White Rock Loop, Willow Springs Trailhead, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
White Rock Loop - 6.35 miles
Willow Springs Trailhead
|Round-Trip Length:||6.35 miles|
|Start-End Elevation:||4,575' - 5,442' (max elevation on loop)|
|Elevation Change:||+867' net elevation gain (1,110' total roundtrip elevation gain)|
White Rock Loop - 6.35 Miles Round-Trip
The White Rock Loop circles the White Rock Hills, a large sandstone complex on the north end of Red Rock Canyon at the base of La Madre Mountain. The La Madres are comprised of 500M year old Paleozoic limestone and dolostone (grey hues), which rise above 180M year old Jurassic sandstone (red and tan hues).
This anachronistic display is the result of major thrust faulting events that began 65M years ago when tectonic plates collided across the west, forcing much older rock over younger layers. These distinct rock types are pronounced as you rise through the gap on the Loop’s north side.
In addition to contrasting rock, the Loop passes through several ecotones that make it one of the most biologically diverse trails in the Conservation Area. High canyon walls and nearby springs support bighorn sheep, while kit fox and rattlesnakes are common in the low open desert.
Visitors will enjoy varied terrain, exceptional views, springs and anthropological sites on the White Rock Loop. The loop can be accessed from 3 points - White Rock Springs, Lost Creek and Willow Springs. The following description begins at Willow Springs and travels clockwise:
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’). Follow signs (right) at the Boundary sign for a short climb to the White Rock Loop Trail (1.12 miles : 4,867’).
The White Rock Loop splits right and narrows on single track along the White Rock Hills escarpment. It weaves quickly through pinyon-juniper woodlands that support a range of wildlife, and were particularly valuable to indigenous people. Native Americans harvested wood and pinyon pine nuts, a portable and malleable source of protein and fat.
The trail rises steadily to a saddle on the north side of the White Rock massif (2.65 miles : 5,446’), the Loop’s highest point. Agave is notably abundant at these elevations. The trail curls east and drops with rangy views from Turtlehead Peak to the Rainbow Mountains.
A rolling descent through blackbrush scrub leads to the Keystone Thrust Trail split (3.85 miles : 4,938’), just past which it crosses a wash into the White Rock Springs Trailhead (4.0 miles : 4,880’).
Cross the lot and continue down through a more sparsely vegetated creosote community. Views of North Peak, Bridge Mountain and Rainbow Mountain are exceptional as you wrap the south face of the White Rock Hills. This is a good stretch to see small mammals and reptiles.
The trail drops across the Grand Wash (5.2 miles : 4,420’) and rises steeply out to resume moderate travel to the Grand Circle Trail junction (5.7 miles : 4,528’).
Here it bends west and down to connections for Lost Creek (6.0 miles : 4,480’), and undulates mildly back to Willow Springs to complete the loop (6.35 miles).
This final leg is highlighted by an agave roasting pit, pictograph panel and a healthy collection of vegetation that benefits from proximity to the springs.
- N36 09.658 W115 29.924 — 0.0 miles : Willow Springs Picnic Area
- N36 09.940 W115 30.452 — .64 miles : Bear right on La Madre Springs Trail
- N36 10.299 W115 30.347 — 1.1 miles : La Madre Springs - White Rock Loop split
- N36 10.483 W115 30.082 — 1.5 miles : Moderate grade weaves through pinyon-juniper forest
- N36 10.809 W115 29.892 — 2.0 miles : Steady travel through forest
- N36 11.043 W115 29.668 — 2.5 miles : Rise above trees toward saddle
- N36 11.041 W115 29.535 — 2.7 miles : Reach saddle and loop's highest point
- N36 10.936 W115 29.128 — 3.1 miles : Rolling descent into blackbrush ecosystem
- N36 10.766 W115 28.839 — 3.5 miles : Moderate descent with great views across basin
- N36 10.520 W115 28.681 — 3.85 miles : Keystone Thrust Trail split
- N36 10.403 W115 28.651 — 4.0 miles : White Rock Springs Trailhead
- N36 10.230 W115 29.017 — 4.5 miles : Steady descent through open scrub
- N36 09.709 W115 29.098 — 5.2 miles : Cross Red Rock Wash
- N36 09.490 W115 29.302 — 5.7 miles : Grand Loop Trail split
- N36 09.494 W115 29.614 — 6.0 miles : Lost Creek access spur
- N36 09.655 W115 29.921 — 6.35 miles : Willow Springs Picnic Area
- La Madre Springs is a 1.5 mile roundtrip addition to this loop (+345' elevation gain). La Madre Springs is a great place to see wildlife including bighorn Sheep, mule deer, frogs and hummingbirds.
- 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.
- Moderate grades and good trail conditions make the White Rock Loop idea for trail running.
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
The White Rock Loop can be 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