March and April are great months to experience hiking in southern Nevada. There’s no better place to hike during the months of March and April than Red Rock Canyon. Proximity to Las Vegas, towering sandstone walls, waterfalls, and an abundance of hiking opportunities make Red Rock Canyon an excellent choice. Before I describe a great family hike, let’s review some basics.
Safety is first. Always tell someone where you are hiking (location, trail, etc.) and when you expect to return. A twisted ankle can become life-threatening if you can’t walk and you are alone. Bring a cell phone. Verizon has the best coverage in Red Rock Canyon. Check the weather the night before.
Know your limitations. Don’t climb up something you can’t climb down. Don’t attempt hikes that are above your fitness level. If hiking off trail, make sure to turn around often to see what the terrain will look like as you return. Although the hike I suggest later in this article follows and established trail, there are plenty opportunities to wander off trail.
Make sure you are in the correct hiking area for the season. Lake Mead and Red Rock are too hot in the summer. Unless you have experience hiking in snow, Mt. Charleston is too cold and snowy during the winter. Here’s the breakdown:
Spring and autumn – Red Rock Canyon Winter – Lake Mead Summer – Mt. Charleston
There is some overlap. If it’s mild winter, you can hike in Lake Mead and Red Rock Canyon.
The following hike make a great family outing.
Hike: Lost Creek Canyon / Children’s Discovery Trail
Distance: 1 mile — round trip
Elevation gain: 240 feet
Time: 40 minutes
Fee: $7.00 per car
Directions: Drive west on Charleston to Red Rock Canyon. Turn right, drive to the fee booth, and through the Scenic Loop gate. Drive 7.3 miles and turn right at the signed turnoff for Willow Springs. Drive 0.2 of a mile to the signed Lost Creek parking area.
Comments: This is a great beginner’s hike. The seasonal waterfall is spectacular considering it’s in the desert. You can start at either trailhead, since they form a loop.
The Hike: Lost Creek Trail heads SW toward the mouth of Lost Creek. In about 50 yards, the trail climbs enough to see the greenery near the mouth of the canyon. This is an unexpected sight in the middle of the desert. The trail crosses Red Rock wash and goes up a set of stone steps. Soon a minor fork comes in at the left, which leads to the creek. It’s only a 30-yard walk, well worth the effort. There is a bench for people to sit and view the water.
As the trail climbs a small hill, it passes by two wooden benches and divides. If you want to make a loop out of the hike, without going to the waterfall, go right at the divide and continue onto the Children’s Discovery Trail. Most hikers continue on the Lost Creek Trail, which leads to the waterfall. After about 100 yards, you’ll finally cross Lost Creek. A boulder has fallen from above forming an arch over the trail. The waterfall is in sight from this point.
To Descend: Retrace your steps or start back on the same trail, crossing Lost Creek and heading left (west) onto the Children’s Discovery Trail by the wooden benches. Follow the trail to the parking lot.
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