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Arnight Trail - Northbound
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Arnight Trail - Northbound
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trailhead (view N)

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 Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead and the Pine Creek Canyon Trail. The Arnight Trail also is part of the Rainbow Mountain Loop. The Arnight Trail provides a pleasant hike through 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 from Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead north to the Pine Creek Trail. The trail can also be walked southbound. The total distance between the two trailheads is about 2.5 miles.

Link to map.

Arnight Trail
Blackbrush and Bridge Mountain (view N)

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

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located along the Scenic Loop Road in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 50 minutes west of Las Vegas. Drive out to Red Rocks, pay the fee, and then drive most of the way around the Scenic Loop Road to the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead, located at the end of Oak Creek Canyon Road.

Consider a 2-car shuttle: leave one car at Pine Creek Trailhead, then drive the other to Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead. Hike back to Pine Creek and use the Pine Creek Trail to return to the Pine Creek Trailhead.

Arnight Trail
Small wildfire at Juniper Wash (view E; 2002)

The Hike

From the Oak Creek Canyon trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), the well-defined trail runs north from the northeast corner of the parking area. The trail winds among boulders and shrubs, and passes little washes, as it climbs the bajada at a slight grade. Along this part of the trail, there are many low-growing shrubs dominated by blackbrush with some yucca, buckhorn cholla, and a few other species mixed in. The low-growing shrubs don't block your view, and the land is fairly flat, so there are great views in all directions. In fact, hikers can look back and see the trailhead from most places along the trail.

About 0.6 miles out, the trail crosses Juniper Canyon Wash (Wpt. 02). There is a fairly thick stand of shrub live oak, manzanita, and singleleaf pinyon pines in the wash, and this is a good place to stop and listen for birds. There was a small wildfire on the north edge of the wash in 2002. It has been interesting to watch the site recover over the years.

Arnight Trail
Site of small wildfire (view NW, 2014)

After crossing Juniper Wash, the trail runs gently uphill for about 0.5 miles to a trail junction (Wpt. 03) with the Knoll Trail (the north end of the Knoll Trail). From this point, the Knoll Trail runs south (left) for about 1.25 miles to intersect the Oak Creek Canyon Trail.

From the trail junction, the Arnight Trail continues northwest (right), immediately dropping into and crossing a gully, then staying more-or-less on the contour as it runs north.

About 120 yards (straight line) north of the Knoll Trail junction, a well-used use-trail branches off to the left (Wpt. 04). For hikers going north, this isn't a problem because the use-trail goes the wrong way, but for hikers going south, it is hard to tell which is the correct trail. Going either way, just stay to the east and you will be on the right trail.

Continuing north, the trail gets to the edge of Pine Creek Wash (great views), then turns to the west and cuts steeply down the bank towards Pine Creek, dropping more than 100 vertical feet. At the bottom of the hill, about 0.5 miles north of the Arnight-Knoll trail junction, the Arnight Trail reaches a T-intersection with the Pine Creek Trail (Wpt. 05). This is the end of the Arnight Trail.

Arnight Trail

At this point, hikers are on the edge of Pine Creek and just upstream from Horace Wilson's old homestead. There are lots of cattail, rushes, willow, and rabbitbrush in addition to ponderosa pine and shrub live oak where the trail crosses the creek.

From here, hikers can go back the way they came, go back some other way, or continue on the Pine Creek Trail for about 0.85 miles to the Pine Creek trailhead. If continuing on the Pine Creek Trail, turn east (right), cross the creek, and walk out into Mr. Wilson's garden area, which except for yerba santa, is still mostly clear of shrubs after all these years. Wander across the garden area and visit the homesite (Wpt. 06) where Mr. Wilson built his house in the early 1920s. He lived here for about 10 years and planted a big garden and an orchard. Only the foundation of the house and some fruit trees remain. He left the canyon in 1933 and moved to the big city (Las Vegas). Pick up the Pine Creek Trail by the home site (foundation) and walk out to the Pine Creek Trailhead.

Arnight Trail Arnight Trail
Arnight TrailSteepest part of the trail (view NW) Arnight Trail
Heading for Pine Creek (view N)
Arnight Trail
Unmarked junction to Juniper Canyon (view NW)
Arnight Trail
Heading for Pine Creek (view N)
Arnight Trail
Unmarked junction to Pine Creek Trailhead (view NW)
Arnight Trail
Arnight-Knoll trail junction (view NW)
Arnight Trail Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail
Another unmarked junction to Juniper Canyon (view NW)
Arnight Trail
Another unmarked junction to Pine Creek Trailhead (view NW)
Arnight Trail Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail
Approaching edge of Pine Creek Canyon (view W)
Arnight Trail
Descending into Pine Creek Canyon (view W)
Arnight Trail
Descending into Pine Creek Canyon (view W)
Arnight Trail
Pine Creek Canyon (view W)
Arnight Trail
Wilson Homestead from Arnight Trail (view N)
Arnight Trail
Trail passes through dense riparian vegetation (view W)
Arnight Trail
Trail passes through stand of oak trees (view W)
Arnight Trail
Arnight Trail at Pine Creek Loop Trail

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
01 Oak Creek Canyon trailhead 638126 3997170 3,902 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Wash from Juniper Canyon 637363 3997514 3,990 0.60 0.60 GPS
03 Knoll Trail 636701 3997957 4,138 0.54 1.14 GPS
04 Use-trail to the southwest 636653 3998074 4,140 0.08 1.22 GPS
05 Pine Creek Trail (end of Arnight Trail) 636349 3998485 4,063 0.37 1.59 GPS
06 Mr. Wilson's homesite 636507 3998525 4,060 0.11 1.70 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 141222

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