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Wilson's Pimple Loop Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Wilson's Pimple Loop Route
wilson's pimple loop trail
Wilson's Pimple below Mt. Wilson (view W)

Overview

This is a pleasant 4.4-mile walk across Red Rock Valley to the base of Mt. Wilson, around the back of Wilson's Pimple to Oak Creek, then down the creek and back to the trailhead. This scenic route runs through a variety of desert habitats, including a creek with water (in season). There are a number of old roads and trails in this area, so there are a number of ways to walk through the area.

Link to map or elevation profile.

Wilson's Pimple
Wilson's Pimple Trailhead (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe hike, even for kids. Watch for slippery rocks along the creek when water is flowing, and watch for ice during winter. In and around desert washes, always be aware of the potential for flash floods.

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 in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 40 minutes from town, but not on the Scenic Loop Road. Drive out West Charleston Blvd, past the Scenic Loop Road entrance and exit, to the Oak Creek Camp Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

Wilson's Pimple Loop
Start of Wilson's Pimple Trail (view W)

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 1), the route runs west, past the gate, and down an old road towards the original Red Rocks campground. This was a nice campground in the old days. Walk straight down the road for 0.16 miles to another gate at the edge of Red Rock Wash (Wpt. 2). Vegetation along the wash includes desert willow and shrub live oak, which provides habitat for birds.

Walk around this gate, cross Red Rock Wash, and hike up the old road on the other side. The road curves and runs northwest across the desert flats. Vegetation on the flats through here largely is blackbrush with a few cholla, plus a few yucca and Joshua trees. The trail runs along the wide dirt road for about 0.11 miles (Wpt. 4), then leaves the wide dirt road and cuts left and up a hillside on a narrow dirt road.

The narrow dirt road, which is quite rocky, runs northwest across the desert flats for about 0.63 miles, finally rejoining the original wide dirt road at about 0.91 miles out (Wpt. 6).

Wilson's Pimple Loop
Approaching trailhead sign and old gate (view W)

On the wide dirt road, hike west and up into the canyon along the south side of Wilson's Pimple, passing a nice campsite that made for a nice place to live during the winter of 1977 or so (Wpt. 7). The vegetation begins to change through here, as juniper, bitterbrush, and yucca become common.

Several dirt roads branch off through here, but stay on the main dirt road and hike up the canyon to a saddle (Wpt. 9) at 1.69 miles out. Pinyon pines become common.

The route crosses over the saddle and runs down the other side through a nice forest of pinyon pine. The trail stays out of the bottom of the canyon, running along the western hillside (the toe of Mt. Wilson). Through here, there is a maze of old roads and trails. While any will do, the shortest way to loop around Wilson's Pimple is to always stay to the right, as close to Wilson's Pimple as possible.

Staying to the right at intersections (Wpts. 10, 11, 12, and 13), hike down to the bottom of Oak Creek Wash near the creek (Wpt. 19), which is about 2.24 miles out.

Wilson's Pimple
Trailhead sign at edge of Oak Creek Wash (view W)

The route follows Oak Creek down the canyon, staying between the creek and Wilson's Pimple until the streamside pinches out against the hillside (Wpt. 21). The trail crosses onto the north side and continues downhill and east along the rocky bench above the creek. There are some nice pinyon and oaks through here.

At about 2.57 miles out (Wpt. 22), the trail crosses back to the south side of Oak Creek and starts back towards the trailhead. The trail runs for about 0.14 miles, then joins an old road (Wpt. 23) and follows roads all the way back.

Wilson's Pimple

After another 0.08 miles, the route reaches a road intersection (Wpt. 24). The road to the right (straight) wraps around the base of Wilson's Pimple, staying close to the hillside until reaching the original wide dirt road (Wpt. 8). The road to the left runs down to a grove of tall, old oak trees that probably was another nice campsite in the old days, and then curves southeast to rejoin the original wide dirt road (Wpt. 5).

Either way, hike back southeast on the original wide dirt road or on the narrow dirt road. All through this country, you can see the paved road and the trailhead, so just follow whatever road looks interesting back to the trailhead.

wilson's pimple loop trail
Dirt roads run on the S, W, and E sides of Wilson's Pimple (view N)
Wilson's Pimple
Old road; hikers could also use a parallel trail (view W)
Wilson's Pimple
Old road along S side of Wilson's Pimple (view NW)
wilson's pimple loop trail
Approaching Wilson's Saddle (view NW)
Wilson's Pimple
Beyond Wilson's Saddle (view NW)
wilson's pimple loop trail
Oak Creek during winter (view east).
wilson's pimple loop trail
Between Oak Creek and Wilson's Pimple (view E)
wilson's pimple loop trail
Trail on bench north of Oak Creek (view east).
Wilson's PimpleCrossing back over Oak Creek Wash (view E) Wilson's Pimple Loop
Hikers Approaching the Oak Creek Camp Trailhead (view E)
Returning to the Trailhead from Oak Creek
Wilson's Pimple
Hikers catching frogs in Oak Creek (view W)
Wilson's Pimple
Oak Creek (view E)
Wilson's Pimple
Use-trail running towards Wilson's Saddle (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Old road that runs over Wilson's Saddle (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Old road that runs over Wilson's Saddle (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Hikers atop Wilson's Saddle (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Hikers descending beyond Wilson's Saddle (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Rocky old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Rocky old road (view E)
Wilson's Pimple
My campsite; I lived here one winter long ago (view S)
Wilson's Pimple
Rocky old road (view E)
Wilson's Pimple
Rocky old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail bypassing old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail bypassing old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail bypassing old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Mojave Yucca along trail bypassing old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Cement-and-stone bench along old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail descending towards old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail at old road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Approaching Oak Creek Wash (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Trail at Oak Creek Wash (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple
Oak Creek Wash (view S)
Wilson's Pimple
Gate and sign at edge of old campground road (view SE)
Wilson's Pimple Loop
Hikers arriving at the trailhead (view SE)

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

Wpt Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance Cumulative Distance
01 Trailhead 639689 3994796 3,757 0.00 0.00
02 Trail Sign at Edge of Campground 639441 3994828 3,737 0.16 0.16
03 Red Rock Wash 639422 3994836 3,734 0.01 0.17
04 Trail Splits 639284 3994936 3,740 0.11 0.28
05 Cutoff to Road 638748 3995372 3,822 0.45 0.73
06 Trail Joins Main Road 638524 3995556 3,858 0.18 0.91
07 Old Campsite 638023 3995459 3,944 0.33 1.25
08 Trail Junction 637875 3995455 3,993 0.14 1.38
09 Saddle 637473 3995556 4,137 0.30 1.69
10 Climber Trail 637240 3995749 4,104 0.20 1.89
11 Trail Junction 637165 3995892 4,088 0.11 2.00
12 Trail Junction 637171 3995965 4,065 0.05 2.05
13 Bottom of Wash 637184 3996065 4,045 0.07 2.12
19 Horse Trail at base of Large Pinyon 637310 3996123 4,006 0.12 2.24
14 Leaving Trail for Other Side 637363 3996125 4,009 0.04 2.28
21 Cross Creek to North 637495 3996122 3,976 0.09 2.37
22 Cross Creek to South 637788 3996165 3,927 0.20 2.57
23 Trail Hits Road 637898 3996027 3,927 0.14 2.71
24 Fork to Tall Oaks 637982 3995943 3,914 0.08 2.79
25 Trail Junction 637966 3995544 3,957 0.28 3.07
26 Rejoin Main Dirt Road 638475 3995553 3,852 0.33 3.40
01 Trailhead 639695 3994796 3,724 0.95 4.36

Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 140321

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