Bike Fitness and Biking Skills to Ride the Wetlands Trail in Henderson, Nevada
Biking skills to ride the Wetlands Trail!
Are your biking skills up to the challenge of the Wetlands Trail?
Before making that decision, view my aerial maps with GoPro video clips of the Wetlands bike route, then let me know what you think.
I’m Debra Stefan, 2020 Educator of the Year for the League of American Bicyclists. Learn Smart Cycling to bike safer and more confidently on the road or trail.
Once you see these views of the Wetlands Bike Trail, you’ll know that there is a vast difference in the Wetlands trail on the north side of the Las Vegas Wash. Do not confuse this trail with the Pabco-Wells easy trail on Galleria–the south side of the wash. Don’t confuse it with the 1.5-mile loop at the Wetlands Nature Park, either. Watch and learn.
But before you ride, as a smart cyclist, please have your ID, medical insurance card, emergency contact information and a fully charged cell phone. Here’s where I will insert a brief recommendation clip for managing personal essentials on your bike ride. Since you’re still with me, don’t forget to subscribe and hit the notifications bell icon for future content of this nature.
Wear a helmet, eye protection, gloves, and bring a spare tube, C02 cartridge or a small bike pump. Bring plenty of water to do this ride. I will consume a liter of water on this route and I start hydrating upon arising on the mornings that I ride.
The video bike route starts at Terrazza Park in Lake Las Vegas, Henderson, Nevada. Locals and visitors can rent bicycles and e-bikes at the River Mountains Bike Shop nearby.
For locals choosing to bike to the trail, I’m showing two different routes to get there. Ride from Galleria down Weston Ridge to the Pabco Trail or from Galleria to Terrazza Park in the bike lane on the roadway. A third way shown is on my topographical map where I racked the bikes and drove to the Clark County Wetlands Park trailhead. This starts at mile marker ONE biking out to the 9.5-mile marker at Wells Trailhead by Galleria to bike a round trip. These are the three options covered in this video.
From Terrazza Park (off Galleria) cross the bridge over the Las Vegas Wash into your first and most qualifying climb of the route. This 7-mile stretch of the Wetlands trail has been called a glorified mountain bike trail that’s been paved. You’ll need to ride alert and ready to react to steep descents, blind corners, sharp turns, and abrupt uphill climbs with an overall gain of 1107 feet. Add the unexpected hiker with a dog off-leash, an unauthorized dirt biker, or an ATV and the thrills begin!
Boulder Highway in heavy traffic may be safer or at least more predictable. I’m just saying, don’t take this trail too lightly. On the road, you have the law, but on the trail, you rely on courtesy that other trail users may or may not choose to use.
A cyclist needs full control of bike handling skills without risking a fall on the Wetlands Trail. I’ve seen people fall off the bike at high downhill speeds and I’ve seen them fall uphill from losing momentum. One student shared his leg-breaking experience falling up a steep hill and jamming his leg through the frame on a solo ride. You’ll see this hill pictured in the video. Another dangerous hill pictured is the steep descent with a blind corner. One day, I met a cyclist as he faced the scene of his accident there. He described his uncontrollable downhill speed, encountering an off-leash dog at the blind corner. This caused him to bike off the cliff into the Wash unconscious before waking up hospitalized from a coma.
So, be prepared with the skill and physical fitness to take on this Wetlands Bike trail route. Even if you are on an electric-assisted bicycle, you still need handling skills to bike safely and confidently.
In this video, I’m sharing two different routes to access the Wetlands Trail. First, I biked from the Pabco Trailhead passing the Wells Trailhead along Galleria, then to Terrazza Park to start to the actual Wetlands Trailhead. According to the Clark County Wetlands Park mile markers, the trail starts at the Wetlands Nature Park (north of the stadium) and ends with the 9.5-mile marker at the Wells Trailhead. There is a noticeable difference in the skill and exertion required on the north side of the wash and the south side by Galleria.
Crossing the wetlands bridge from Terrazza Park begins 7 miles of the Wetlands Trail heading west to the bridge at the Wetlands Nature Park route completes the 9.5-mile distance from the Wells Park trailhead. It can be biked as an “out and back” (elevation gain of 605 feet) or like I’ve shown, the vehicular cycling option on the roadway. This is how I completed my solo round trip shown here on the aerial view. From the Clark County Wetlands Park, take Broadbent to Boulder Highway to Galleria and head east again.
