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Dale's Trail - Southbound
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
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Dale's Trail
Junction of SMYC, Icebox Canyon, and Dale's trails (view S)

Overview

Dale's Trail is a 2.1-mile segment of the Escarpment Route that runs through open desert along the base of the Wilson Cliffs. Dale's Trail runs between the Icebox Canyon Trail and the Pine Creek Canyon Trail. The trail runs through Pinyon-Juniper Woodland vegetation at a fairly gentle grade most of the way, but it has several short, steep sections; it is quite rocky and hard to walk on; and it seems to twist and jog back and forth far more than is necessary. The south end of the trail cuts across a number of steep ravines, but rather than contour around the back of the ravine, the trail drops into each one and climbs back up the other side. In general, this trail was poorly laid out and is not among my favorites. Fortunately, park benches along the trail encourage you to stop, relax, and enjoy the splendid views.

Link to map.

Dale's Trail
Junction of SMYC, Icebox Canyon, and Dale's trails (view S)

Dale's Trail connects two trails, so it can be walked in either direction. Here, I describe it running from Icebox Canyon to Pine Creek Canyon, which is the downhill direction. For hikers going the other direction, see Dale's Trail Northbound. The total distance between the two trailheads is about 2.8 miles.

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a moderately strenuous hike requiring careful attention to where you are walking so as not to twist an ankle on the many loose rocks in the trail.

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.

Dale's Trail
Hiker starting south on Dale's Trail from Icebox Canyon Trail

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. Drive out to Red Rocks, pay the fee, and then drive about 2/3rds of the way around the the Scenic Loop to the Icebox Canyon Trailhead or the Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead.

The Hike

From the Icebox Canyon Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), hike southwest on the Icebox Canyon Trail, crossing Red Rock Wash and heading towards Icebox Canyon. Early on, the trail is well defined as it heads towards the mouth of Icebox Canyon. After about 0.2 miles, the Icebox Canyon Trail reaches a trail junction (Wpt. 02) where Dale's Trail goes south (left), the Icebox Canyon Trail continues west (straight) into the canyon, and the SMYC Trail goes north (right).

Dale's Trail

From the junction, turn south (left) on the rocky trail and hike towards Icebox Wash, which is only 2-3 minutes away. The trail drops into the wash, goes upstream around a big shrub live oak tree, crosses the wash, and then climbs the bank on the far side.

Just across the wash, there is a park bench in the sun where you can stop, relax, and gaze off to the north towards the La Madre Mountains Wilderness Area. While here, notice that there is a lot of tall, dense vegetation in and near the edges of the wash (including shrub live oak, manzanita, singleleaf pinyon pine, sagebrush, and lots of others). As you head south from here, you will quickly leave the wash-vegetation and get onto a sidehill environment dominated by blackbrush and buckhorn cholla, with singleleaf pinyon pine, Utah juniper, banana yucca, yerba santa, Mormon tea, Turpentinebroom, and bunchgrasses. On the sidehills, the vegetation is diverse, low-growing, and dense. The differences in vegetation relate to differences in the amount of soil moisture, soil types, and flash flood tolerance.

Dale's Trail
Crossing Icebox Creek

The rocky and winding trail runs out across a fairly flat area heading for little saddle that can be seen to the south. Here, the trail is a little easier to walk on, but it still is winding, rocky, and little used. You do, however, start getting some nice view of the escarpment and the mountains (e.g., Mt. Wilson) to the south (Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area).

After about 0.8 miles on the Dale's Trail, there is another park bench (Wpt. 03) in a little pinyon-juniper forest just north of the saddle. This bench also faces north, but it is in the shade of pinyon and juniper trees, with some nice big rocks and red soils, plus lots of mountain mahogany, buckhorn cholla, banana yucca, and blackbrush all around.

From the bench, the trail runs up through the saddle, then works across a hillside (Wpt. 04) with great views to the south down the valley, to the east towards Las Vegas, and to the north towards the La Madre Mountains. This is also about the first place where you can see the Pine Creek parking area.

