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Fossil Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon NCA, Blue Diamond Hill
Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
Trailhead (view south).


The Fossil Trail is one of many trails on the northwest end of Blue Diamond Hill. The Fossil Trail is the west-most trail, and it runs for 2.28 miles from the Cowboy Trail Rides parking area south and up the side of Fossil Ridge to the head of Fossil Canyon and an old mining road. This trail provides relatively easy access to the higher Blue Diamond Hill trails, and it provides great views of the Red Rock Cliffs (Wilson Cliffs) across the valley to the west and the La Madre Mountain Range to the north. At the end of this trail, take one of several routes back down, or hike farther up onto Blue Diamond Hill.

Link to map

Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
Hikers on Fossil Trail (view southeast).

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe hike. The Blue Diamond Hill trails were designed for mountain bikes, so the grades are easy, but you have to watch out for bikers careening down the trail.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
Along the 2005 burn (view southeast).

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes from town, but not on the Scenic Loop Road. Drive out West Charleston Blvd to the Cowboy Trail Rides Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
Along Fossil Canyon (view southeast).

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 1), walk through the gate for 3-4 steps, then turn hard to the right and follow the trail that runs south-southeast around the west side of Fossil Ridge. Two other trails start here, confusing the issue. The Rock Garden Trail runs to the southeast and climbs the toe of Fossil Ridge, and the Fossil Canyon Trail runs more to the east towards the mouth of Cave Canyon.

The Fossil Trail runs south following along a sandy wash, then gradually bends to the southeast and starts climbing onto the side of Blue Diamond Hill, passing a 2005 burn area on the left. The trail runs for 1.04 miles to the lower Cat-N-Hat Trail junction (Wpt. 2) and another 0.19 miles to the Rock Garden Trail junction (Wpt. 3) at the top of Fossil Ridge and overlooking Fossil Canyon. The Fossil Canyon Route is in the bottom of the canyon.

Blue Diamond Hill, Fossil Trail
First Finger Trail junction (view northwest).

Following along the edge of the Fossil Canyon gorge, the trail runs southeast to pass the upper Cat-N-Hat Trail junction (Wpt. 4). Beyond there, the Fossil Canyon is little more than a wash, and the trail follows up along the wash to the First Finger Trail junction (Wpt. 5), which is only a few yards short of the end of Fossil Trail (Wpt. 6) at the Jeep Trail junction.

From the end of the trail, walk back to the trailhead or continue on one of the other Blue Diamond Hill Bike Trails.

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 641052 3998352 3,705 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Junction, Cat-N-Hat Trail (lower) 641654 3997055 4,005 1.04 1.04 GPS
03 Junction, Rock Garden Trail 641888 3997083 4,076 0.19 1.23 GPS
04 Junction, Cat-N-Hat Trail (upper) 642262 3996606 4,254 0.39 1.62 GPS
05 Junction, First Finger Trail 642919 3995982 4,426 0.63 2.25 GPS
06 Junction, Outer Trail 642924 3995944 4,431 0.03 2.28 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2015 Jim Boone; Last updated 120427

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