography around you than you realized. Large, deep drainage ditches and washes appear out of nowhere. After you catch your breath and take in the unique view of Las Vegas from this elevation, head back down and enjoy the twisty track that even tosses some mogul-like bumps at you.
According to Google Earth:
Substation (parking area) elevation: 2,343 feet
Top of trail elevation: 3,410 feet
Distance from car to top: 3.35 miles
Roundtrip distance: 6.7 miles
Getting ThereFrom Las Vegas:
Drive north on Decatur Boulevard and drive until you run out of road. Actually, the road makes a left hand turn - don't turn left. Continue going straight, following a gravel road and paralleling a Nevada Power substation, which is on the left. Although the road continues past the substation, dropping sharply into a wash, don't keep going. No motor vehicles are allowed beyond this point, and although many do continue driving, it isn't worth a ticket. Park in the open area to the east of the substation.