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Red Rock Canyon is the perfect outdoor getaway from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas for any adventurer.
If you’re looking for a shorter, but challenging hike with incredible views of the gorgeously colored sandstone canyons in Red Rock, the Kraft Mountain (or Kraft Boulders) Loop Trail should be at the top of your list.
The Kraft Mountain Loop hike is 3.5 miles long, taking you around Kraft Mountain. You’ll hike up the canyon for breathtaking views of Red Rock, before scrambling down the vibrant and colorful ravine.
Since the Kraft Mountain Loop trail is located outside of Red Rock’s popular, and highly trafficked Scenic Drive, there is no fee or permit required to hike! Your time on this trail will be quieter and more intimate.
So if you’re in Las Vegas and looking for a free, rewarding hike to do in a half-day, head over to Red Rock Canyon and give the Kraft Mountain Loop trail a try.
Trail highlights: views, cactus, wildflowers
Tags: scramble, elevation gain, red rock canyon, rock climbing, free
No parking or permit fees required.
The Kraft Canyon Loop trailhead is located in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation, about 30-minutes from Las Vegas. Because this trail is outside of the Scenic Route, you don’t need to pay for any permits or daily passes.
Set your destination to Kraft Mountain parking lot in your GPS. The parking lot is long, narrow and large enough to park around 75 cars. However, if you can't find a parking spot, you can park along the side of the road that leads to the parking lot.
There are two trailheads for the Kraft Mountain Loop. To hike the loop counterclockwise, use the trailhead located closest to the parking lot entrance. Use the trailhead at the end of the parking lot to hike clockwise.
There aren’t any restrooms in the Kraft Mountain parking lot; however, as you drive to the trailhead, you’ll pass the Red Spring/Calico Basin parking lot, which has restrooms.
Trailhead coordinates: 36.1581, -115.4201
I ended up inadvertently hiking the Kraft Mountain Loop counterclockwise because I had parked next to that trailhead and stumbled upon it.
The first section of the trail is extremely well marked and easy to follow. Initially, the hike is relatively flat, where you’re surrounded by the resilient desert shrubbery and striped sandstone canyons.
As you pass a cluster of canyons on your right-hand side, you’ll even find several groups of rock climbers bouldering!
Soon enough, the elevation begins to change. You’ll hike upward on a relatively steep incline. But this part of the trail is unique because you’ll start to see more greenery as you pass different wildflowers and desert shrubs at this higher elevation.
As you climb, you’ll definitely feel the quads start to burn and the onset of the heavy mouth-breathing! Fortunately, the trail is well marked and relatively easy to get up, as long as you go at your own pace.
Once the trail levels off, take a look behind you. You’ll have spectacular views of Red Rock’s landscape, the scenery just embodying you. Take a moment to just breath in the fresh air and enjoy this feeling of being disconnected. You’ll feel so alive.
Continue hiking along the marked trail and you’ll notice the trail getting narrower, winding you through the red, orange and gray hues of the canyon swirling into each other.
Before descending, you’ll notice a dry, wide wash below you. This wash is made up of loose gravel and requires a little extra work from those calves.
Navigating through the wash is a little trickier than I originally expected. It’s easy to question whether you’ve missed the trail (or if you’re even on the right trail!) to hike back down to the parking lot.
Admittedly, I hiked too far along the rocky wash, bearing right (instead of continuing straight), and ended up getting lost. Fortunately, I backtracked to where the wash split and followed other hikers onto the right trail.
Pro Tip: Make sure to download a copy of the trail map (or take a photo of the map at the trailhead) before you start your hike. There is no service in Red Rock Canyon.
So don’t get lost like me hiking the wash! Follow the wash for about 1 mile. The wash then splits; one path leading straight ahead, the other bearing right. Continue straight. You’ll know you’re on the right trail if it starts to change from larger, loose gravel to a more, well-packed path.
After about 0.5 miles along this trail, you’ll notice the terrain changing. You’ll begin descending down the ravine, the path not so easily marked. You’ll scramble down several sections of the colorful, red sandstone canyons. You are officially hiking around the basin of Kraft Mountain!
As you make your way down Kraft Mountain, you’ll have insane views of Red Rock’s magnificent, red canyons. This area is also incredibly shaded, giving you a nice break from the beaming sun.
If you’ve got weak knees like me, take your time as you scramble down the boulders. Enjoy nature’s colors and the canyons that stand tall around you. With the view and the shade, it’s a great place to rest and enjoy a snack!
Pro Tip: It’s easy to get lost as you descend the ravine. Just continue hiking downward, following the direction of the ravine. You’ll eventually end up at the parking lot!
As you hike out of Kraft Mountain’s basin, you’ll know you’re in the right spot when you start to see more and more people. As you exit the trail, you’ll notice two other trails merging here, You’ll notice two other trails merging here as well, the Ash Spring and Girl Scout trails.
Before exiting the trail, look back to see the route you’ve just hiked. It’s a crazy feeling when you realize that you’ve just hiked in between two tall and majestic canyons.
Pro Tip: Deciding on whether to hike the Kraft Mountain Loop trail clockwise or counterclockwise is up to you:
Craving some fresh air and a challenging hike near Las Vegas? Hit up the Kraft Mountain (Kraft Boulder) Loop trail in the Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area. Although short, this challenging hike gives you incredible views of the colorful sandstone canyons from different perspectives.
And the best part? Since this trail is outside Red Rock’s popular Scenic Loop Drive, no permit is required AND your hike will be more intimate.
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