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Hiking Trails In Red Rock Canyon                                                 (Click on the major trail names on the map to see photos)
Calico Tanks Photos Calico Hills Photos Visitors Center Willow Springs Photos Ice Box Canyon Photos Pine Creek Canyon Trail Photos Oak Creek Canyon Photos First Creek Trail Photos Lost Creek Discovery Trail Photos Red Rock Canyon NCAThe hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon range from the challenging to the easy making this a popular place for both experienced hikers and those who are just out for a walk. The best known set of trails are the trails along the Scenic Drive. The Scenic Drive is in the BLM fee area that covers the northern part of the Red Rock valley. There  are a total of 22 listed trails in this area. The variety of terrain, geology, plants and animals found along these trails is impressive. Some of the trails can take you rock climbing, while others are safe for young children. We have selected the best in our experience for most visitors.

The following descriptions refer to the trails identified in the BLM's Hiking Trail Scenic Drive Vicinity document which is available at The Visitors Center. Based on experience, we use our own descriptions to this list.

1. Moenkopi Loop : 'Triassic fossils' and a Yucca-Blackbrush type flora; 2 miles and very easy. There are some good perspectives of the whole Red Rock valley from this centrally located trail. It begins at the visitor center west of the weather monitoring station. This trail is recommended if you do not have much time and you do not want to drive through the whole Scenic 13 mile loop drive. While this is an easy one, kids might not be too intrigued.

2. Calico Hills : Easy access except for the hike up to either of the two Calico parking lots, this would be a moderate climb. The trail runs along one of the most scenic escarpments anywhere. While part of the trail is pictured at the top, it is difficult to describe the enormity of this escarpment. People becomes dots in the distance against these huge deep red cliffs. All along the way the fossilized sand dunes are visible in their criss-cross relief.

. Calico Tanks : This is more of an area than a trail 2.5 mile trail because you can find tanks or Tinajas wherever the rocks allow water to pool after a rain or snowfall. The guide suggests scrambling and route finding skills for this one and they aren't kidding. It is easy to follow the trail for about a mile. It is marked and there even looks like there is a trail for a while. Not to worry. Whatever path you choose will be interesting and the degree of challenge is completely manageable. This is one of the best trail area that you can wander around in.

There are a few interesting things that you will see at the beginning of the trail. Sandstone Quarry is a spot where sandstone in huge blocks was mined. The cut marks are visible as are a few left behind 'blocks'. There is a prehistoric Agave roasting pit along the side of the trail. This was a spot used by the people who lived here in prehistoric times to prepare the Agave plant for consumption. Unless you want to get to the Turtlehead Peak Trail, you should watch for the markers right after the Agave pit. The Calico Tanks Trails turns east. This will take you through some interesting and beautiful spots. After a rain, the water pools all over the place in the hollowed out natural water basins in the red sandstone.

4. Turtlehead Peak Trail : If you ever have to prove anything to yourself or someone else, this is the place to do it. Do this 5 mile challenge in a hour and you will never have to prove yourself in any other way. It is challenging and you want to go prepared. Decent shoes, long pants and you might want to carefully consider the age of any children you would want to bring. Great vistas and its safe. Very Strenuous. Whew!

5. Keystone Thrust : These are the rocks that made Red Rock Canyon famous with geologists. The Keystone Thrust is a convoluted result of the movements of the earth. We discuss this elsewhere, Keystone Thrust, but that would be the point of this hike. It takes you to a close-up of the Keystone Thrust Fault where the gray limestone meets the reds and yellows of the sandstone. Or you can see it from Las Vegas in the western mountains. It starts at the White Rock Spring parking lot. It loops through some uphill climbing and a canyon. It takes about 45 minutes and the climbs are only moderate.

6. White Rock To Willow Springs : A relatively long trail that takes you by a man made water hole called a guzzler - presumably for the locals - and across the side of a hill. Finally you end up in the Willow Springs area. When you are done wondering why you didn't go to the Willow Springs area in the first place, you get to march back over the same trail.

7. White Rock / La Madre Springs Loop : This 6 mile trail is basically a circumnavigation of White Rock or the White Rock Hills. It can be started from White Rock or if you prefer, Willow Springs. If you are going to do just this trail, the parking at White Rock might be easier. It takes you through a lot. There are petroglyphs, an Agave roasting pit. You get an interesting look behind some of the mountains at Red Rock. Only to find that there are more mountains behind them. Between them are interesting stream beds, canyon and rock formations. Most of the area is 'woodsy' and it is a relatively easy and pleasant hike.

8. Lost Creek Children's Discovery Trail : This is a favorite place to go. It is less than a mile and the water seems to run year round. Although the walkway keeps kids from enjoying it as in the past, it is still an interesting place to take children. This place is a good example of how life in the desert can flourish with just a small amount of water. The 'creek' eventually disappears into the desert  below showing graphically the typical Great Basin mountain stream to desert pattern. This is really the best place to take the kids. It is also a good example of where Red Rock has way too many friends and how to badly mismanage a valuable resource. The dedications on the chairs are really tacky. Just another sign that Red Rock is becoming a city park in some places.

9. Willow Springs Loop : This basically takes you past the Agave pit, petroglyphs and Lost Creek. It's easy and only takes you a few minutes. We should note that the Willows springs area has picnic tables and is itself a great place to do a picnic.

10. La Madre Springs : Same as number 7 but only to the La Madre Springs and back. This could be your backup trail name. If you start on the White Rock / La Madre Springs Loop Trail and you decide to head back from La Madre Springs, you can always say you went on the La Madre Springs Trail.

11. SMYC Trail : This trail follows the sandstone escarpment that runs between Lost Creek and Ice Box Canyon. Very easy and takes about half an hour.

12. Ice Box Canyon : This is a difficult but rewarding trail. In the winter and the spring the water runs through this canyon in small pools that break into tiny waterfalls filling the pools below it. This is a strenuous 3 mile hike over rocks, through rocky creek beds, under huge boulders, and around rocky crevices. You are rewarded at the end with a spectacular pool that is filled by a trickle down what must be a 1000 feet of vertical sandstone cliff.

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