First Creek Trail at Red Rock
First Creek Overview
The First Creek hike, just outside of the Red Rock National Conservation Area, is an amazingly simple and easy hike that just about anyone can do to either get into the hiking spirit or for those who just want a low effort day.
This out and back hike stays flat nearly the entire way up until you hit the grotto, which hides a nice little waterfall.
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First Creek Trail Information
Distance: According to the track we ran, First Creek trailhead to the grotto was 2.8 miles. According to the Red Rock website, First Creek can go up to 4 miles but we cut it short due to the heat, as well as the grotto waterfall being a more interesting place to end than the official trail ending.
Route Type: Out and Back (If you are not familiar with this term, read more about Types of Hiking Trail.)
Elevation Gain: Much like the rest of this hike, the elevation gain is very gradual and user-friendly so you don’t have to worry about walking at an angle the entire trip.
According to our track, we gained a total of 315 feet which feels like nothing when spread out over a few miles.
Time Needed To Complete: Even with a 15-minute break at the end, the hike only took us around an hour and a half to complete but you should budget around two hours just in case you want to take a longer break.
Difficulty: Easy. The trail is made up of dirt and small rocks which is typical of most of the trails in this area.
While First Creek may not have official hours posted, as far as I’m aware, you should follow the hours of operations of Red Rock Canyon just to be safe.
The hours of operations for Red Rock Canyon are as followed:
Nov – Feb – 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM
March – 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Apr – Sep – 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Oct – 6:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Parking at First Creek
Parking at First Creek is a little rough in that there are no formal parking spots or parking lots. The parking at First Creek consists of a slope or hill at the trailhead just off the side of the road.
First Creek is a non-permitted hike which means it is absolutely free to hike beside the gas money it takes you to get there.
No permits are required for this hike because it is located outside of the Red Rock National Conservation Area.
Best Time of Year to Hike
The best time of the year to hike First Creek would be anytime that isn’t summer. In the spring and fall, the weather is warm but not too hot so you can enjoy the creek if it’s flowing without scorching yourself to get there. Hiking First Creek in the winter, while not as nice as spring or fall, is still possible and enjoyable just because it’s a very easy hike without any real technicality to it.
The reason why I would try to avoid hiking First Creek in the summer is that there is little to no cover from the sun and if you’ve hiked in that area before, you know that temperatures can reach 110 fairly quickly. Another reason why hiking First Creek in the summer can be a bummer is that the water may not be flowing, or flowing enough to justify hiking in the Vegas heat to get there.
Best time of Day to Hike
Depending on the time of year you hike, there are different times that work better for hiking First Creek. Much like most hikes, you want to start semi-early in the day while avoiding starting a hike too late in the afternoon because of the potential of getting caught out overnight if anything goes wrong.
Hiking in the spring and fall lends itself well to starting sometime in the late morning, around 10 am because it allows the area to heat up a little bit if you’re worried about the brisk nights carrying over into the day.
If you decide to hike in the summer, start as soon as you can because as stated before, it gets super hot super fast and there aren’t many trees to hide under. As far as winter hiking goes, I’d probably start mid-day to let the sun knock off the winter chill a bit. Do note that Vegas does tend to get windy in the winter months so a windbreaker might be needed if you hike then.
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Points of Interest
First Creek isn’t the most awe-inspiring hike you’ll ever do simply because it’s a flat trail that leads to the base of the mountains, but the grotto and waterfall are cool places to go.
To get to the grotto look for a tree near the coordinates of 36.079735, -115.464554 and turn towards the creek (to the right if you are heading into the hike) until you see another large tree and then head down the bank following the conglomerate wall to the bottom to find the grotto and waterfall.
Wildlife at First Creek
Wildlife on the First Creek Trail is about the same as the rest of the Red Rock area.
Food And Water Requirements
With this being an out and back hike that can be done within a couple of hours, packing exorbitant amounts of food and water isn’t necessary unless you feel like you’ll need it.
When I do this hike, I will typically bring three liters of water but I’ll only usually go through about one and a half, maybe two.
As far as food goes, your typical hiking food like trail mix, jerky, sandwiches, and dried fruit will be perfectly fine to take.
There are no trash cans on the hike so be prepared to pack your own trash out.
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What to Take to First Creek
When it comes to packing and prepping for this hike, a good pair of hiking boots or tennis shoes and water are the only must-haves to complete First Creek.
Even though the trail is simple, I always pack my hiking essentials which include my backpack, boots, water, sunscreen, a scarf or shemagh, and some snacks.
Because First Creek is in the middle of Red Rock, always pack more water than you need even if it’s an easy hike especially in the summertime. When people get lost or injured while hiking out there it isn’t the lack of food that gets them, it’s water.
Animals are allowed at First Creek as long as they are on a leash the entire time.
It should go without saying, but you also have to pick up after your animal as well.
Yes, First Creek is a very kid-friendly trail because of how flat and easy it is.
While it may not be the most exciting trail in Las Vegas, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another trail that is as easy while maintaining a decent route distance.
Restrooms at First Creek
The First Creek Trailhead has basically nothing when it comes to amenities. There are no bathrooms or trashcans, just a sign talking about the trail and a barbed wire fence to guide you to the path.
Cell Phone Service at First Creek
Cell phone service at First Creek is a little spotty at places but that could be dependant on which carrier you have. I have ATT and there were dead spots as well as spots with service so don’t start First Creek with the intention of having to rely on cell service.