Dale's Trail

From this viewpoint, the trail generally runs south as it cuts across a number of ravines. The trail runs steeply down into each ravine and steeply up the other side rather than contour around the hillside. One of the ridges is the highest point on the trail (Wpt. 05), which is reached after about 1.2 miles on the Dale's Trail.

From the high point, the trail runs down the hillside for another 0.06 miles to another sunny bench (Wpt. 06) with a nice view overlooking Pine Creek and other points south. Behind the bench is the imposing east face of Bridge Mountain.

From the bench, the trail runs out for another 0.43 miles as it cuts steeply across more ravines until reaching the edge of the major ravine (Wpt. 07) that forms the northern edge of Pine Creek canyon, although the creek still is pretty far off. This point is about 1.65 miles out the Dale's Trail.

Dale's Trail

From there, trail cuts straight down the crest of the ridge to toe, then switchbacks steeply down the toe of the ridge to the bottom of the canyon. The trail cuts steeply up the other side to the top of another ridge (Wpt. 08) that has nice views of Bridge Mountain and the trail on the toe of the ridge behind you.

The trail continues downhill, generally at a gentle grade to a fourth park bench, this one adjacent to Skull Rock (Wpt. 09), which is about 1.83 miles out the Dale's Trail. Beyond Skull Rock, the trail switchbacks down another short hillside, then cuts out across the rocky, sandy flats heading south to intersect the Pine Creek Trail (Wpt. 10), which is a total of about 2.07 miles from the start of Dale's trail.

Dale's Trail This is the end of the Dale's Trail. From here, go west and up the Pine Creek Trail, go east for about 0.45 miles to the Pine Creek trailhead (Wpt. 11), or turn around and hike back to the Icebox Canyon trailhead. At the intersection, you are only about 0.3 miles from the remains of old-man Wilson's homeplace (Wpt. 12), so you might as well hike up and check it out before heading for home.
Dale's Trail Dale's Trail
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Dale's Trail Dale's Trail
Dale's Trail Dale's Trail
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Dale's Trail Dale's Trail
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Dale's Trail
Pine Creek Fire (2006, 2,300 acres; view SW)
Dale's Trail
Descending along ridgeline (Pine Creek Fire on right; view SE)
Dale's Trail
Descending towards white boulders (view SE)
Dale's Trail
Approaching Skull Rock (view S)
Dale's Trail
Skull Rock sign (view E)
Dale's Trail
Skull Rock sign (view E)
Dale's Trail
Skull Rock (view N)
Dale's Trail
Mule Deer along Dale's Trail (view W)
Dale's TrailApproaching Pine Creek (view S) Dale's Trail
Pine Creek Fire zone (view SE)
Dale's Trail
Approaching Pine Creek Trail (view S)
Dale's Trail
Trail sign (the 2.0 miles is the length of the trail, not a distance)
Dale's Trail
Pine Creek Trail approaching south end of the Dale's Trail (view W)
Dale's Trail
South end of the Dale's Trail (view north from Pine Creek Trail)

Table 1. 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
01 Icebox Canyon Trailhead 636455 4001453 4,280 . . Yes
02 Trail junction 636233 4001218 4,307 0.00 0.00 GPS
03 Park bench 636800 4000352 4,268 0.78 0.78 GPS
04 Hillside 636830 4000056 4,314 0.21 0.99 GPS
05 High point on the trail 636756 3999907 4,341 0.16 1.15 GPS
06 Sunny bench 636743 3999828 4,336 0.05 1.20 GPS
07 Edge of major ravine 636678 3999243 4,205 0.43 1.63 GPS
08 Top of ridge 636829 3999119 4,103 0.14 1.77 GPS
09 Skull Rock 636869 3999058 4,076 0.06 1.83 GPS
10 Pine Creek Trail 636966 3998718 3,986 0.24 2.07 GPS
11 Pine Creek trailhead 637417 3999122 3,987 . . GPS
12 Wilson's homeplace 636507 3998522 4,030 . . GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150114

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