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Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Trailhead parking (view W)

Overview

This short (0.31 miles one way), but very pleasant trail runs across Red Rock Wash and up a short canyon in the Red Rocks cliffs to a waterfall inside the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area. The trail ends in a pretty little box canyon with a waterfall that flows during winter, spring, and after rainstorms. A spring in the willow thicket at the base of the canyon almost always has water. During wet years, the trail into the canyon can be flooded and travel can be somewhat difficult if you want to keep your feet dry, but the waterfall can be spectacular under those conditions. Lost Creek falls can be visited as short spur off the Willow Spring Loop Trail. This is a good hike for young kids.

Link to map.

Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek Trailhead (view W)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a good safe hike, although the trail in the canyon is rocky and might be difficult for people with walking difficulties. Care should always be taken on wet or icy rocks, and if you get wet sand on your feet, the rocks in the trail can be slippery.

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. This trail leads into a designated wilderness area, so please pay particular attention to taking care of the land.

Lower Lost Creek Falls
Start of the trail (view SW)

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 half-way around the Scenic Loop Road to Willow Spring Road. Turn right and drive north 0.2 miles to the Lost Creek Trailhead. Park here; this is the trailhead.

The Hike

Two trails run west from the paved parking lot. The Lost Creek Trail starts on the west side of the parking lot (near the middle) and runs straight (southwest) across Red Rock Wash towards a big willow thicket, a tall ponderosa pine tree, and the mouth of Lost Creek Canyon. The Children's Discovery Loop Trail starts at the northwest corner of the parking lot (by the big sign) and angles upstream and across the wash (more due west).

Lost Creek Falls

From the Lost Creek Trailhead (Table 1, Waypoint 01), walk southwest on the Lost Creek Trail heading for the willow thicket. About 80 yards out (Wpt. 02), before crossing the wash, the SMYC Trail forks off to the south (right) and runs south for several miles along the base of the escarpment.

Continue west to Red Rock Wash. In wet years, water flows in the wash. It is always nice to see water in the desert, and there should be enough flagstones to cross the wash without getting wet. If the water is too high, don't try to cross the wash. Species of plants capable of withstanding flashfloods grow in the wash. These include the desert willow and California redbud "trees" that grow up and down the wash.

Across the wash, the trail runs up stone stairs on the streambank and wanders up the heavily vegetated hillside towards the willow thicket. The hillside vegetation includes big sagebrush, a higher-elevation species that is unusual at this low elevation.

Lost Creek Falls

Shortly, hikers arrives at the boardwalk through a willow thicket, which is good because people used to trample everything here. Some areas are blocked off to let the vegetation grow back; please respect the signs. While here, stop and sit on the benches, relax in the shade of the willows, and listen to the birds.

Beyond the thicket and the boardwalk, and the trail continues straight into Lost Creek Canyon. About 20 yards past the boardwalk, an unmarked trail branches off to the north (right) and runs up the main canyon towards Willow Springs; this is the west side of the Willow Springs Loop Trail and the far side of the Children’s Discovery Trail.

Just past the trail junction, the Lost Creek Trail descends a set of stone stairs into the bottom of Lost Creek Wash and enters the narrow canyon. The trail quickly crosses the wash, passes a beautiful old ponderosa pine, and cuts up the other side of the canyon on more stone steps. After a couple of minutes of winding among and under oak trees and huge boulders, the trail ends in a box canyon beneath the waterfall (Wpt. 03).

Lost Creek Falls
The SMYC Trail forks off to the right (view W)

When the water is flowing, the canyon can be cold and damp, but most of the year, the falls are dry or have only a trickle of water. Either way, this is another nice place to rest, watch for bighorn sheep on the cliffs, and listen to the songs of Canyon Wrens. When ready to return to the trailhead, follow your footprint back down the canyon.

For the more adventuresome: There is no easy way to climb out of the box canyon and pass the waterfall here, but the Upper Lost Creek Falls route climbs round the cliffs to the north of Lost Creek Canyon and circles back into the canyon. The upper route is exposed and not suitable for young children.

Always use your own good judgment.

Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Trail junction sign - what's missing? (view W)
Lost Creek Falls
Trail bends towards Lost Creek Canyon (view W)
Lost Creek Falls
Crossing Red Rock Wash (view SW)
Lost Creek Falls
Crossing Red Rock Wash (view SW)
Lost Creek Falls
Hiker approaching tone stairs (view SW)
Lost Creek Falls
Stone stairs climbing out of Red Rock Wash (view SW)
Lost Creek Falls Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek Falls
Hiker starting on boardwalk through willow thicket (view W)
Lost Creek Falls
Boardwalk by Lost Creek Spring (view W)
Lost Creek Falls
On the boardwalk
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
On the boardwalk
Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek below the boardwalk
Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek below the boardwalk
Lost Creek Falls Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek Falls
Hiker approaching end of the boardwalk (view W)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Hiker exiting the boardwalk (view W)
Lost Creek Falls
Hiker entering the wilderness area (view W)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Entering Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area (view NW)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Trail drops down along wash (view W)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Lost Creek box canyon (view W)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Ponderosa Pine by the wash (stone stairs past tree)
Lower Lost Creek Falls
Stone stairs above Ponderosa Pine
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Trail deep under canyon live oak trees (view SW)
Lower Lost Creek Falls
Stone stairs between rocks and bushes
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Entering the rabbit-hole tunnel (view SW)
Lower Lost Creek Falls
The rabbit-hole tunnel (view W)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Arriving at the end of the trail (view NW)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Relaxing in the shade (view N)
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Water below the falls during late spring (view E)
Lost Creek Falls with water (view NW)
Be sure to look for the little things too.
Lower Lost Creek Falls
Heart-shaped California Redbud leaf
Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail
Ice on shrubs below the falls during winter
Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek Falls with water (view NW)
Lost Creek Falls
Lost Creek Falls dry (view NW)

Stormy Day Photos

Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls
Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls
Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls
Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls
Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls
Lower Lost Creek Falls Lower Lost Creek Falls

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 Lost Creek Trailhead 635573 4002262 4,476 0.00 0.00 Yes
02 SMYC Trail 635496 4002239 4,474 0.05 0.05 GPS
03 Lost Spring 635314 4002124 4,505 0.15 0.20 GPS
04 Willow Springs Loop Trail 635269 4002122 4,523 0.03 0.23 GPS
05 Lost Creek Waterfall 635168 4002078 4,518 0.08 0.31 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150927

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