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Red Spring Boardwalk Trail, Calico Basin
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Spring Boardwalk, Calico Basin
Red Spring Boardwalk
Signs on boardwalk - help protect your meadow!

Overview

The Red Spring, or Calico Basin, Boardwalk is a delightful and fully accessible hike in the Calico Basin area of Red Rock Canyon NCA. The boardwalk is not on the Scenic Loop Drive, and there is no charge to use the area.

The 0.5-mile boardwalk loop starts in a picnic area, switchbacks gently up a hillside beneath towering Velvet Ash trees, and then makes a wide loop around an alkali meadow to Red Spring, which is at the far side of the meadow from the top of the hillside. Shaded benches provide pleasant places to watch swallows flying over the meadows, and signs provide information about the area.

Link to map.

calico basin

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly safe, even for kids. However, the boardwalk is elevated, so take care not to step off the side. I once backed up and stepped right off the boardwalk while trying to photograph a bird. I fell into the mud with quite a thud -- but I kept the camera clean!

The meadow harbors the rare Alkali Mariposa Lily, so please stay on the trail so as not to trample the delicate vegetation.

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

calico basin

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes from town, but not in the Scenic Loop fee area.

Drive out West Charleston Blvd, turn right towards Calico Basin, then drive into the Red Spring Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead. The parking area closes at sunset, so don't stay too late and get locked in.

calico basin

The Hike

From the parking area, the concrete trail runs through the picnic area to the wooden boardwalk (Table 2, Waypoint 01). The boardwalk switchbacks up a marshy hillside, then forks at the top of the hill. The loop begins here, so wander in either direction and enjoy the scenery. Red Spring (Wpt. 02) is under the trees at the far side of the meadow from where the trail forks. Be sure to look for petroglyphs along the trail at the base of the red sandstone cliffs (Wpt. 03).

calico basin Before the boardwalk was installed and people were kept away from the spring, there was very little vegetation around the spring because people trampled everything to death.
Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring emerges from a short tunnel in the sandstone - summer
Red Spring Boardwalk, Calico Basin
Red Spring emerges from a short tunnel in the sandstone - winter
Red Spring Boardwalk
The boardwalk runs past petroglyphs at this point
Red Spring Boardwalk Trail
Fall colors at Red Spring
Red Spring Boardwalk Trail
Fall colors at Red Spring
Red Spring Boardwalk Trail
Fall colors at Red Spring
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk Red Spring Boardwalk
Red Spring Boardwalk
No trail this way
more to come ...

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 Red Spring Trailhead 642280 4001130 3,600 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Red Spring 642181 4000923 3,735 0.16 0.16 GPS
03 Petroglyphs 642148 4001018 3,714 0.07 0.23 GPS
01 Red Spring Trailhead 642280 4001130 3,600 0.23 0.46 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140926

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