birdandhike.com logo
Home | Wilderness | Hiking | Red Rocks
Willow Springs Loop Trail - Clockwise
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs picnic area (view N)

Overview

This nice, 1.1-mile loop trail runs down one side of Red Rocks Wash and back up the other. The trail can be started from the Willow Springs or Lost Creek parking areas, which are at opposite ends of the loop. The scenery is great, the desert vegetation is relatively lush (well, for the desert), there are two springs with riparian vegetation, there are interesting Native American sites along the way, and there is always the chance of seeing bighorn sheep up in the cliffs.

This loop can be started at either end and walked in either direction. Here, the route is described as running from Willow Springs to Lost Creek down the east side of the canyon, then looping back on the west side (clockwise). For the opposite direction, see Willow Springs Loop Trail (counter-clockwise).

Link to map or elevation profile.

Willow Springs Loop
Hikers at trailhead sign (view SE)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a safe hike if you don't stray off the trail. Watch for cars when crossing the road. Please respect the Native American sites and don't deface them; they are part of the history of this land, and when they are gone, they are gone forever.

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 hike is short, be sure to bring what you need of the 10 Essentials.

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 Springs Road. Turn right and drive north 0.2 miles to the Lost Creek Trailhead or 0.6 miles to the Willow Springs Trailhead. Park here; these are the trailheads.

Willow Springs Loop
trailhead sign (view S)

The Hike

From the Willow Springs parking area, wander down the paved road through the picnic area to the lower restroom facility (Table 1, Waypoint 01). From the restroom, a cement trail leads a few yards east to some huge boulders with Native American hand paintings (Wpt. 02) (pictographs using red paint) and an agave-roasting pit (Wpt. 03). Signs provide information about the site. There is more rock art hanging on the wall of Red Rock Canyon, but you'll have to search for it.

After spending a few minutes contemplating the lives of people who lived here hundreds of years ago, continue down the dirt trail past the agave-roasting pit. As you start walking south, you can see the Lost Creek parking area in the distance (which is your immediate target and about 0.4 miles away). There are some interesting colors (reds, purples, whites) in the dirt and rocks along the trail, and the vegetation is fairly dense with lots of shrub live oak.

Willow Springs Loop
Hiker passing behind the picnic area (view SE)

From the agave-roasting pit, the trail runs south for 0.30 miles to intersect the White Rock Loop trail (Wpt. 04). At the junction, the Willow Springs Loop stays to the right and runs down the hillside towards the paved road. The loop crosses the road at the crosswalk (watch for traffic), and crosses the Lost Creek parking lot to the Lost Creek Falls trailhead (Wpt. 06).

Two trails leave from the west side of the Lost Creek parking area. The Willow Springs Loop Trail (Wpt. 06) starts in the middle of the parking area and runs southwest on the well-defined Lost Creek Falls Trail, heading straight across Red Rock Wash towards a big willow thicket and the mouth of a little side-canyon. The little side-canyon is Lost Creek Canyon and the next target. The Children's Discovery Trail also starts at the Lost Creek parking area, but it starts at the northwest corner of the parking lot and angles upstream across the wash.

Willow Springs Loop

About 80 yards past the parking area, the Willow Springs Loop Trail passes the junction with the SMYC Trail (Wpt. 08) and continues southwest (straight) towards Red Rock Wash (Wpt. 09). In wet years, water flows in the wash, which is always nice to see in the desert. Even in dry years, however, there is enough water down in the gravel to support thickets of shrub live oak, desert willow, redbud, and other small trees that grow in the wash.

The trail crosses the wash and wanders up the rocky hillside into the willow thicket (Wpt. 10). There is a boardwalk through the wet thicket, which is nice because people used to trample the whole place; it is nice to see the vegetation growing back. This is a nice place to stop, sit, relax in the shade of the willows, and listen to the sounds of water and birds.

Continuing past the boardwalk, the trail runs straight towards Lost Creek Canyon. About 20 yards past the end of the boardwalk, just before entering the canyon, the Willow Springs Loop Trail turns right at an unmarked T-intersection (Wpt. 12) and runs north, back towards the picnic area.

Willow Springs Loop

Before making the turn and starting back towards Willow Springs, consider walking up to Lower Lost Creek Falls (Wpt. 22). The trail to the falls continues straight into the canyon from the T-intersection. The canyon narrows, and after a minute or two, the trail crosses Lost Creek beneath an enormous ponderosa pine. A park bench invites hikers to sit, relax, and listen to the sounds of the canyon. Past the bench, the trail climbs around and under boulders and quickly arrives at the waterfall and the end of this trail. For details of this trail, see the description of the Lower Lost Creek Falls Trail. Return to the unmarked T-intersection (Wpt. 12) by the boardwalk.

From the T-intersection, the trail runs north. About 20 yards out, the trail winds around and under a huge boulder, then quickly arrives at another Native American rock art site (Wpt. 15) behind a pole fence. The overhang at the top of the low rock wall protects the faint red marks painted (pictographs) on the rocks.

