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Upper Lost Creek Falls Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Upper Lost Creek Falls
Upper Lost Creek Falls
Red arrows mark the route (view northwest).

Overview

This hike starts on the Willow Springs Loop Trail, ascends a steep hillside, crosses exposed rocky ledges, and ends in a narrow box canyon above Lost Creek Falls and inside the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness Area. There are several seasonal pools in the canyon, and the rocks are water-polished and highly sculpted. There is a willow thicket with a spring at the base of Lost Creek Canyon, so there is water here, but the waterfall often is dry late in the year. During wet years, however, the waterfall and the stream are spectacular. This route has some serious exposure and is not appropriate for the inexperienced or faint of heart; it is not appropriate for young children, and I would not take a dog up there.

Link to map.

Upper Lost Creek Falls Route

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this route has some serious exposure. Falls from a couple of spots on the approach surely would lead to sudden death. The route up the hillside is steep and rocky, and at the top of the cliff, you have to find a route across exposed ledges. Care should always be taken on wet or icy rocks, as well as on water-polished slick rock. Stay well back from the edge at the top of the falls.

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.

Upper Lost Creek Falls

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.

Upper Lost Creek Falls
Humans crossing exposed ledges (view north)

The Hike

Before leaving the parking area, look across Red Rock Wash and locate Lost Creek Canyon beyond the willow thicket. The goal of this hike is to get onto the wide bench on the north (right) side of the canyon, about 100 feet above the bottom of the canyon.

From the Children’s Discovery trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 01), the route starts on the well-defined Children’s Discovery Trail and heads upstream and across Red Rock Wash towards the cliffs north of Lost Creek Canyon. The route follows the Children’s Discovery Trail across the wash and up the hillside to the signed junction with the Willow Springs Loop Trail (this is also Marker #3 on the Children’s Discovery Trail; Wpt. 02).

Upper Lost Creek Falls
Waterfall at the end of the route (view west)

 

At the junction, the route turns right (north) onto the Willow Springs Loop Trail and climbs through a slot between two huge boulders. The trail winds along beneath broken cliffs and ledges, but eventually gets to the base of a large, smooth cliff face with a single vertical crack from the bottom all the way to the top. The crack is narrow at the bottom and wide at the top (and is a popular rock-climbing route). Just north of this cliff face, you reach the high point on the main trail (Wpt. 03).

Upper Lost Creek Falls
Seasonal pools and sculpted rock (view west)

From the high point, several use-trails cut up to the west (left) and climb directly up the rocky hillside with lots of shrubs and a few trees. If you go too far on the main trail, you will quickly drop back into Red Rock Wash; just head back to the high point.

Pick one of the use-trails and scramble up the rocky hillside for about 100 vertical feet until forced to the south (left) by cliffs. Moving ∑south, climb onto a broad ledge at the top of the smooth cliff face with the single vertical crack. This is about as high as you need to go.

Upper Lost Creek Falls
People below Lost Creek Falls (view east)

The route runs southward across the generally wide, but sometimes narrow and exposed, ledges until reaching the mouth of Lost Creek Canyon. The route turns west (right) into the canyon and continues across generally broad ledges staying more or less at the same elevation. When you reach the creek, you will be at the back of the canyon and directly below a waterfall (Wpt. 04). Without ropes for getting down, I wouldn't go any higher than this. Going up doesn't look bad, but the downclimb looks a bit challenging.

From the base of this waterfall, work your way downstream across the slick rock walls of the canyon until you reach the top of the Lost Creek Falls (a distance of about 100 yards). Be careful on the slick, water-polished rocks, and especially be careful near the edge of the cliff at the top of the waterfall.

Use your own good judgment about the route and about your safety. Remember: it is always better to turn back thanߨ to get hurt trying something that is too hard. It's just not worth it. You can always come back and try it again later.

To get down, carefully retrace your steps.

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

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Verified
01 Children's Discovery Trailhead 635547 4002269 4,473 GPS
02 Willow Springs Loop Trail Junction 635234 4002262 4,532 GPS
03 Highpoint on WS Loop Trail 635123 4002394 4,596 GPS
04 Upper Lost Creek 635053 4002100 4,700 Map

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 150720

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