Pine Creek Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Pine Creek Canyon - 2.7 miles
Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||2.7 miles (travel continues deeper into canyon)|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,052' - 4,210' (travel continues up-canyon)|
|Elevation Change:||150' net elevation gain (total elevation gain varies by route)|
Pine Creek Canyon - 2.7 Miles Round-Trip
Pine Creek Canyon is located between Bridge Mountain (6,460') and Rainbow Mountain (6,924') in Red Rock Canyon. It's named so for the rare concentration of ponderosa and pinyon pine trees found in and around the canyon.
Pine Creek Canyon is thought to be a remnant biotic community from about 1M years ago when the Las Vegas valley was possibly covered in similar woodlands. It's believed that an underground creek supports this relic environment, enhanced by rain and snowmelt that comes through the canyon.
The trail begins in sparsely vegetated open desert, which rapidly diversifies as you approach the canyon. Ponderosa and pinyon are joined by cottonwood, willow and oak to form a shady canopy, making this a great choice in hot weather.
Once in the canyon visitors will find flowing water, ferns and mosses in stark contrast to the outer-desert.
Note that GPS signal is unreliable in the canyon, and precise distances can be difficult to verify. Additionally, trail guides and signs may interpret the 'end point' differently, contributing to discrepancies among them.
The following description details distance from the trailhead to the Wilderness Boundary, past which social trails fan out up the canyon wall and down to the creek:
The trail drops quickly from the parking lot into open desert with terrific views across the park. It rises steadily back to connections for the Fire Ecology Trail (.28 miles : 3,966') and Dale's Trail (.44 mies : 3,992'). By now you'll see rows of pine extending from the canyon mouth along the main wash.
You'll reach the Knoll Trail split (.8 miles : 4,053'), which is part of the Pine Creek Canyon Loop through homestead remains and heavy timber at the canyon mouth. This is a nice hike extension, and alternative to scrambling in the canyon.
Heavy brush lines the trail as you approach a nebulous 'Triangle' junction (1.15 miles : 4,115').
The left (south) fork is part of the Pine Creek Canyon Loop, and also leads up canyon to various climbing routes. The right (north) fork leads to the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness boundary and up the main canyon, variously referred to as Fern Canyon. Keep right on the north fork.
Canyon walls abruptly narrow and rise, funneling you down to the creek (1.35 miles : 4,210'). Social trails branch up in every direction from this point to various climbing routes and viewpoints on the north canyon wall. Some paths lead deeper into the canyon before getting 'cliffed out'.
If traveling through the canyon, stay high for a while to avoid heavy vegetation at the 1.35 mile mark, then drop in. Though cluttered and obstructed in many places, it's quite easy to pick through.
Towering pines and sprawling oak provide near-total shade, while ferns and horsetail line the creek and many pools that form along the way. Look for frogs in this unique microhabitat.
Rock Climbing in Red Rock Canyon
There are over 2000 designated climbing routes in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which includes two wilderness areas: The Rainbow Mountain Wilderness and La Madre Mountain Wilderness. New, bolted, fixed anchors and/or protection bolts cannot be installed in either area. Pine Creek Canyon falls within the Rainbow Mountain Wilderness.
Routes in Red Rock Canyon are rated via the Yosemite Decimal System. All class V routes (those involving the use of protection) range from 5.0 (easiest) to 5.14 (most difficult).
Sandstone can become brittle after rain and should not be climbed for at least 24 hours after storms. Anchors and weight-bearing instruments are susceptible to cracks and collapse after absorbing water. Climbers should seek out limestone crags as an alternative after storms.
Climbing Permits: 702.515.5050 | Climbing Ranger: 702.515.5358 | See Rules and Regulations for additional permit information.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N36 07.717 W115 28.432 — 0.0 miles : Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead
- N36 07.571 W115 28.582 — .28 miles : Fire Ecology Trail split
- N36 07.517 W115 28.733 — .44 miles : Dale's Trail split
- N36 07.431 W115 29.062 — .8 miles : Knoll Trail split
- N36 07.437 W115 29.393 — 1.15 miles : Keep straight at triangle junction to enter canyon
- N36 07.444 W115 29.582 — 1.35 miles : Cross wilderness boundary where trail braids
- N36 07.413 W115 29.755 — Canyon Travel 1
- N36 07.427 W115 29.797 — Canyon Travel 2
- N36 07.513 W115 29.856 — Canyon Travel 3
- Pine Creek Canyon's water and shade make it a great choice in hot weather.
- For those seeking a longer hike but not interested in scrambling through the canyon, extend your trip on the Fire Ecology Loop or Pine Canyon Loop.
- By mindful of snakes and never place your hands or feet where you can't see them.
- Burros and bighorn sheep are especially reliant on water found in this canyon. Avoid disturbing sheep while present, and unnecessarily entering pools or contaminating the water.
Rules and Regulations
There's a $15 Daily Pass fee to enter Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area | $30 Annual Pass | America The Beautiful Passes are also accepted
The 13 mile Scenic Drive is open year round, with varying hours:
- November - February: 6 am - 5 pm
- March: 6 am - 7 pm
- April - September: 6 am - 8 pm
- October: 6 am - 7 pm
Late Exit Permits (LE) provide an extra two hours for climbers after the closure of Scenic Drive. These permits are issued for multi-pitch routes and are only available for: Ice Box Canyon, Juniper Canyon, Pine Creek Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon and Angel Food Wall.
Overnight Permits (ON) are only available for: Mt Wilson, Levitation Wall, Rainbow Wall, Buffalo Wall, Hidden Wall and Bridge Mountain.
Camping is not permitted at the base of any route.
Directions to Trailhead
Pine Creek Canyon is accessed from the Pine Creek Canyon Trailhead in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. The trailhead is located 10 miles from the Fee Station along Scenic Drive (right side).
Connector trails offer alternative access to the Pine Creek Canyon Trail from Ice Box Canyon (via Dale's Trail from the north) and Oak Creek Canyon (south).
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Visitor Center (8 am - 4:30 pm):
BLM Southern Nevada District Office