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Campground Knoll Loop Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Campground Knoll Loop Route
Campground Knoll Loop
Old road and Gun Range Ridge (view east)


A number of nice use-trails have become established in the Red Rock Canyon Campground Area. The Campground Knoll Loop (2.73 miles round trip) runs east from the campground trash dump to the base of Gun Range Ridge, then turns to the south and makes a long run out to Campground Knoll. The trail ends at the end of an old road, but a bit of cross country hiking leads to the summit. From there, more cross country hiking leads to an old road as the route loops back to the campground. For day hikers, walk up the road from the public trailhead, or hike one of the trails that connect with this trail.

After hiking this nice loop, consider hiking one of the other short or long loops in the campground area.

Campground Knoll Loop
"Danger: Shooting Range -- Do Not Enter"

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 of the route.

Campground Knoll Loop

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. There is some cross country hiking, but the terrain is fairly easy.

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.

Campground Knoll Loop
Huge cairn with Campground Knoll in the background (view south)

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.

Campground Knoll Loop
Old road running up onto the side of Campground Knoll (view south).

The Hike

From the public trailhead (Table 2, Wpt. 17), the shortest route leads up Moenkopi Road to where this trail leaves the road by the campground trash dump and water tank (Wpt. 33). Alternatively, follow the Campground Flats Trail to the Gun Range Ridge Trail (Wpt. 22), and then follow that trail (Wpt. 25) to the Campground Knoll Trail at a point northeast of the Group Campground (Wpt. 26).

Campground Knoll Loop
Hiker on hillside past the end of the road (view east).

From the campground trash dump and water tank (Wpt. 33), walk across the road, climb through the barbed-wire fence, and follow the old road east towards Gun Range Ridge. The route runs along the edge of a low ridge overlooking the Group Campground, passes a spur trail to the Group Camp (Wpt. 34), and climbs onto a little highpoint (Wpt. 26). This high point is where the Gun Range Ridge connects with this trail (it is faint, look for cairns to get started.

In this area, the vegetation is diverse, but typical Mojave Desert Scrub habitat type with lots of creosote bush and white bursage, plus Nevada ephedra, spiny menodora, desert globemallow, littleleaf ratany, and galleta grass. Also watch for beavertail cactus, matted cholla, pencil cholla, and silver cholla.

Campground Knoll Loop
Traversing the top of Campground Knoll (view east).

From the little highpoint (Wpt. 26), the trail continues east on the old road, passing a burro trail (Wpt. 27) and continuing towards Gun Range Ridge. The trail sweeps around below the Gun Range Ridge and heads south. Note that they really do have a gun range on the other side of the ridge, and this is the downrange end! Don't climb up there to see for yourself! Signs along the trail warn hikers away.

The old road runs south and out onto a ridge where a huge cairn (Wpt 28) was constructed for some unknown reason. Perhaps it was to memorialize the great views in all directions. Beyond the cairn, the old road continues south, drops steeply into a saddle, and climbs the ridge on the other side. The road ends (Wpt. 29) at a place with a view, but it seems like an odd place for a road to go at all, let alone for it to end.

Campground Knoll Loop
Campground and Red Rocks (view northwest from summit).
From the end of the old road (Wpt. 29), the route runs off-trail up the hillside to the top of the first knoll, then the second, and finally the third (Wpt. 30), which is the summit. All along this section, there are been great views out across the Las Vegas Valley. Somehow, it seems extra peaceful to sit on a rocky hill, surrounded by cactus and yuccas, and watch people driving around and going about their daily hustle and bustle down below.
Campground Knoll Loop
Las Vegas (view east from summit).

From the summit (Wpt. 30), the loop turns west and wanders down towards the edge of cliffs. Enjoy the view, but don't stray too close to the edge. The off-trail route follows the edge of the cliffs back towards the campground, which can be seen from the summit and all along here.

The cliffs eventually run out, and the route drops off the ridge, crosses a saddle (Wpt. 31) just before the last rocky knob, and drops onto another old road (Wpt. 32). This old road runs straight into a newer road near the campground and ends by the campground entrance (Wpt. 999).

End of route description.

Campground Knoll Loop California barrel cactus along cliffs on the west side of Campground Knoll (view northwest)
Campground Knoll Loop Knob at the end of cliffs on the west side of Campground Knoll. The route crosses (right to left) the saddle in front of the knob and runs down the the road below (view northwest).
Campground Knoll Loop End of the trail: gate by campground entrance and Campground Knoll in evening light (view southeast).

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

Wpt Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Point-to-Point Distance (mi) Cumulative Distance (mi) Verified
26 Trail Junction on high point 646378 4000041 3501.3 0.10 0.72 GPS
27 Trail Junction with Burro Trail 646428 4000055 3496.5 0.06 0.78 GPS
28 Big Cairn along Old Road 646612 3999941 3537.5 0.17 0.95 GPS
29 End of Old Road 646882 3999333 3546.2 0.49 1.44 GPS
30 Summit 646791 3998895 3628.2 0.35 1.79 GPS
31 Saddle behind little Knob 646401 3999177 3494.9 0.35 2.14 GPS
32 Junction with Old Road 646343 3999139 3469.7 0.04 2.18 GPS
33 Campground Dump Trailhead 645274 3999799 3469.7 0.00 0.00 GPS
34 Trail Junction from Group Campground 646215 3999988 3468.9 0.62 0.62 GPS
35 Top of Group Campground Road 646005 3999792 3412.2 . . GPS
36 Campground Trailhead 645540 3999428 3364.8 0.55 2.73 GPS

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

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