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Arnight Trail - Southbound
Pine Creek to Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Arnight Trail - Southbound
Arnight Trail
Pine Creek Trail forks (view W)

Overview

The Arnight Trail is a 1.7-mile segment of the Escarpment Route that runs through open desert along the base of the Wilson Cliffs. The Arnight Trail runs between the Pine Creek Canyon Trail and the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead. This trail is also part of the Rainbow Mountain Loop and provides a pleasant hike through some spectacular desert country with relatively little elevation change and great views of the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area.

The Arnight Trail lies between two trailheads, so it can be walked in either direction. Here, I describe it running southbound from Horace Wilson's old homestead in Pine Creek Canyon to Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead. The trail could also be walked northbound. The total distance between the two trailheads is about 2.5 miles.

Link to map.

Arnight Trail
Left fork of Pine Creek Trail (view SW)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe and easy, but rocky trail, so watch your step and don't twist an ankle. Watching your step, however, is difficult because the Wilson Cliffs, Rainbow Mountain and Bridge Mountain in particular, just seem to get taller, more vertical, and more spectacular the closer you get, and you will want to watch the scenery rather than your feet.

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 is a short hike, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Arnight Trail
Pine Creek Trail crossing Pine Creek (view E)

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.

From town, drive out to Red Rocks, pay the fee, and then drive most of the way around the Scenic Loop Road to Pine Creek Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

As described, the trail runs south to the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead, located farther around the Scenic Loop Road at the end of Oak Creek Canyon Road.

Arnight Trail
Pine Creek Trail crossing Pine Creek (view W)

The Hike

From the Pine Creek Trailhead, this hike starts on the Pine Creek Trail, following that trail for 0.80 miles to a trail junction about 30 yards beyond Horace Wilson's old home; just past the fruit trees (Table 2, Waypoint 06). At this point, the Pine Creek Trail forks to make a loop that runs farther up into the canyon. To get to the Arnight Trail most quickly, turn left and walk out across Old Man Wilson's garden to Pine Creek.

Across Pine Creek, the trail quickly arrives at a trail junction, which is the start of the Arnight Trail (Wpt. 05).

Arnight Trail
Use-trail along the creek; stay left (view W)

Staying left on the Arnight Trail, the trail runs up the hillside a few yards, then curves left to head southeast and begins to climb the hillside. The hillside provides nice view down into the homestead area.

The trail crests the hillside and turns south, running out across desert hillsides with grand views of the Wilson Cliffs. The trail continues south to a trail junction (Wpt. 04) with a use-trail that comes more directly from Pine Creek Trailhead.

Continuing south on the main trail, the trail drops into and crosses a gully, then in a few more steps arrives at a trail junction (Wpt. 03) with the Knoll Trail. The Knoll Trail turns right on the far side of a bushy Utah Juniper tree and heads southwest and up the hillside. This is the north end of the Knoll Trail, and from this point, it runs south for about 1.25 miles to intersect the Oak Creek Canyon Trail.

Arnight Trail
Sign at use-trail along creek; stay left (view W)

Staying left at the trail junction and continuing more to the east, the Arnight Trail descends across the hillside. The trail crosses several use-trails that run between Pine Creek Trailhead and the Juniper Peak area, but the main trail is fairly obvious as it continues to the southeast.

About 0.5 miles past the Knoll Trail junction, the trail crosses Juniper Wash (Wpt. 02). There is a fairly thick stand of shrub live oak, manzanita, and singleleaf pinyon pines in this area, and it is a good place to stop and listen for birds. In 2002, there was a small fire on the north edge of the wash. It has been interesting watching the site recover over the years.

Arnight Trail
From creek edge, looking south

Beyond Juniper Wash, the trail continues southeast, descending across more and more gentle slopes. To this point, the trail has been quite rocky and hard to walk on, but lower on the slopes the trail becomes more sandy to the relief of tired ankles and feet.

In this area, the vegetation is largely composed of blackbrush with a scattering of Mojave Yucca and Buckhorn Cholla. Listen for the calls of Cactus Wrens that make orb-like, covered nests in the branches of the cholla.

The trail eventually runs out to the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead (Wpt. 01), which can be seen ahead from a long ways off; the outhouse makes a good landmark. For hikers without a vehicle shuttle, consider returning north using the Rainbow Mountain Loop.

Arnight Trail
Pine Creek - Arnight trail junction (view S)
Arnight Trail
Start of Arnight Trail (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail climbs onto hillside (view E)
Arnight Trail
Looking back across Pine Creek (view N)
Arnight Trail
From hillside, looking down on homestead (view NE)
Arnight Trail
Wilson Homestead from Arnight Trail (view N)
Arnight Trail
Wilson Homestead from Arnight Trail (view N)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail climbs hillside (view E)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail arrives at top of hillside (view E)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail turns south across gentle slopes (view S)
Arnight Trail Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail
Use-trail to Pine Creek Trailhead (view NE)
Arnight Trail
Trail continues south
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail arriving at Knoll Trail (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail at Knoll Trail (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Arnight-Knoll trail sign (view SW)
Arnight Trail
Looking back at Arnight-Knoll trail intersection (view W)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail at use-trail from Pine Creek Trailhead (view E)
Arnight Trail
Rocky trail (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Rocky trail crossing shrubby hillside (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Ten years after small wildfire at Juniper Wash; 2013 (view E)
Arnight Trail
Smooth trail (view E)
Arnight Trail
Rocky trail (view SE)
Arnight Trail
Smooth trail with lots of blackbrush (view E)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail approaching Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead (view S)
Arnight Trail
Arriving at Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead (view S)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trailhead at Oak Creek Canyon parking (view NE)

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

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance Cumulative Distance Verified
06 Mr. Wilson's homesite 636507 3998525 4,060 0.11 1.70 GPS
05 Pine Creek Trail at Arnight Trail 636349 3998485 4,063 0.37 1.59 GPS
04 Use-trail to the southwest 636653 3998074 4,140 0.08 1.22 GPS
03 Knoll Trail 636701 3997957 4,138 0.54 1.14 GPS
02 Juniper Wash 637363 3997514 3,990 0.60 0.60 GPS
01 Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead 638126 3997170 3,902 0.00 0.00 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130317

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