Oak Creek Canyon


Activity: Hiking, scrambling, bouldering

Location: Red Rock Canyon NCA

Time on Trail: 4 hrs

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5 miles

Elevation: +/- 450 ft


The Oak Creek Trailhead is a marked turnoff about 12 miles past the gate on the Red Rock Scenic Loop. Once you make the turn onto the gravel road, it’s about 3/4 of a mile to the parking area.


The hike starts with a 1 mile walk across the open desert to the canyon entrance and then the scrambling begins. Boulders line the wash up the canyon, some bigger than a small house. Lots of scrambling and easy climbing. Some of the best views are up. Keep your eyes pointed up to see climbers on the canyon walls.

Trail Description

The Oak Creek Canyon hike is one of my favorites in Red Rock. The beginning section is a great warm up with very little grade and a well maintained trail. It is about a mile to the canyon entrance and that’s when the scrambling starts. The canyon floor is littered with boulders. In some areas, you can still make good time hopping from boulder to boulder. In other areas, the canyon closes in on you with heavy vegetation on either side and boulders in the path that are bigger than a small house. There are times when the best route is to climb up and over the big ones.

As you hike deeper into the canyon, the scenery gets better. Steep canyon walls close in as you pass pools, some dry and some with water still flowing. Large ponderosa pines guard various sections and there are numerous spots for a quick bite or a longer rest. About two miles in, we came to a break with the canyon veering of to the left guarded by heavy cover and another canyon shooting off to the right. We went right and worked our way along the right side, even climbing up onto smooth shelves to make up some ground. We found a great perch for lunch and hung out there for about an hour.

From our lunch spot, we noticed the two large pines further up the canyon that appeared almost like sentries, marking the sharp left in the canyon and the trail to the top of Rainbow Wall. That hike is for another day.

Retrace your steps back to the trailhead when you have gone as far as you wanted.


Sorry, no video this time.

Great day on the trail with Brian, Trent and Christafa. Great workout for the legs. Trekking poles would make the descent a little easier. We covered about 5 miles in 4 hours! We even saw some mule deer off in the distance as crossed the open section in the beginning of the hike. A must-do follow up to this hike for the Trail Sherpa team will be the continuation to Rainbow Wall. Look for that one soon!


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I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.