After discussing the Calico Hills last week, I received an e-mail that asked me if I knew what the best hike was to do in Red Rock Canyon National Conversation Area. I personally hate answering what the “best” hike is for any area. As I’ve discussed before – the “best” hike in my opinion, is the one that you want to do, which varies for all sorts of people. My second problem with the question was that I’m not that familiar with the area. Sure, I’d been there, and sure, I’d written that blog, and sure, I knew some recommendations, but, the “best” hike? I could name the best hike for a lot of places, but not that place easily. But, fortunately, I didn’t need to have personal knowledge: I had the internet.
Even better than having the internet, I had a good source on the internet: Jim Boone’s site, http://www.birdandhike.com/index.htm. Full disclosure: I’ve never met Jim, spoken to him, nor do I have any interest in his site. In fact, in an age, where a majority of people are promoting their own work (myself included) it may seem strange for me to promote another person’s work. But let’s think about this rationally – who’s the best expert on local hikes in each area? Locals. It’s so self-evident; it almost doesn’t even need saying (although since I’m so smarts, I mentioned this the other day). But, at times it does, especially when research about hiking is involved. If there happens to be a local who has a website, these are the best resources for finding out about things if you are visiting an area. Case in point, if I need information about Death Valley that I don’t know, I’d probably go to Steve Hall’s website (as I linked to in those postings). For the Mojave and Las Vegas, if I don’t know it, I know where I’d go: http://www.birdandhike.com/index.htm. I’ve received plenty of good information from it, especially before my initial trip to Red Rock Canyon. So, that’s what I did: I passed along good information that I knew; and I also recommended this hike here for any level of hikers in Red Rock Canyon, as I found it to be the most accessible hike for all skill levels.
Directions: Red Rock Canyon NCA is located off of Highway 159, and is approximately a half hour drive from downtown Las Vegas (the strip). The park is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and at this point in time, if you are going to enter the park from the Scenic Drive entrance (which this hike is located off of), there is a $7.00 day use fee. From the park entrance, the turnoff is halfway across the scenic drive. At this halfway point, you will see a well-signed road marked, “Willow Spring Road”. Turn right on this road and head North for .2 miles, at which point you will see a parking area, pit toilet, and signs for the trailhead. The trailhead leaves directly from the parking lot, and is well signed.
Did I mention this was a hike for all ages and skill levels? It is. It is short, and it is a great introduction to desert terrain, and the terrain of Red Rock Canyon NCA. It is such a good introduction, the BLM has produced a discovery guide with corresponding markers along the trail, and if you are a child (or have a child-like sense of wonder toward the world, as I do), you can check out the link to the BLM program below that is part of their Junior Ranger program. Another interesting thing about this trail is that the terrain present in it is completely different than that found in the Calico Hills. For starters, the distinctive bands of Aztec Sandstone present by the Calico Hills are not present on the Lost Canyon hike, and what rock you do find is a type of limestone.
From the trailhead, however, the trail goes across a flat wash before heading up into some Ponderosa Pines and sagebrush, and passes by the remnants of some Native American sites which are blocked off by fences and BLM signs.
Past these sites, the trail takes a couple short turns before heading down a series of stone steps back into the wash. During the dry season, this is the only potential spot you could get lost, as the trail mingles with the wash; but both the wash and the trail leads you to the same spot: the base of Lower Lost Creek Falls. You will know if you are on the trail, however, if you pass through a narrow grouping of boulders that has formed a short “cave/tunnel” which you will pass through before arriving at the base of the fall.
Now, before I receive a number of e-mails stating that there is no waterfall, you should know that this waterfall is a seasonal waterfall, and is fed by snowmelt from higher elevations. So, if it is a dry year, there may not be any waterfall. Or, if it is a wet year, the waterfall and wash may be full of water. Chances are, the later in the year you go on this hike, the less likely the waterfall is to be flowing. When I visited this year, there was just a slight trickle heading down the black section of rock where the waterfall flows. Once you are done checking out the waterfall – or lack thereof, follow the trail back down to where it forks, and follow the other loop over the boardwalk and back across the wash for an easy .7 mile roundtrip distance. This is a great hike, and a great introduction to the park, or a great getaway from the helter-skelter nature of Las Vegas, if you’re a local.
More Information: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/nv/field_offices/las_vegas_field_office/red_rock/lost_creek_trail_booklet.Par.5571.File.tmp/Lost%20Creek%20booklet.pdf, http://www.birdandhike.com/Hike/Red_Rocks/Lost_Cr_L/_Lost_Cr.htm