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Fire Station Hill Loop Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Fire Station Hill Loop
Campground Fire Station Hill Loop
Trailhead (gate through fence) (view west).

Overview

A number of nice use-trails have become established in the Red Rock Canyon Campground Area. The Fire Station Hill Loop (3.23 miles round trip) runs west from the public trailhead, then makes a big loop out behind the fire station, climbing onto the top of the peak past the fire station. This is the hardest of the Campground Area Loops, but the expansive views make it worth it, and there is a nice cactus garden at the top of the hill. After hiking this loop, consider hiking one of the other short or long loops in the campground area.

This hike is nice because it is close to town and not on the Scenic Loop Drive. This makes it free, a quick little get away from town, and it minimizes time driving to and from the trailhead.

Link to map or elevation profile.

Fire Station Hill Loop
View from near the end of the loop (view southwest).

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is about as safe as hiking in the desert can be, but watch out for dog poop near the trailhead.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and please try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, even though this hike is short and close to civilization, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Cliffs along Red Rock Wash (view west).

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes from town, but not on the Scenic Loop Road. For non-campers, drive out West Charleston Blvd to the General Access Campground Trailhead, which is located along the Campground Road. Park here; this is the trailhead.

For campers, continue into the campground, park at your campsite, then walk out into the desert and pick up the trails.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Large cairn on ridge (view northwest).

The Hike

From the public trailhead (Table 2, Wpt. 1), the use-trail runs west across a flat sparsely vegetated area where the trail is braided and poorly defined. Hiking in that direction, however, will shortly bring you to an old road (Wpt. 2) that cuts diagonally across the area. Following the road northwest, the road quickly arrives at a trail junction (Wpt. 3) before the old road cuts down the hillside into Red Rock Wash.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Hiking off-trail up the ridge (view northwest).

Staying atop the cliff overlooking the wash, the trail continues west and shortly becomes well defined as it follows an old road. Through here, the vegetation is typical Mojave Desert Scrub habitat type with lots of creosote bush and white bursage, plus Mojave yucca, Joshua trees, Nevada ephedra, spiny menodora, and galleta grass. Also watch for beavertail cactus and cottontop cactus.

The old road becomes a two-track road, and eventually bends to the left and heads more to the south. Shortly after the bend, the old road ends and a regular trail continues. The trail passes a trail junction (Wpt. 6) with the Campground Wash Loop Trail and continues heading uphill and to the south.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Hiker among summit blocks (view northwest).

At about 1 mile out, the trail intersects an old road coming up from the Fire Station (Wpt. 7). The route turns right and heads west and up the road. A minute or two west, the old road merges with another old road (Wpt. 8) also coming up from the Fire Station, and the route continues west and uphill.

The old road ends, but a constructed trail (edged with white rock; Wpt. 9) starts up the ridge and heads south towards the summit of Fire Station Hill. About 0.21 miles past the end of the road, there is an enormous cairn (Wpt. 10) along the trail. There is a bit of a hilltop here, but the meaning remains mysterious. In the area, there are lots of California barrel cactus, cottontop cactus, and strawberry hedgehog cactus.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Hiker and cactus atop summit block (view northwest).

However, not long past the cairn, the rock edgings become intermittent, then the trail becomes intermittent, and eventually fades away. It seems that perhaps a trail crew ran out of time, built a cairn, and declared victory. Even without a trail, the route to the summit is clear: up the ridge.

The summit (Wpt. 11) is craggy limestone with lots of fossiliferous material. The vegetation is sparse, but diverse, and there are lots of cactus in the summit area, including California barrel cactus, cottontop cactus, pincushion cactus, strawberry hedgehog cactus. Interesting shrubs around the summit include Heermann's buckwheat (Eriogonum heermannii), butterfly bush (Buddleja utahensis), and even Parry's Lipfern growing in cracks in the rocks.

Fire Station Hill Loop
Red Rock BLM Fire Station from above (view northeast).

From the summit, make a loop by hiking off-trail east to another rocky knob overlooking the campground, then working your way down the steep hillside to the northeast to connect with the end of an old road (Wpt. 13).

Follow the road to the northeast, staying to the right at a fork (Wpt. 14), until the old road is crossed by a barbed wire fence (Wpt. 15). Carefully climb through or under the fence, which is to keep burros out of the campground, and continue down the road, with shortly intersects the paved road by the campground water tank and trash disposal station (Wpt. 16).

Fire Station Hill Loop
Red Rock Campground as seen from the false summit (view east).
On paved road, hike back to the trailhead (Wpt. 1). Watch for cars, but the hiking on the pavement is actually enjoyable after hiking cross-country down the steep hillsides. Be sure to wave at the Fire Boys as you pass the Station.
Fire Station Hill Loop Fossils in the rocks along the route.

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

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
01 Trailhead 644710 4000437 3,456 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Trail Junction 644509 4000343 3,473 0.14 0.14 GPS
06 Trail Junction 643971 3999744 3,563 0.56 0.70 GPS
07 Old Road 644085 3999379 3,638 0.27 0.97 GPS
08 Fork in Old Road 644029 3999334 3,650 0.05 1.02 GPS
09 Trail leaves Old Road 644005 3999312 3,658 0.03 1.05 GPS
10 Large Cairn 644099 3999058 3,750 0.21 1.26 GPS
11 Summit 644332 3998824 3,892 0.25 1.51 GPS
12 Subsummit 644458 3998819 3,882 0.10 1.61 GPS
13 Old Road 644512 3998990 3,710 0.19 1.80 GPS
14 Fork in Old Road 644768 3999287 3,560 0.32 2.12 GPS
15 Barbed Wire Fence 645100 3999510 3,507 0.28 2.40 GPS
16 Paved Road 645245 3999771 3,470 0.21 2.61 GPS
01 Trailhead 644710 4000437 3,456 0.62 3.23 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120427

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