Willow Springs Loop
Hiker arriving at Painted Hands pictograph site (view S)

From the rock art site, the trail continues north, winding among rocks and trees under a band of red cliffs, for 0.09 miles to a 3-way trail intersection (Wpt. 16). The trail to the northeast (right) is the Children's Discovery Trail that leads back to the Lost Creek parking area. The Willow Springs Loop turns northwest (left) and climbs up the hill through a slot between two huge boulders.

The Willow Springs Loop Trail runs up onto a rocky bench above the wash with some nice viewpoints overlooking the Lost Creek parking area and the trails in the area. From there, the trail runs north, winding along the hillside and among pinyon pine trees that add variety to the vegetation in this area. Along the way, there are some nice viewpoints looking up the canyon towards the Willow Springs picnic area.

The trail winds along the bench to a highpoint (Wpt. 19), then starts a fairly steep descent behind some boulders into a scrub-oak thicket and back into Red Rock Wash (Wpt. 20). From the wash crossing, the trail runs northeast for 0.08 miles back to the Willow Springs Road (Wpt. 21), across the canyon for Willow Springs Picnic Area, and completing the loop.

Willow Springs Loop
Painted Hands pictograph site (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Painted Hands pictograph site (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Five ancient hand prints
Willow Springs Loop
Agave roasting pit (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Agave roasting pit (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker continuing down the trail (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
Flowers and pricklypear cactus
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker continuing down the trail (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker on trail (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
Lost Creek Trailhead comes into view (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker approaching trail junction (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker passing White Rock Loop trail junction (view SE)
Willow Springs Loop
White Rock Loop trail (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
White Rock Loop trail sign (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker descending towards wash (view S)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker crossing wash
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker approaching Willow Springs Road (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker crossing Willow Springs Road (view W) - Watch the traffic!!
Willow Springs Loop
Lost Creek Trailhead (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at SMYC-Lost Creek trail junction (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker starting onto Lost Creek Boardwalk (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at information sign on Lost Creek Boardwalk (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
The Willow Springs Loop Trail will go past this information sign
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker exiting the boardwalk (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Beyond the boardwalk, entering the wilderness area (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at unmarked trail junction (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker approaching enormous boulder (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker under enormous boulder (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at another pictograph site (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop Trail
Pictograph site (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Pictographs (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker departing pictograph site (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker traversing hillside (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at Willow Springs - Children's Discovery trail junction (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs - Children's Discovery trail sign (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker starting up towards gap between boulders (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker in gap between boulders (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker exiting gap between boulders (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs Loop
Up-and-downs traversing hillside (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at viewpoint overlooking Willow Springs (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker on trail winding along hillside (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
A popular rock climb above the trail (view west)
Willow Springs Loop
Another viewpoint overlooking Willow Springs (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker on trail winding along hillside (view W)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker passing trail junction to Upper Lost Creek Falls (view NW)
Willow Springs Loop
Hikers passing highpoint on the trail (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker starting down towards Willow Springs (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Colorful bedrock on the trail (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Steep trail leading down to Willow Springs (view N)
Willow Springs Loop
Steep trail leading down towards Willow Springs (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop Willow Springs Loop
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker on steep stone stairs (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Trail runs through oak thicket (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker crossing Red Rock Wash (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker beyond Red Rock Wash (view E)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker approaching Willow Springs (view NE)
Willow Springs Loop
Hiker at Willow Springs Trailhead (view NE)

Table 1. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation (feet) Point-to-Point Distance Cumulative Distance Verified
01 Willow Springs Trailhead 635167 4002571 4,574 0.00 0.00 GPS
02 Pictograph Rock 635222 4002572 4,560 0.04 0.04 GPS
03 Agave Roasting Pit 635234 4002552 4,554 0.02 0.06 GPS
04 White Rock Loop Trail 635586 4002349 4,478 0.30 0.35 GPS
05 Lost Creek parking, East Road Edge 635588 4002281 4,470 0.06 0.41 GPS
06 Lost Creek parking, Lost Creek Trailhead 635573 4002262 4,474 0.02 0.44 Yes
08 SMYC Trail 635496 4002238 4,474 0.05 0.49 GPS
09 Red Rock Wash 635384 4002175 4,478 0.09 0.58 GPS
10 Start Boardwalk 635327 4002129 4,505 0.05 0.63 GPS
11 End Boardwalk 635297 4002125 4,515 0.02 0.65 GPS
12 Unmarked Trail Junction 635274 4002117 4,521 0.02 0.66 GPS
14 Huge Boulder 635283 4002133 4,519 0.02 0.68 GPS
15 Pictograph Site 635276 4002165 4,521 0.02 0.71 GPS
16 Children's Discovery Trail 635234 4002262 4,532 0.09 0.80 GPS
17 Top of Little Ridge 635231 4002301 4,550 0.04 0.84 GPS
19 Highpoint on Trail 635123 4002394 4,596 0.11 0.95 GPS
20 Red Rock Wash 635110 4002496 4,540 0.08 1.03 GPS
21 End of Trail 635138 4002610 4,564 0.08 1.11 GPS
22 Lost Creek Falls 635211 4002114 4,518 . . Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 140413

Hiking Around Red Rocks Hiking Around Las Vegas Glossary Copyright, Conditions, Disclaimer Home

 

Google Ads