Note: Some years ago, LVMPD advised cyclists to avoid the return loop at Sunrise Trailhead for the continuous uncontrolled activity. Since there are still graffiti signs on this section, I don’t take this loop. Also, the trail connection isn’t paved and at one point you need to walk your bike past “pedestrian only” poles. For these reasons, I don’t consider this a “loop” trail but an out-and-back route.
So there you have my favorite options. Bike a round trip from start to end or double back or make a loop using the roadway.
Disclaimer: A lesson in vehicular cycling is highly recommended so that you know how to bike predictably and be conspicuous to motorists sharing the roadway. Have I mentioned the Smart Cycling course?
Are your biking skills up to the challenge? CTA for Bicycle Educators to Share with Cycling Communities!
Henderson cyclists and biking visitors revere the River Mountains Loop Trail and they FEAR the Three Sisters Hill Climbs.
Ask any local cyclist and you’ll learn that most fear the challenge of the Three Sisters. In fact, most cyclists ride it clockwise for the thrill of a fast descent. The primary goal is biking for weight loss. The route for today is an introductory approach going Counterclockwise.
The goal is biking for weight loss. Hill climbing is an intense metabolic blast like no other. It’s as intense as you can tolerate until you can’t tolerate it. Then you catch your breath enough to continue. Recovery is brief as well as interspersed with bouts of all-out effort.
Here’s an aerial map of our route. Here comes my virtual ride of the Three Sisters bike route with GoPro giving you the breathtaking details.
The story behind the bike ride: An enthusiastic biking student shows a true commitment by turning up at my place a little after sunrise. She was curious and motivated after viewing last week’s bike route video in my series on Henderson bike trails. Inspired by the first video on The Three Sisters Bike Trail challenge, she found the “warm-up” hills. After that, she texted me saying that that she had done the Three Sisters! I was finding it hard to believe that a local cycling student could head out on a solo mission to take on such a biking challenge. We had only gone through the basics of Smart Cycling and she hadn’t gotten to learn the gear shifting protocols for hill climbing yet.
So, I pulled up her route map on MapMyRide, the app where we share our bike rides. As I suspected, she hadn’t gotten near the Three Sisters at all. Driven as she would be to find the real “sistas” I promised to introduce her to this highly regarded section of the Henderson Bike trail system. After all, I am the trail watch “ambassador” working to aid trail users in the most positive experience to be had on the Henderson trails. I couldn’t tempt someone to take on the challenge alone.
The Three Sisters were formidable and remote. Depending on the day and time, there may not be another cyclist coming by to help her is anything happened. A cyclist needs full control of bike handling skills without risking a fall out there. I’ve seen people fall off the bike at high downhill speeds and I’ve seen them fall uphill from losing momentum. One student shared his leg-breaking experience falling up a steep hill and jamming his leg through the frame on a solo ride. I certainly didn’t want to feel responsible for such a mishap and I knew she was going to find the Three Sisters, with or without me. She’s eager for the challenge.
Once out of the neighborhood, we ride in the bike lane for the first in a series of climbs on Olsen. Crossing Lake Mead Parkway to the Athens gets us to the trail. First, we warm up on the Lake Mead Parkway Trail east of Athens.
“Good morning, legs!”
One more climb just to be sure. After that, we are at the highest summit on Lake Mead Parkway with a view of the Las Vegas Valley. Okay, she’s qualified! We’re heading to the first sister now.
As you can tell by my breathing indeed, it’s a bit of a climb just to get to the base of the first sister.
Now, starts the steep ascent of Sister One. I’ll be downshifting as well as zigzagging! Hang on for a virtual ride that lasts one minute.
Tourists rent bikes and head for these hills to say they’ve done the Three Sisters. Motivated by last week’s video feature on the Three Sisters Henderson Bike trail, she was determined to conquer the first “Sister.”
Here’s how it happened on GoPro. Just watch over my handlebars and ride along with us. It’s a ride that is right here in southeast Henderson. It’s also the Bike Challenge Most Feared – The Three Sisters (Counterclockwise!)
Debra is a fitness speaker/educator, group fitness instructor, certified personal trainer, jump rope coach, and master yoga teacher with professional fitness experience since 1971. Her fitness courses received university accreditation and professional development for educators. She is the 2020 Educator of the Year for the League of American Bicyclists. Outdoor biking is a year-round daily activity at the Debra Stefan Fitness Residence. Six-pack seekers to seniors and morbidly obese find the private fitness residence to be "home away from home." See Debra's VegasFitness1 YouTube video channel for actual client adventures in the pursuit of wellness. https://www.youtube.com/vegasfitness1