Wilson's Pimple below Mt. Wilson (view W)
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 Trailhead (view W)
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.
Start of Wilson's Pimple Trail (view W)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Trail Sign at Edge of Campground
||Red Rock Wash
||Cutoff to Road
||Trail Joins Main Road
||Bottom of Wash
||Horse Trail at base of Large Pinyon
||Leaving Trail for Other Side
||Cross Creek to North
||Cross Creek to South
||Trail Hits Road
||Fork to Tall Oaks
||Rejoin Main Dirt Road