First Creek Canyon and Falls Hike (RRCNCA)

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This page last updated on 03/09/2017

(Fig. 01)
MAP-First Creek Trail-2
(Fig. 02)

Destination: First Creek Trailhead
Distance from Point of Origin: 26.5 miles.
Estimated (One Way) Travel Time: 35-40 minutes.
Directions: Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino, take a right onto Las Vegas Blvd south (the Strip) to Sahara Ave. Turn right onto West Sahara Ave (NV-589) and continue to follow W. Sahara Ave for 10 miles until it turns into Desert Foothills Drive. Continue on for about 4.5 miles and turn left onto NV-159 W. Charleston Blvd. Continue to follow West Charleston Blvd NV-159 (which becomes aka Blue Diamond Road) west for about 9 miles and turn right to the trailhead and parking area (Fig. 02). Note: The trailhead can be reached from the south by driving west on Hwy 160 (Pahrump Highway) to Highway 159 (Blue Diamond Road). Turn right onto Highway 159 and drive north for about 7 miles, passing the entrance to Spring Mountain Ranch to the parking area on the left..

Area Description
: This hike is wrestled between Oak Creek and Spring Mountain Ranch (Fig. 02) in the middle of the desert Cottonwood Valley, beneath the towering red-and-white Wilson Cliffs in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.. From the trailhead, the first part of the hike runs thru and area that was burned in a wildfire. However, further out the landscape is heavily vegetated with Mojave Desert Scrub vegetation. At and intersection, the main trail leads (left) into First Creek Canyon; a less defined “use-trail” heads (right) toward a small waterfall and plunge pool (when in season).
Special Attraction or Point of Interest: First Creek Canyon is home to a very well known secret: the waterfall. But most people will never see it because it’s quite well hidden. Turning right at the junction (Fig. 02), the “use-trail” trail ends at a little waterfall that is surrounded by cottonwood trees, desert willows, and other shade trees around a large plunge pool cut into the surrounding conglomerate rock. 
Primary Activity: Hiking and Photography
Secondary Activities: Bird watching. Also be on the lookout for wild burros.

Elevation: The elevation at the trailhead is 3,661 feet. Elevation at the waterfall is 3,831 feet.
Best Time To Visit: Early Spring.
Hike Description: This is a out-and-back hike. The hike to the waterfall is 1.2 miles. The trail that continues into First Creek Canyon and the First Creek Spring will add another 0.5 miles that requires some moderate boulder scrambling. Difficulty: Hiking across the well defined trails across the desert valley are considered easy. Once you reach wash in First Creek Canyon there will be some moderate to difficult scramble-ups depending upon how far up the canyon you hike.
Facilities: None
Estimated Round-trip Time: The complete round-trip hike to both the waterfall and into the canyon is about 3.5 miles and will take about 2 hours, depending upon how much time you want to spend taking pictures and enjoying the solitude and beauty of the surrounding area.  .
For more detailed information on the Wilson Cliff and Cottonwood Valley go to … Wilson Cliffs & Cottonwood Valley.
(Fig. 03)
03/03/2016 Trip Notes: Today, Robert Croke, Blake Smith and myself decided to return to First Creek Canyon in the Red Rock National Conservation Area for a second hike in hopes of seeing water at the location of the creek's waterfall. Unfortunately, even though there was considerable water flowing down First Creek, and the "plunge pool" below the area of the creek's "pour-over"/waterfall contained much more water than on our previous visit, there was no water flowing over the pour-over area. This was still yet another great morning hike, and provided many more additional picture taking opportunities. Click the following link for pictures and a description of this hike ... First Creek Canyon Hike - 03/03/2016 Trip Notes.

12/01/2015 Trip Notes: Today, Blake Smith, Robert Croke, Ron Ziance and I decided to head out to Cottonwood Valley to hike the First Creek Trail. At the trailhead (Fig. 02) the trail winds through a gate (Fig. 03), then bends southwest and crosses Oak Creek Wash. From the trailhead, seen in (Fig. 01), Indecision Peak (6,240) is on the left; in the middle at the back of the canyon is First Creek Peak (5,990); and on the right is White Pinnacle Peak (5,550). Heading westward across the gently sloping valley, about 400 feet after crossing the wash, the trail enters an area that burned in a 2006 wildfire (Fig. 04). Though some vegetation is growing back, most of the Joshua trees and other shrubby vegetation is gone. Beyond the fenced burned area, the trail begins to wander through a variety of shrubs, Joshua trees, Mojave yucca, creosote bush and blackbrush (Fig. 05). We even began to spot birds taking refuge in some of the cactus (Fig. 06). Click here to read more about this bird ... Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus). When we looked to the north (right), we could see First Creek Wash a few hundred yards in the distance.  About 0.4 miles out the trail crosses a north-south trending use-trail. The trail south leads to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, and the trail north connects with a network of trails in the Oak Creek Canyon area (Fig. 02). As the trail generally runs straight towards the mouth of First Creek Canyon, it slowly angles closer to the wash. About a mile out you encounter a junction. The main trail runs (left) toward First Creek Canyon. At the fork, take the use-trail northwest, to the right. Follow this trail about 0.10 mile toward the wash and the waterfall. Once we reached the top edge of the wash (Fig. 07), trying to ascertain exactly what the “trail” is became quite difficult. As you can see from (Fig. 07) First Creek is quite deep and wide. As it turned out, we bypassed a steep trail that led down into the bottom of the wash. (con’t below)
(Fig. 04)
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
Instead of heading down into the wash, we continued to follow the top south edge of the wash which eventually let us to the upper edge of the falls. Standing here, Bob peered over to take a picture (Fig. 08). By peering over this 20 foot ledge, you could see where the large plunge pool area was located, which actually had a little water in it (Fig. 09). After taking in this area we decided to continue following the upper wash area towards the mouth of the canyon (Fig. 10). Along the way we spotted a variety of interesting items; some extremely water eroded trees (Figs. 11 & 12), some unusual rocks and formations (Figs. 13 & 14), as well as some lizards and rabbits. Just as we neared a place where we thought we might be able to climb up out of the wash, we came upon the First Creek Spring (Figs. 15 thru 18). We were quite surprised that the water was actually running down the wash at a steady clip. Several pools of water were so wide and deep, that we had to do some rock hopping to cross the area without getting our shoes wet. Even for this time of year, it was amazing to us that this area was still so lush and green. It seems obvious that during the spring months, when water from winter’s melting snows is flowing, this desert area must be blooming with color. Eventually, we had to work out way up and out of the wash (Fig. 19) to find the trail leading back to the trailhead. Another trail hiker we met that was returning from deeper into the canyon informed us that he had spotted a herd of 12 Bighorns up on the cliff of the south wall of the canyon. He even show us some of the pictures he had taken. Even with this disappointment, we all had a great day and can’t wait to go back here in the Spring.
(Fig. 08)
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(Fig. 18)
EFP-First Creek Stitch
(Fig. 19)