Don’t Get Caught in the Dark!
Many of the hikes around southern Nevada are too dangerous to do in the dark. Plan to be at the peak, waterfall, or your ultimate destination by noon. By following this plan you will have at least four hours to make it back to your car before it gets dark. Don’t be fooled by the old adage that the return trip is faster. Sometimes the descent is faster, but not all the time. Numerous factors determine how quick the return trip will be. These factors include: terrain, length of descent (sometimes it’s not the same as the ascent), speed (some hikers are slower descending than ascending), how tired you are, and route finding. Good planning and preparation lead to good hikes.
On November 1st, Daylight Saving Time is over. This means it will be getting dark much earlier. Toward the end of November it will get dark before 5 pm. Starting November 1st Red Rock closes at 5 pm. If you are caught after 5 pm, the tickets are expensive.
Hike of the Month
Fern Canyon is the most scenic canyon in all of Red Rock Canyon. It has year-round water flowing and ferns grow out of the rocks! It has various stopping points and most of the hike has an easy trail to follow. In fact you actually descend to enter into Fern Canyon. Once in the canyon it’s less than 100 yards to see the water and ferns. There is a seasonal waterfall much deeper in the canyon that advance hikers can see. The waterfall only flows after rain or snowmelt.
Hike: Fern Canyon — Trail and route
Trailhead: Pine Creek — marked
Distance: 2 or 4 miles — up and back
Elevation gain: up to 700 feet depending on stopping point
Highest elevation: 4,575 feet
Time: 1.5 to 3 hours – up and back
Difficult: 1 or 2
Class: 1 or 3
Children: Yes to the ferns; no to the seasonal waterfall
Fees: $7 per car; $30 for a yearly pass. National Park Pass accepted.
Best season: Spring and autumn
Driving Directions: From the intersection of Charleston Blvd. and 215 head west Charleston for five miles to Red Rock Canyon. Drive past the fee booth and through the Scenic Loop gate. The signed parking area for Pine Creek Canyon is 10.3 miles past the Scenic Loop gate.
The Hike: Pine Creek Trail descends in a southerly direction and soon turns to the west toward the mouth of the canyon. Looking toward the canyon, you see Ponderosa Pines towering above the desert floor. It is rare to encounter these pines below 6,000 feet. The elevation along the trail is about 4,000 feet. Mescalito, a small, but majestic pyramid-shaped mountain, splits the canyon into north and south forks. This route heads into the North Fork, also known as Fern Canyon. When the trail passes the cement foundation of the old Wilson homestead, you have hiked 0.8 of a mile. The trail divides a little past this foundation. Head right (no sign). The juniper tree is your landmark. In about 30 yards the trail divides; again take the right fork. The trail again divides in about 40 yards. Take the right fork which weaves through scrub oak trees. If you miss this fork, you will descend into the wash way too soon.
Once the trail emerges from the trees, it climbs (class 1) red sandstone ledges. Just after the ledges the paths start to spider web. Ascend to the highest path, which eventually drops into the wash further than other paths. The path ends at the wash. You are now in Fern Canyon. A popular rock climb named Dark Shadow starts here. The route through the wash is easy to follow, though alternative routes have been created to avoid the excessive water from snow melt.
Route through Fern Canyon:
Start by heading up the wash. In a few yards the route crosses the water and then heads to the south (left) wall. You’ll come to a very pretty spot with ferns. This is one of the best spots to end the hike and enjoy the beauty of the canyon.
Onto the seasonal waterfall:
The route stays along the south wall for most of the way through the wash. In a few hundred yards you come to the boulder and log. In a nutshell go to the right of the large boulder, then behind it and finally scramble up. The route then heads back along the south wall. Soon you’ll come to the tunnel. Continue up the wash heading for the brushy looking chute. The seasonal waterfall lies just below this chute.+
You can download the complete hike description with the photos for free:
Looking to join an advance hiking group? The 52 Peak Club is your answer. More information here: http://www.52peakclub.com/
Branch’s bio here: