La Madre Springs, Willow Springs Trailhead, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
La Madre Springs - 3.7 miles
Willow Springs Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||3.7 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4575' - 5,232' (5,232' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+657' net elevation gain (+703' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
La Madre Springs - 3.7 Miles Round-Trip
La Madre Springs is located 1.85 miles from the Willow Springs Picnic Area in Red Rock Canyon. The springs flow from the base of La Madre Mountain into a dam built in the 1960s. They provide a critical water source for wildlife, and create a unique microhabitat for tree frogs, hummingbirds and a variety of plants that can survive nowhere else in this desert.
The hike is also distinguished by contrasting geology – 180 M year old sandstone of the White Rock Hills (south), and 230 M year old limestone of the La Madre Mountains (north). The younger sandstone is bright crimson and tan, while the tilted limestone mountains are striated in dull greys.
Visitors will enjoy diverse vegetation in a forest-like setting en route to the springs, and an excellent chance to see bighorn sheep and mule deer along this rare desert riparian corridor:
The trail heads northwest from Willow Springs on Rocky Gap Road, tracing Red Rock Wash to the La Madre Mountain Wilderness Boundary (.64 miles : 4,730’). Note large pinyon, juniper and oak lining the wash, and a marked agave roasting pit.
Follow signs (right) at the Wilderness Boundary on a short climb to the White Rock Loop Trail split (1.12 miles : 4,867’).
Keep left on the road-trail, which gradually steepens into a thick pinyon-juniper forest matted by manzanita in a diverse understory. Scan canyon walls for bighorn sheep, which are never too far from this reliable water source.
The trail emerges in a large sage field (1.4 miles) just before reaching spurs (1.5 miles : 5,046’) that lead to concrete slabs poured for homes, and later used by an archery club before acquisition by the BLM. Keep straight on a steady climb to the La Madre Springs dam (1.85 miles : 5,232’).
The dam is subjectively attractive, but the vicinity is very interesting. Sedges, reeds and wildflowers ring the pool and line its trickling tributaries, joined by a cacophony of frogs and hummingbirds drawn to redbud trees.
An unmarked but well-defined social trail continues up past the dam, a route that leads deeper into the La Madres to a seasonal waterfall and miners cabin. While travel is appreciably harder on this obfuscated singletrack, following it for a short bit is highly recommended to see more of the springs and unique ecological environment.
Interactive GPS Topo MapKey GPS Coordinates - DATUM WGS84
- N36 09.658 W115 29.924 — 0.0 miles Willow Springs Picnic Area
- N36 09.940 W115 30.452 — .64 miles : Bear right on the La Madre Springs Trail
- N36 10.299 W115 30.347 — 1.1 miles : La Madre Springs - White Rock Loop split
- N36 10.573 W115 30.244 — 1.5 miles : Spurs lead off to old archery area
- N36 10.848 W115 30.236 — 1.85 miles : La Madre Springs dam
- For those with time, consider returning to Willow Springs via the White Rock Loop. The total hike (La Madre Springs + Loop) is 7.8 miles.
- The Willow Springs Picnic Area is a significant ecological and anthropological site. Spend time exploring this rare desert oasis highlighted by Fremont cottonwood groves, and the agave pits and pictographs left by Native Americans.
Rules and Regulations
There's a $15 Daily Pass fee to enter Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area | $30 Annual Pass | America The Beautiful Passes are also accepted
The 13 mile Scenic Drive is open year round, with varying hours:
- November - February: 6 am - 5 pm
- March: 6 am - 7 pm
- April - September: 6 am - 8 pm
- October: 6 am - 7 pm
Directions to Trailhead
La Madre Springs is accessed from the Willow Springs Picnic Area in Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, just off of the Scenic Drive.
The Lost Creek-Willow Creek access road is located 6.9 miles from the Fee Station on the right side of Scenic Drive. Turn right and follow signs to the Picnic and Parking area.
Anticipate this turn: the Scenic Drive is one-way; if the turnoff is missed, you must drive the entire loop and re-enter the park to reach it.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Visitor Center (8 am - 4:30 pm):
BLM Southern Nevada District Office