Wilson's Pimple Trail Trailhead (view W)
The Escarpment Trail runs 8.3-miles along the base of the Wilson Cliffs (i.e., the escarpment) from the old Oak Creek Campground north to Willow Springs Picnic Area. The trail uses several named trails (Wilson's Pimple, Knoll, Arnight, Pine Creek, Dale's, SMYC, Lost Creek Falls, Children's Discovery Trail, and Willow Springs Loop), plus a bit of use-trail) to traverse the escarpment. The scenery is grand and the vegetation is relatively lush for the desert.
This is a one-way hike that requires shuttling vehicles or arranging a pickup at the end of the trail. The hike can be done in either direction in its entirety or in part by starting and stopping at any of the several trailheads along the way. Here, the trail is described from south to north, the uphill direction, but most details are left to descriptions of the individual trails along the way. For the other direction, see Escarpment Trail - Southbound.
Link to map. For detailed maps, follow links to the named trails.
Wilson's Pimple Trail crosses rocky desert flats (view NW)
Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe trail. In some places, there are so many rocks in the trail that the chance of twisting an ankle is unusually high.
While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Also, this is a long hike, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.
Getting to the Trailhead
This hike is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 40 minutes west of Las Vegas. Drive out West Charleston Blvd, past the entrance to and exit from the Scenic Loop Road, to the Old Oak Creek Campground Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead. The Escarpment Trail ends at the Willow Spring Trailhead.
Wilson's Pimple Trail at Wilson Saddle (view NW)
From the Old Oak Creek Campground Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 14), the Escarpment Trail runs west on the old campground road following the Wilson's Pimple Loop Trail. When the campground road turns left, the Escarpment Trail continues west to pass a trail sign and a gate, then crosses Oak Creek Wash. Following old roads north and west, the trail runs up onto Wilson Saddle (Wpt. 13) between the face of Mt. Wilson and Wilson's Pimple Hill.
Staying on the main trail past Wilson Saddle, the Escarpment Trail passes several minor trail junctions on the left, but eventually the main trail forks. Wilson's Pimple Loop Trail stays right, while the Escarpment Trail stays left on a well-used use-trail.
In this area, there is a maze of old roads and use-trails, but the Escarpment Trail runs north and eventually crosses Oak Creek (Wpt. 12). Across the creek, the Escarpment Trail climbs out of the canyon to the north to intersect the Oak Creek Canyon Trail (Wpt. 11) at the point where the Knoll Trail begins. This trail junction is signed, the first trail sign since the trailhead.
Wilson's Pimple Trail forks: Escarpment stays left (view N)
The Escarpment Trail continues north on the Knoll Trail, which runs on gentle grades across open desert with little elevation gain. The Knoll Trail eventually ends at a signed triangle-intersection with the Arnight Trail (Wpt. 10).
Staying left on the Arnight Trail and continuing north, the Escarpment Trail runs high across hillsides near the sandstone cliffs. The Arnight Trail eventually turns west and descends into Pine Creek Canyon at moderate grades. While hiking down towards Pine Creek, notice the old building foundation across the creek. This is the Wilson Homestead, and the trail will pass by the old homeplace. Continuing down, the Arnight Trail ends at a signed T-intersection with the Pine Creek Loop Trail (Wpt. 09).
Turning right onto the Pine Creek Loop Trail, the Escarpment Trail runs down and across Pine Creek where water usually flows all year. Across the creek, the trail runs through Mr. Wilson's garden plot and past the last of his orchard to signed T-intersection (Wpt. 08) just left of the building foundations. This intersection is where the loop of the Pine Creek Loop Trail begins.
Use-trail runs north to cross Oak Creek (view N)
Staying right, the Escarpment Trail passes the old homestead and continues east down Pine Creek Canyon until reaching a signed T-intersection with Dale's Trail (Wpt. 07). Here, the Escarpment Trail turns left onto Dale's Trail to run north. This isn't the nicest part of the Escarpment Trail, but strategically placed park benches invite hikers to take a rest and bask in the grand scenery.
Dale's Trail is the longest trail segment, but it eventually runs north to a signed trail junction with the Icebox Canyon Trail (Wpt. 06). Dale's Trail ends here, but the SMYC Trail starts and continues north.
Across Icebox Canyon Trail, the Escarpment Trail continues north on the SMYC Trail, a fairly easy segment with nice views to the east when the trail climbs higher on the hillsides. The SMYC Trail eventually drops into the gravels of Red Rock Wash and ends at a signed T-intersection junction with Lost Creek Falls Trail (Wpt. 05). For hikers who want to stop early, this point is only 80 yards from the Lost Creek Trailhead.
Turning left onto Lost Creek Falls Trail and continuing west, the Escarpment Trail recrosses Red Rock Wash and climbs the hillside towards the box canyon ahead. In a wet willow thicket, the trail runs onto a boardwalk to protect this fragile habitat from trampling.
Use-trail crossing Oak Creek (view E, downstream)
Passing off the far end of the boardwalk, the trail continues only some 20 yards to an unsigned T-intersection (Wpt. 04) where the Escarpment Trail turns right onto the Children's Discovery Trail. Before making the turn, consider visiting Lost Creek Falls if water is flowing.
Turning right, the Escarpment Trail runs north, passing several enormous boulders and arriving at a wooden fence along the base of the cliff. The fence protects a rock art site where hikers can see a pictograph (rock painting) left by ancient people who lived here.
Continuing north along the base of the cliffs, the Children's Discovery Trail arrives at a signed T-intersection (Wpt. 03) with the Willow Springs Loop Trail. Here, the Escarpment Trail turns left and climbs rather steeply up the hillside and through a gap between two enormous boulders.
The Willow Springs Loop Trail winds about the hillside, eventually climbing to a highpoint with nice views up and down the canyon. There are several use-trails in this area, but the main trail is well used and easy to follow. Beyond the highpoint, the trail drops rather steeply into Red Rock Wash (Wpt. 02) and continues a short distance to end at the Willow Spring Trailhead (Wpt. 01).
Table 1. Hiking Coordinates and Distances based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.
||Point-to-Point Distance (mi)
||Cumulative Distance (mi)
||Oak Creek Camp Trailhead
||Oak Creek Wash
||Knoll--Oak Creek Trail Jct
||Arnight--Knoll Trail Jct
||Pine Creek--Arnight Trail Jct
||Fork Past Homestead
||Dale--Pine Creek Trail Jct
||SMYC--Icebox--Dale Trail Jct
||Lost Creek--SMYC Trail Jct
||Willow Spring--Lost Creek Trail Jct
||Willow Spring--Children's Trail Jct
||Crossing Red Rock Wash
||Willow Springs Trailhead