Summary: Climbers will know Fern Canyon from the Dark Shadows climb. Most climbers follow the upper path, which is a dirt/rock trail that works it way WNW under cliffs N of Pine Creek. If you enjoy bouldering, I highly recommend you follow the stream up the canyon instead or you could easily miss the many ponds, pools, ferns, and lush vegetation. Use the dead pine in the photo as a landmark for when to leave the dirt/rock trail and enter the streambed. Follow the stream PAST the climbers launch for Dark Shadows, and turn the corner heading W into the canyon as the cliffs narrow above (N of Mescalito). As the canyon narrows, continue bouldering (class II and III), or scramble up the many game trails (very steep and rocky) to the end of the canyon (ends in seasonal waterfall). Don't feel bad if you don't make it to the end -- this is about 6 miles RT from the parking lot and gets very rough in the end. Instead, enjoy the incredible sights and sounds, many rest/lunch spots.
Trailhead: Be advised that the USGS topo does NOT accurately reflect the location of the scenic loop road within Red Rock National Conservation Area. 18 miles W of Las Vegas Blvd. on Charleston Ave (SR 159) to Red Rock entry (fee) station. Take the scenic loop to Pine Creek parking (fills up early). Descend steep trail down hill and head W towards Pine Creek till you pass Old Wilson Homestead (concrete foundation S of trail). Continue W on trail until fork in road, take N (right) fork and head NNW - see photo. Continue on trail into the north canyon of Pine Creek (stay right of Mescalito), look for landmark dead pine still standing - see photo, head up stream for bouldering route. If you MUST hike in the summer, be sure and hike early and be out of the canyon by 9 a.m. -- do NOT hike in the afternoon in the summer. Although there is water, do not drink it, bring plenty of water for yourself and your dog. If this trail is too rough, try the S fork instead and forget Fern C. (Lat:36.12776 Lon:-115.47125)
Trail Guides for Fern Canyon:
Hiking Around Las Vegas
by Jim Boone (Jim L. Boone)
120 Best Hikes in Southern Nevada and Beyond (CD)
by Branch Whitney (Branch Whitney)
Best Seasons: Fall, Spring, Winter,
User Groups: Hikers, Dogs,
Ranger Contact: Red Rock (BLM) ranger at entry to NCA (fee station) 702-515-5950
Localhikes Reporter: This hike was submitted by Kat Green, who has posted 86 other hikes on this site
Trail Reviews Page 1 of 2 Submit your own review
Reviewed by RICK F. on 7/7/2012
I FIRST TOOK THIS HIKE TO FERN CREEK BUT WE CALLED IT PINE CREEK THEN AND WHAT A HIKE IT WAS!THE YEAR WAS 1974 AND I WAS 21 Y.O. AND LAS VEGAS POPULATION WAS ABOUT 100K.I WAS A HIPPIE AT HEART AND A FRIEND DESCEIBED THIS PLACE TO ME AND I COULDNT BELEIVE A PLACE LIKE THIS EXISTED WITHIN 30 MI. FROM VEGAS. AT THAT TIME THIS AREA HADNT HAD ANY OF THE IMPROVEMENTS DONE TO IT BY THE GOVERMENT AGENCIES WHICH WAS GREAT THEN,NO SIGNS AND WARNINGS LIKE DONT DO THIS AND DONT DO THAT,YOU KNOW WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT!IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A PLACE OF INDESCIBEABLE BEAUTY AND THIS AREA HAS PLANTS AND WILD LIFE THAT IS SO RARE THAT YOU WILL BE IN AWE THE ENTIRE HIKE.WATERFALLS,BEAUTIFULL POOLS TO SWIM IN.
Reviewed by RICK FIMAN on 4/21/2012
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Reviewed by Ramy on 3/15/2011
A few weeks ago my hiking buddy, dog and I went up the creek - until the bouldering got tough... tried to explore another different way down but came up against the canyon walls and ended up following the stream back. Beautiful, some water running, things are starting to bloom out back there. Will definitely try again. Loved the area!
Reviewed by Elizabeth on 2/14/2011
Was a nice hike and saw some mini ponds and tiny waterfalls. Great from picnics!!!
Reviewed by Lesley on 1/21/2009
So my buddy and I made it to the end of the canyon with the waterfall. We had a great time and especially loved the boulders. This truly was impressive and a blast. I definitely recommend this trail to anyone who enjoys adventure and a bit of a challenge. The directions that were provided were fantastic and made the trail easy to find and follow. I am curious as to where the waterfall orginates and it is possible to climb up the side of the canyone and walk a little farther. Will do next time and report back.
Reviewed by Shannon on 9/12/2007
Well I tried it again(later in 2006). I made it all the way to the fall this time it was a little tough the last mile, but well worth it. The water fall was flowing and was beautiful. Had a nice lunch at the pool below the fall. Took some great pics.
Reviewed by David on 5/20/2007
We enjoyed this hike. We went up stream to the base of the big mountain in the middle. We saw more nature than anyother hike, so far. Squirrels, snakes, tadpoles and lots of frogs. Bouldering it was a blast. Right up the stream. We had lunch at the homestead. The weather was perfect and not a lot of people. Next time, farther up. Everyone should give this hike a try. It is worth it!!!
Reviewed by TSMJ on 5/24/2006
Not sure if I gave this a fair chance. Not impressed with the abundance of people or the mile of sandy/rocky man-made trail to get to anything truly challenging. Immediate and distant scenery very impressive and worth the trip just for the photo-op's. Hard to compare, though, having just done the Grapevine Canyon Trail. Not much else compares.
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