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Entrance Station to Red Spring Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
 
Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Calico Hills Trail (near Wpt. 02)

Overview

This fairly easy hike follows interconnected trails that run between the Red Rock Entrance Station and the Red Spring Picnic Area. The hike can be done in either direction, but here I describe it as starting at the Entrance Station and following the Calico Hills Trail, then following use-trails to Red Spring. There are two use-trails in the middle-third of the hike, so this part can be done as a "loop." Other use-trails provide various alternatives. The scenery along this route is grand, and it gives nice, close-up views of crags and cliffs on the south end of the Calico Hills.

Link to map or elevation profile.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Canyon at south end of Calico Hills (Wpt. 04)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a fairly easy hike with no unusual hazards. This route is appropriate for young children.

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.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
The Escarpment and Calico Hill (near Wpt. 05)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along the Scenic Loop Road in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes west of Las Vegas. Drive out to Red Rocks, pay the fee, then drive forward and turn left onto the exit road and left again into the Entrance Station Trailhead behind the fee booths. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Alternatively, use the Red Spring Trailhead in Calico Basin.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Calico Hills and huge boulders (near Wpt. 06)

The Hike

From the Entrance Station parking lot (Site 0895), walk across the entrance road to the northeast corner of the 4-way intersection (as if to walk up the Scenic Loop Road). At the corner, the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01) is marked by a Calico Hills Trail System sign that gives mileages to several destinations.

From the trailhead sign (Wpt. 01), the trail angles away from the Scenic Loop Road and runs east across a hillside to an old road (Wpt. 02). The trail turns left onto the old road and runs north towards the Calico Hills, passing a junction (Wpt. 03) with a trail that runs west to the Visitor Center. The trail continues north, climbs onto a ridge, and intersects another old road (Wpt. 04).

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Calico Basin (Wpt. 10)

Atop the ridge are the first views into the deep canyon along the south edge of the Calico Hills. From here (Wpt. 04), the Calico Hills Trail continues to the northwest on the old road. In the opposite direction, the old road runs southeast along the ridgeline. In addition, although hard to see, a use-trail runs almost due east down the hillside into the bottom of the canyon.

The old road to the southeast and the use-trail into the canyon both lead to the Red Spring Picnic Area and provide a bit of a "loop" on the way back.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
End of trail at Red Spring Picnic Area (Wpt. 12)

Turning hard to the right and running southeast on the old road, the route stays atop the ridge, providing good view into the canyon, up along the spine of the Calico Hills, and also south towards Blue Diamond Hill. Farther out along the old road, be sure to look across the canyon and take note of the old roads and use-trails that climb the hillside around the southeast corner of the Calico Hills, as this is where the route will eventually go.

The old road on the ridgeline can be followed until it runs under powerlines and turns north to drop steeply into the canyon, but an easier use-trail cuts off the ridgeline (Wpt. 05) and drops at a more moderate rate to intersect the old road about halfway down the hillside (Wpt. 06).

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Red Spring Picnic Area Parking

Continuing down the hillside on the old road, the route quickly arrives at a T-intersection (Wpt. 07) with an old road that runs up the canyon. Turning to the left and hiking west into the bottom of the canyon, the route crosses the wash and immediately turns north onto another old road (Wpt. 08) and starts to climb out of the canyon.

About halfway up the hillside (Wpt. 09), a use-trail angles off and down to the west. On the way back, this is the start of the "loop."

Continuing up the hillside, the route reaches the top of the ridge (Wpt. 10) with great view north into the Red Spring area and out across Calico Basin to Kraft and other mountains in the distance. A short use-trail leads east to a highpoint with great views.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Trail south out of Calico Basin (near Wpt. 11)

Crossing the ridgeline and continuing down the steep hillside on a broad road scar, the trail reached the flats below and a trail junction (Wpt. 11) that leads through a gate and onto the Red Spring Boardwalk.

Continuing, the use-trail runs around the outside of the fenced boardwalk area and down into the Red Spring Picnic Area (Wpt. 12).

At Red Spring, sit in the shade, listen to the birds in the trees, use the restroom, and relax a bit. When ready to hike back the the Entrance Station, consider starting out on the Red Spring Boardwalk Trail. On the south end of the boardwalk near Red Spring, a spur leads to a gate. Be sure to close the gate to prevent wild burros from getting in an trampling rare plants growing in the meadow.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Calico Hills and huge boulders (near Wpt. 09)

Just beyond the gate, the route follows the old road scar up the hillside to the top of the ridge (Wpt. 10). Several use-trails cut off into the boulders, but it is easier to stay on the old road, bending to the right near the top of the ridge.

Hiking down the south side of the ridge, several use-trails cut off to the right. All of these use-trails lead to the huge boulders in the bottom of the canyon, but it is easier to stay on the old road as it runs down and left, and then bends back to the right. A bit past the bend (about 70 ft), a use-trail crosses the old road (Wpt. 09).

Turn to the right and follow the use-trail down and across the hillside staying to the left (east) of the huge boulders. This area is crisscrossed by use-trails, but find your way across the wash (Wpt. 13) to the one trail on the south side of the wash.

Entrance Station to Calico Basin Trail
Calico Hills Canyon (near Wpt. 14)

On the south side of the wash, the trail runs upstream along the base of the hillside. Through here, there are great views looking up at the towering red and white cliffs of the Calico Hills. At a trail junction (Wpt. 14), the route continues on the south side of the wash and starts climbing out towards the top of the ridge, eventually reaching the Calico Hills Trail (Wpt. 04).

From there, follow the Calico Hills Trail back to the Entrance Station, which can be seen in the distance.

 
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 Entrance Station Trailhead 641874 3999648 3,710 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Turn north 641992 3999730 3,687 0.10 0.10 GPS
03 Trail to Visitor Center 641693 4000348 3,780 0.44 0.54 GPS
04 Trail Junction atop Ridge 641721 4000525 3,817 0.13 0.67 GPS
05 Top of Ridge 642263 4000417 3,758 0.36 1.03 GPS
06 Old Road 642390 4000495 3,672 0.10 1.13 GPS
07 Road Junction 642321 4000595 3,601 0.09 1.22 GPS
08 Wash 642296 4000588 3,605 0.02 1.24 GPS
09 Trail Junction 642306 4000683 3,668 0.06 1.30 GPS
10 Top of Ridge 642250 4000753 3,759 0.07 1.37 GPS
11 Gate to Red Spring 642242 4000927 3,656 0.12 1.49 GPS
12 Red Spring Trailhead 642319 4001153 3,583 0.17 1.66 GPS
11 Gate to Red Spring 642242 4000927 3,656 0.17 1.83 GPS
10 Top of Ridge 642250 4000753 3,759 0.12 1.95 GPS
09 Trail Junction 642306 4000683 3,668 0.07 2.02 GPS
13 Trail Junction 642237 4000591 3,621 0.08 2.10 GPS
14 Trail Junction 642014 4000597 3,639 0.15 2.25 GPS
04 Trail Junction atop Ridge 641721 4000525 3,817 0.21 2.46 GPS
03 Trail to Visitor Center 641693 4000348 3,780 0.12 2.58 GPS
02 Turn north 641992 3999730 3,687 0.44 3.02 GPS
01 Entrance Station Trailhead 641874 3999648 3,710 0.10 3.12 GPS

 
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 120427

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