LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – It’s been nearly six months since the remnants of Hurricane Hilary slammed into Mount Charleston leaving some hiking trails damaged so badly, they’re still off-limits.
Now it looks like some of those trails may not open for years.
When Hurricane Hilary hit Mount Charleston it basically cleared out this whole area. Where I’m walking right now is the path of the Mary Jane Falls trail.
It only happened in a matter of hours.
And in those few short hours, Mount Charleston took a very serious hit. Sections of roads were washed away, buildings were flooded, power lines were broken, and the water supply for many of the mountain residents was cut off.
It took months to get the repairs completed, and now eyes are turning to one of the most popular trails on Mount Charleston – Mary Jane Falls. But that trail, as the signs read, is still closed, and for good reason.
“Right behind me the trail was at a level I’m standing. Now it’s ten feet deep.”
Ray Johnson with the U.S. Forest Service says the amount of water that hit the mountain from Hilary as a tropical storm was around eight inches. All that water had a profound impact on the trail. Because of this, the trail will remain closed for years to come.
Johnson tells us, it will take both time and money to bring the area back.
“First we have to get funding and that process may take some time. Then there will be some planning as far as rebuilding and that is looking to be two to 5 years,” he says.
He thinks a study may recommend the trail be altered, so if a storm similar to Hilary ever does hit again, it wouldn’t wash it away. But alteration brings another set of challenges.
“We have a very large amount of threatened and endangered plants and animals and we’d have to make sure none of them would be impacted if we changed the route of the trail,” he tells us.
Johnson says lots of other trails on the mountain are open and available for people to enjoy, but he warns people to stay away from Mary Jane Falls.
“If people are caught it’s a Class B misdemeanor”
And the fine for that could be as high as $5,000.
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