Popular hiking trail to close for the summer

Hiking trail deadly warning

It's one of the prettiest hikes you'll find out near Lake Mead. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous.

Because of that threat, the Gold Strike Canyon Trail is closing for the season on Sunday.

Hiker David Zito says the trail is nothing like his home of Ottowa, Canada.

“It's new. It's different for us,” said Zito. “Presently, back home, there's about six inches of snow everywhere you step.”

The Gold Strike Canyon Trail is awash with wildflowers. The sharp canyon walls tower on all sides. The trail is a strenuous desert hike to the Colorado River.

“We're giving ourselves three and a half hours,” said Zito.

But time is running out for anyone who wants to follow in his footsteps. The trail closes for the season, this Sunday, April 15.

“We have a lot of visitors, and they don't know the desert environment very well, and they weren't coming fully prepared,” said Chelsea Kennedy, public affairs specialist for Lake Mead Recreation Area.

Park management began closing the trail during the summer months four years ago, after a Henderson teenager died from complications due to heat stroke two weeks after collapsing along the trail.

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Today, warning signs are up, and visitors are reminded to bring one liter of water, per person, per hour.

Hiker Greg Clark knows it's easy to get into trouble in this isolated spot.

“We know our limit,” said Clark. “We saw lots of people on the trail with limited water. We saw one guy, one backpack, so obviously they were sharing.”

While the temperature wasn’t bad on Thursday, it is routinely 15-20 degrees hotter as you get farther down into the canyon. During the summer, when temperatures exceed 110 degrees, fatigue and dehydration come on quickly -- especially in areas where the flat trail gives way to bouldering and climbing.

“I'm only 5 foot 5, and there are portions where I'm doing my full arm reach, rock to rock, to get down those rocks,” said visitor Chelsea Kennedy.

Still, the heat isn't the only issue this year with the Gold Strike Trail. Construction for I-11 is about to reroute traffic, requiring the closure of the trailhead a full month earlier than usual.

As for Zito, he says the trail is different than what he's used to. But on this hike, he's come prepared.

“There's a couple hikes we read about that close for the season because of the weather, and it's something we're used to back home in Canada -- for snow and ice,” said Zito.

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