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Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Near the trailhead (view west)

Overview

This fairly easy trail runs about 1/3-miles to a spring with a wooden, A-frame fence that surrounds oak trees, ash trees, cattails, and other wetland vegetation. The spring is located at the base of the Red Rock Escarpment, west of Blue Diamond (south end of the Red Rock Cliffs), in an area of diverse vegetation typical of the Mojave Desert Scrub habitat type. The spring area is fenced, but trees outside the fence provides shade for hikers and birdwatchers.

Access is from Highway 160 using Black Velvet Road, Lone Grapevine Road, and Wildhorse Loop Road, all of which should be suitable in a carefully driven sedan to about 0.3 miles short of the Wooden Fence Spring Trailhead. During the hike, the sandstone cliffs, which are inside the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area, loom higher and higher, eventually dominating the landscape as hikers and birdwatchers draw near to the springs.

Link to map.

Wooden Fence Spring Trail

As an in-and-out hike, visiting Wooden Fence Spring requires about 2/3-miles of walking. Hikers and birders might consider walking a slightly longer loop (about 1-1/2 miles) by including Lone Grapevine Spring in their desert adventure. The plethora of mountain bike trails in the area provide additional opportunities for hiking loops that include these and other springs. Starting from the paved Late Night Trailhead and connecting bike trails and dirt roads (Two Springs Loop Trail) to reach the spring makes a nice morning hike.

Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Conglomerate boulders behind the spring (view NW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is fairly short and safe with no unusual hazards. Without a high-clearance vehicle, be sure to drive carefully and stop at the parking area atop a steep ravine about 0.1 miles before the trailhead.

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.

Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Looping around the spring (view north)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon NCA, but not in the Scenic Loop fee area.

From the Red Rock Visitor Center area, drive west then south on West Charleston Blvd. (Hwy 159) past Blue Diamond Town to Highway 160. Turn right onto Highway 160 and drive west for 4.7 miles to the paved Late Night Trailhead on the right. From the northeast end of the paved parking area, follow Black Velvet Road for 1.3 miles to either of two roads to the left. These roads merge to become Lone Grapevine Road. Follow Lone Grapevine Road to a T-intersection with Wildhorse Loop Road. Turn right onto Wildhorse Loop Road and drive around to Lone Grapevine Trailhead Parking #4. Without a 4WD vehicle, consider stopping at Lone Grapevine parking area #1.

Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Shinarump Conglomerate boulders near the spring

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 21), reddish-brown boulders behind the spring can be seen in the distance to the west-northwest. Starting out, the unmarked trail runs west and down to cross a deep wash, then quickly arrives at a junction with the Late Night Bike Trail (Wpt. 16).

Turning right and continuing west, the trail winds among rocks as it runs across open desert with many species of shrubs, including blackbrush, indigo bush, Virgin River encelia, spiny menodora, and the odoriferous turpentinebroom. There are also lots of Mojave yucca and buckhorn cholla, plus a few Joshua trees.

Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Outside the fence (view south)

The trail eventually bends to the northeast, and soon the fence around the spring can be seen to the left. Bending back to the northwest, the trail drops to cross a wash that holds water during cooler parts of the year. Across the wash, the trail bends back to the southwest, effectively making a big loop around to the far side of the spring.

Passing among large, reddish-brown conglomerate boulders recalls the time when this region was drying out after being under the ocean, but before it was a desert. These conglomerate rocks were formed from gravels deposited by freshwater rivers that formed a large delta covering this region. In contrast to the vast amount of time represented by the limestone and sandstone layers, this layer was deposited over a short period of time -- it is only a few feet thick. This rock is Shinarump Conglomerate, the lower stratum of the Chinle Formation.

Among these boulders, the Late Night Bike Trail bends hard to the north, while a spur trail continues southwest a few yards to the fence that surrounds the spring area (Wpt. 15).

Wooden Fence Spring Trail
A-frame, split rail fence

The spring area is fenced, so it probably is better to stay outside and not trample the vegetation. The large trees around the spring are velvet ash, and shrub live oak grow on the drier edges. Shrubs in the area include sagebrush, sandpaper plant, eastern Mojave buckwheat, and blackbrush. There are also lots of Mojave yucca, buckhorn cholla, and some desert needlegrass. Watch for bighorn sheep, mule deer, and other wildlife, especially songbirds.

When ready to head back, either follow your footprints back down the trail to the trailhead, or consider making a loop. For instance, from the conglomerate boulders (Wpt. 03), follow the Late Night Bike Trail north to Lone Grapevine Spring. From near the watering trough near the spring, a trail runs back to Wildhorse Loop Road at a point about 0.2 miles north of the trailhead.

Wooden Fence Spring
Shinarump Conglomerate boulders near the spring
Wooden Fence Spring
Old wood in the Shinarump Conglomerate
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Wooden Fence Spring
Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Wooden Fence Spring (view NE)
Wooden Fence Spring Trail
Cattails at the actual spring
Returning to the Trailhead
Wooden Fence Spring
Hiker departing the spring area (view E)
Wooden Fence Spring
Hiker on trail (view SE)
Wooden Fence Spring
Hiker on trail (view SE)
Wooden Fence Spring
Hiker standing just past trail junction (view SE)

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
21 Wooden Fence Trailhead 639367 3986263 4,102 0.00 0.00 GPS
16 Trail Junction 639299 3986255 4,082 0.05 0.05 GPS
15 Wooden Fence Spring 639012 3986386 4,115 0.27 0.32 GPS
21 Wooden Fence Trailhead 639367 3986263 4,102 0.32 0.64 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2015 Jim Boone; Last updated 150127

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