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Willow Springs Loop Trail - Counter-Clockwise
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Willow Springs Loop
Trailhead at Willow Springs picnic area (view S)

Overview

This nice, 1.1-mile loop trail runs down one side of Red Rocks Wash and back up the other. The scenery is great, the desert vegetation is relatively lush (well, for the desert), there are two springs with riparian vegetation, there are interesting Native American sites along the way, and there is always the chance of seeing bighorn sheep.

This loop can be started at either end and walked in either direction. Here, the route is described as running from Willow Springs to Lost Creek down the west side of the canyon, then looping back on the east side (counter-clockwise). For the opposite direction, see Willow Springs Loop Trail (clockwise).

Link to trail map.

Willow Springs Loop
Trailhead at crosswalk (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe hike if hikers stay on the trail. Watch for cars when crossing the road. Please respect the Native American sites and don't deface them; they are part of the history of this land, and when they are gone, they are gone forever.

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.

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along the Scenic Loop Road in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 1 hour west of Las Vegas. Drive out to Red Rocks, pay the entrance fee, and then drive about half-way around the Scenic Loop Road to Willow Springs Road. Turn right and drive north 0.6 miles to the Willow Springs Trailhead at the end of the pavement. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Willow Springs Loop
Trail sign (view SW)

The Hike

From the Willow Springs Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 21) on the west side of the road a bit back from the end of the pavement, the trail runs south angling downstream and across Red Rock Wash. Across the wash (Wpt 20), the trail climbs through a thicket of Shrub Live Oak Trees, then climbs fairly steeply onto a highpoint (Wpt 19) overlooking the entire Willow Springs area.

From the highpoint, the trail runs south, winding along the hillside and among Singleleaf Pinyon Pine Trees that add variety to the vegetation in this area. Along the way, there are some nice views up and down the canyon.

Eventually the trail descends through a slot between enormous boulders to a trail junction (Wpt. 16) with the Children's Discovery Trail. Turning right, the trail follows the Children's Discovery Trail south as it winds beneath a band of cliffs.

Willow Springs Loop Trail
Trail sign (view SW)

The trail quickly arrives at a Native American rock art site (Wpt 15) behind a pole fence. The overhang at the top of the low rock wall protects faint red marks painted (pictographs) on the rocks from damage by rain and direct sunlight.

Continuing, the trail winds around and under a huge boulder, then quickly arrives at another trail junction (Wpt. 12), this time with the Lost Creek Trail.

Before making the left turn and starting back towards Willow Springs, consider turning right and walking up to Lost Creek Falls (Wpt 22). The canyon narrows, and after a minute or two, the trail crosses Lost Creek beneath an enormous Ponderosa Pine. A park bench invites hikers to sit, relax, and listen to the sounds of the canyon. Past the bench, the trail climbs around and under boulders and quickly arrives at the waterfall at the end of the trail. For details of this trail, see the description of the Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail. When ready, return to the trail junction (Wpt 12).

Willow Springs Loop
Start of the trail (view SW)

Turning left onto Lost Creek Trail, the trail runs about 20 yards to a boardwalk (Wpt. 11) that help hikers get through a wet willow thicket without damaging the delicate habitat or getting one's boots muddy. The boardwalk is a nice place to stop, sit, relax in the shade of the willows, and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Continuing east, the trail exits the boardwalk (Wpt. 10) and descends the rocky hillside into Red Rock Wash (Wpt. 09). In wet years, water flows in the wash, which is always nice to see in the desert. Even in dry years, however, there is enough water deep in the gravel to support thickets of Shrub Live Oak, Desert Willow, Redbud, and other small trees that grow in the wash.

Still continuing east, the trail crosses Red Rock Wash and arrives at another trail junction (Wpt. 08). Here, the SMYC Trail turns right and runs south down the wash, while the Willow Spring Loop Trail continues straight towards the Lost Creek Trailhead (Wpt. 06).

Willow Springs LoopDescending towards Red Rock Wash (view SW)

Still continuing east, the trail crosses Willow Springs Road (Wpt. 05). Look carefully in both directions because with so much grand scenery, drivers won't be watching the road. The trail bends to the left and climbs slightly to arrive at yet another trail junction (Wpt. 04), this time merging with the White Rock Loop Trail.

