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
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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.
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Continue straight at the intersection with an old Jeep trail.
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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.
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At mile 0.8, bear left at the Y-junction. Look for Mt. Wilson, Rainbow Mountain, and Bridge Mountain.
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At mile 1.7, bear left at the junction and begin the descent into the canyon.
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At mile 2, bear right at the junction. Watch for climbers scaling routes on Rainbow Mountain to the northwest.
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Cross Oak Creek.
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The trail re-crosses Oak Creek and begins heading southeast.
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At mile 2.8, bear left at the junction. Continue east; look for Red Rock Canyon’s Calico Hills to the north.
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The wash trail turns into Jeep trail.
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Cross the road, then turn left at the trail junction. Re-trace the 0.8-mile route back to the trailhead.
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Joshua Tree and Cactus
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