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Knoll Trail - Northbound
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail (view N from Oak Creek Canyon Trail)

Overview

The Knoll Trail is a 1.25-mile segment of the Escarpment Route that runs through open Mojave Desert Scrub along the base of the Wilson Cliffs. This segment runs beneath Rainbow Mountain and connects the Oak Creek Canyon and Arnight trails. The Knoll Trail also is part of the Rainbow Mountain Loop and runs just outside the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area. The Knoll Trail is fairly easy with little elevation gain, but it should not be considered a separate hike, but simply a portion of a longer hike because other trails are required to get to and from it.

Here I describe the Knoll Trail as starting at the Oak Creek Canyon Trail and running north along the base of Rainbow Mountain to the Arnight Trail. For photos of the trail in the other direction, see Knoll Trail Southbound.

Link to map.

Knoll Trail
Hiking south, Knoll trail ends at this sign (view S)

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.

Knoll 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 most of the way around the Scenic Loop Road to the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead, located at the end of Oak Creek Canyon Road.

Knoll Trail

The Hike

From the Oak Creek Canyon trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), hiker must first hike southwest on the Oak Creek Canyon Trail for about 0.8 miles, passing the Oak Creek Cutoff Trail (Wpt. 02), to the junction with the Knoll Trail (Wpt. 03), which branches off to the north (right).

The Knoll Trail runs north winding among boulders and shrubs, and passing little washes that come down the bajada, but staying more-or-less on the contour. After about 0.5 miles, the trail crosses a little ridge (Wpt. 04) with nice views in all directions that are not blocked by the low-growing vegetation. Along this part of the trail, closer to the cliffs, the trail runs across a rocky hillside where the vegetation is fairly robust and diverse, and includes a diverse assemblage of species, including blackbrush, buckhorn cholla, Mojave yucca, Utah juniper, California buckwheat, prickly pear cactus, paperbag bush, and bunchgrasses.

Knoll Trail
Nice spot for lunch (view NW)
There are many small boulders on the little ridge that make for a nice place to stop for lunch. While there, watch or listen for white-tailed antelope squirrels (often confused with chipmunks). These little squirrels often sit up in the bushes or in buckhorn cholla where they watch for predators and other squirrels. Also watch for the various species of birds that occur out here (e.g., Juniper Titmouse, Western Bluebird, Western Scrub-jay, Common Raven, and House Finch). On warmer days, hikers should also see side-blotched lizards scurrying among the rocks and bushes. These lizards grow to about 6 inches long and have a little black spot in their armpit (the “side blotch”); during the breeding season, males get dozens little blue spots on their back.
Knoll Trail

From the little ridge, the trail runs north, then bends northwest and climbs the bajada (this is the only "steep" section of trail). After about 0.5 miles, the trail reaches edge Juniper Canyon Wash (Wpt. 05), which is the highest point on the Knoll Trail. There are thick stands of shrub live oak, manzanita, and singleleaf pinyon pines in the wash, and this is another good place to stop and listen for birds.

The trail seems to end on the edge of the wash, but the trail continues down the boulders into the wash. Across the wash, a nice set of stone stairs lead out the other (north) side.

Knoll Trail

After crossing the wash, the trail runs slightly downhill for about 0.2 miles to a T-intersection (Wpt. 06) in front of a strikingly beautiful sandstone boulder with juniper trees all around. There is no sign, but the Knoll Trail turns northeast (right) and down the hill. After another 0.1 miles or so, the trail reaches the T-intersection with the Arnight Trail (Wpt. 07). This is the end of the Knoll Trail.

From the Knoll-Arnight junction, hikers can turn northwest (left) and use the Arnight Trail to hike over to the Pine Creek Trail (about 0.5 miles). If going that way, it is about 1.4 miles to the Pine Creek Trailhead. Otherwise, turn southeast (right) and use the Arnight Trail to return to the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead (about 1.2 miles).

Knoll Trail Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail
Small Spiny Star cactus
Knoll Trail
Hiker crossing a gully (view N)
Knoll Trail
Rocky trail
Knoll Trail
Juniper Wash (view W, upstream)
Knoll Trail
Juniper Wash (view E, downstream)
Knoll Trail
Hikers on stairs exiting Juniper Wash (view N)
Knoll Trail
Looking back across Juniper Wash (view S)
Knoll Trail
Rocky trail
Knoll Trail
Hiker at use-trail junction to Pine Creek Trailhead
Knoll Trail
Female Mule Deer slinking off into the bush
Knoll Trail
Approaching striking boulder at trail junction (view N)
Knoll Trail
Striking boulder at trail junction (view N)
Knoll Trail
Descending across the hillside (view NE)
Knoll Trail
Approaching Arnight Trail junction (view NE)
Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail at Arnight Trail (view ENE; E side of triangle intersection)
Knoll Trail
Knoll Trail departing Arnight Trail (view SW)

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 Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead 638116 3997128 3,910 . . Yes
02 Oak Creek Cutoff Trail 637340 3996372 4,020 . . GPS
03 Knoll-Oak Creek Trail junction 637160 3996332 4,104 0.00 0.00 GPS
04 Low ridge 637163 3997016 4,062 0.46 0.46 GPS
05 Juniper Canyon Wash 636748 3997543 4,171 0.47 0.93 GPS
06 T-intersection 636648 3997793 4,181 0.18 1.11 GPS
07 Arnight Trail Junction 636701 3997956 4,138 0.12 1.23 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140320

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