Running north with the White Rock Loop Trail, the trail runs about 0.3 miles back to the edge of the Willow Springs Picnic Area. Along this section, watch carefully for Bighorn Sheep on the hillside above the trail, as they often are seen close to the trail (sometime between the trail and the road).

The trail runs up along a fenced hillside, then arrives at a concrete walkway. On the right at this point is another cultural site. First, the trail passes an agave roasting pit (Wpt. 03) and then a pictograph site (Wpt. 02) where native peoples painted their hand and did a "high-five" on the rock, leaving behind five handprints for the ages. Signs provide information about the site.

Willow Springs Loop
Trail crosses Red Rock Wash (view SW)

After spending a few minutes reading the signs and contemplating the lives of people who lived here hundreds of years ago, the trail continues up the cement walkway into the picnic area. Adjacent to a restroom, it is easiest to just walk in the roadway back to the trailhead (Wpt. 01), although the official trail wanders through the picnic area to the main restroom building and Willow Spring, proper.

Willow Springs Loop
Trail on oak-covered hillside (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Climbing hillside towards large boulder (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Trail passes large boulder (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Highpoint (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Trail junction to Upper Lost Creek Falls (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Viewpoint (view SE towards landmarks and Las Vegas)
Willow Springs Loop Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs Loop
After sliding between boulders, trail merges with Children's Discovery
Willow Springs Loop
Trail junction (view S along Children's Discovery trail)
Willow Springs Loop
Sign at trail junction (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Approaching a rock art site (view SW)
Willow Springs Loop
Rock art site (view SW)
Willow Springs Loop
Rock art site (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Pictograph
Willow Springs Loop
Trail passes beneath an enormous boulder (view SW)
Willow Springs Loop
Unmarked junction with Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Hikers resting shade on boardwalk at Lost Creek Spring
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker departing the boardwalk (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Trail marker #7 along Children's Discovery Trail
Willow Springs Loop
Hikers approaching Red Rock Wash (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Hikers crossing Red Rock Wash (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at SMYC Trail junction (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hikers arriving at Lost Creek Trailhead (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Crossing Willow Springs Road (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Trail climbs onto hillside and turns north (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Approaching White Rock Loop trail junction (view N)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Sign at White rock Loop trail junction (view E)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Trail running north towards Willow Spring Picnic Area (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Bighorn Sheep on the hillside above the trail
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Trail running north towards Willow Spring Picnic Area (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Fencing along the trail (view N)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Agave roasting pit (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Pictograph site (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop TrailFive Hands pictograph site (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Hikers approaching the lower restroom facility (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Easiest to follow the road, but watch for traffic (view NW)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (feet) Point-to-Point Distance Cumulative Distance Verified
21 End of Trail 635138 4002610 4,564 0.00 0.00 GPS
20 Red Rock Wash 635110 4002496 4,540 0.09 0.09 GPS
19 Highpoint on Trail 635123 4002394 4,596 0.07 0.16 GPS
17 Top of Little Ridge 635231 4002301 4,550 0.11 0.27 GPS
16 Children's Discovery Trail 635234 4002262 4,532 0.04 0.31 GPS
15 Pictograph Site 635276 4002165 4,521 0.08 0.39 GPS
14 Huge Boulder 635283 4002133 4,519 0.03 0.42 GPS
12 Trail Junction 635274 4002117 4,521 0.01 0.43 GPS
22 Lost Creek Falls 635211 4002114 4,518 . . Yes
11 End Boardwalk 635297 4002125 4,515 0.02 0.45 GPS
10 Start Boardwalk 635327 4002129 4,505 0.02 0.47 GPS
09 Red Rock Wash 635384 4002175 4,478 0.04 0.51 GPS
08 SMYC Trail 635496 4002238 4,474 0.09 0.60 GPS
06 Lost Creek parking, Lost Creek Trailhead 635573 4002262 4,474 0.05 0.65 Yes
05 Lost Creek parking, East Road Edge 635588 4002281 4,470 0.02 0.67 GPS
04 White Rock Loop Trail 635586 4002349 4,478 0.06 0.73 GPS
03 Agave Roasting Pit 635234 4002552 4,554 0.29 1.02 GPS
02 Pictograph Rock 635222 4002572 4,560 0.02 1.04 GPS
01 Willow Springs Trailhead 635167 4002571 4,574 0.04 1.08 GPS
21 End of Trail 635138 4002610 4,564 0.02 1.10 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140419

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