Most of the focus at the Red Rock Canyon National Recreation Area surrounds the 13-mile Red Rock Loop and the Calico Basin. There are several ways to approach Oak Creek Canyon, located just southwest of the Red Rock loop. For this hike, the trailhead on state route 159 was used. This route follows the old Oak Creek Canyon 4×4 road.
Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead
This old road makes the hiking very easy for the first mile. The parking for the trailhead is not developed, but it is clearly marked and often other cars are parked just off the road. Begin the hike by slipping through the animal guard at the entrance. This is a desert environment where the lack of vegetation and gentle rise makes for marvelous long views in every direction. Up the trail, several hundred feet, is a sign board and blockage to prevent motorized travel on this old road. The sign lists the distance to Oak Creek Canyon as two and one-half miles.
Passing through this second fence, the path is straight, wide, with a very gentle uphill grade although the rocks that make up the former road can present a hazard and it is easy to roll an ankle. The trail provides almost no shade in this section. Normal precautions for desert hikes should be taken. A hat, sunscreen, and water should be a part of the equipment for this hike.
As the trail begins to turn and ascend, watch the vegetation change. The Wilson Cliffs begin to provide some shade, if not for the hiker, at least for the vegetation. The trail ascends a second time and the direction of the hike is now more northerly. A third rise really shows the vegetation change. The creek channels recently changed by a rock slide indicate that there is more moisture available here.
Oak Creek Canyon
Next, the hiker descends into the Oak Creek drainage area. The trail divides into a great many paths. Explore any of the trail options. They all will lead the hiker across the dry creek beds and on to the main trail up Oak Creek Canyon. Here the trail is parallel to the creek which often has water and into the coolness of the canyon.
The hike to join the Oak Creek Canyon trail is about two and a half miles. The hiker can explore the canyon enjoying the boulders and steep slopes of the canyon walls as a part of the hike. The return can be made more quickly since it is a descent and the trail the hiker prefers has already been chosen. Each diversion of the trail can add to the enjoyment, so take the time to enjoy many of these opportunities along the hike.
Many hikes are available within a short drive of Las Vegas. Enhance a visit by trying some of the many different ways to explore the beauty of the desert and mountains. Either the Spring Mountains or the Desert National Wildlife Refuge can provide many options for any level hiker. They can be enjoyed in any season of the year.