Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
You’ll encounter Joshua trees, bighorn sheep, and jackrabbits on the 4.2-mile Oak Creek Loop in Red Rock Canyon. From the trailhead, head west into the cactus-studded desert on an old Jeep trail (keep an eye out for wild burros along the way). At .8 mile, fork left to start the clockwise loop and begin a gradual climb for about a mile.
After 1.7 miles, bear left at the junction and descend into a canyon with lush vegetation and great views of the mountains. Less than half a mile later, fork right at the junction and enjoy a spectacular view of Rainbow Mountain to the northwest. Keep an eye out for climbers ascending popular routes like Crimson Chrysalis, Solar Slab, and Slab Gully.
At mile 2.3, the route crosses Oak Creek (look for colorful rocks and boulders around the creekbed), then re-crosses it 0.2 mile later. As the trail winds to the south, look northward for a view of Red Rock Canyon’s Calico Hills. Complete the loop at mile 3.4 and turn left for the brief stretch back to the trailhead.
-Mapped by Dave Miller
- Distance: 6.7
Location: 36.089893, -115.449164
Pass through the marked trailhead gate and turn right onto the wide jeep trail. There is no water at the trailhead, but it is seasonally available in Oak Creek.
Location: 36.08965, -115.451202
Continue straight at the intersection with an old Jeep trail.
Location: 36.089823, -115.452104
At the entrance to the Oak Creek Trail system, follow the old Jeep trail into the desert. A variety of cactus and desert shrubs dot the landscape.
Location: 36.094886, -115.459657
At mile 0.8, bear left at the Y-junction. Look for Mt. Wilson, Rainbow Mountain, and Bridge Mountain.
Location: 36.096681, -115.473808
At mile 1.7, bear left at the junction and begin the descent into the canyon.
Location: 36.099724, -115.477145
At mile 2, bear right at the junction. Watch for climbers scaling routes on Rainbow Mountain to the northwest.
Location: 36.101761, -115.473497
Cross Oak Creek.
Location: 36.102086, -115.470133
The trail re-crosses Oak Creek and begins heading southeast.
Location: 36.100088, -115.468047
At mile 2.8, bear left at the junction. Continue east; look for Red Rock Canyon’s Calico Hills to the north.
Location: 36.097049, -115.460585
The wash trail turns into Jeep trail.
Location: 36.095294, -115.459684
Cross the road, then turn left at the trail junction. Re-trace the 0.8-mile route back to the trailhead.
Location: 36.089581, -115.450301
Joshua Tree and Cactus
Location: 36.093083, -115.457768
Location: 36.095337, -115.460343
Location: 36.097383, -115.475407
Location: 36.098458, -115.476362
Location: 36.098978, -115.462983
Location: 36.102164, -115.471882
Location: 36.101783, -115.473406
Location: 36.102103, -115.470015