Overview | Arnight Trail | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

The Arnight Trail runs from the Oak Creek Trailhead toward Pine Creek Canyon. It’s the most direct route from Oak Creek Canyon to Rainbow Mountain and Juniper Peak. 

In addition, the Arnight Trail is the Southernmost of 4 trails that run along the Eastern base of the Rainbow Mountains in Red Rock Canyon. From North to South these are:

  • The SMYC Trail 2-mile trail with an approximate 200ft elevation gain running between the lower Willow Spring parking area and Ice Box Canyon
  • Dales Trail 2.2-mile trail with an approximate 400ft elevation gain running between Ice Box Canyon and Pine Creek Canyon to the South
  • The Knoll Trail 1.9-mile trail with an approximate 50ft elevation gain running between Pine Creek Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon further South
  • The Arnight Trail A 1.2-mile short-cut split off of the Knoll Trail to the Oak Creek Canyon Trail.

Taken together, these trails offer the experience of hiking all the way along the Eastern base of the Rainbow Mountains between the Willow Spring area and Mt. Wilson. It’s an amazing experience of both Red Rock Canyon and the Rainbow Mountains that border the West side of the Canyon. Incidentally, you can also hike far above South/North along the Upper Crest Ridgeline of the Rainbow Mountains. Both routes put you in another world, but the lower baseline route is a good place the start vs. the far longer and more challenging Upper Crest Ridgeline.

Trailhead Directions | Arnight Trail | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Take the Highway 159/Red Rock Canyon exit off I-215. Take a right onto the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop. Circle the scenic loop nearly to the loop exit. The last trailhead turnoff is for the Oak Creek Trailhead. Take a right off the Scenic Drive Loop onto the unpaved Oak Creek Trailhead Road and travel about a half mile to the Oak Creek Trailhead. The Arnight Trail splits off to the right at the Oak Creek Trailhead, heading toward Pine Creek Canyon.

Adventure Description | Arnight Trail | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Once you turn off the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive onto the unpaved Oak Creek Canyon Road, you can park right there at the lower opening of the road or head up the road for about a half mile to The Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead. That stretch of unpaved road is very tame and any car could handle it. However, the walk up the half-mile road goes fast.

The Oak Creek Trailhead has a nice parking area with a restroom. There are two trail options from the trailhead:

  1. Oak Creek Canyon Trail: This trail heads West at the top of the parking area and is the shortest distance to Oak Creek Canyon. In about a half-mile the Oak Creek Canyon Trail connects with the Southern trailhead for The Knoll Trail, which branches off to the right heading North along the base of The Rainbow Mountains.
  2. Arnight Trail: This trailhead is on the West side of the parking area and heads diagonally to the Northwest eventually intersecting with The Knoll Trail in the Juniper Canyon area at the base of Juniper Peak.

Sunrise on The Arnight Trail

Taking The Arnight Trail from the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead at sunrise puts the Rainbow Mountains in the perfect orientation to the sun. The mountains are at their spectacular best with the colors of sunrise blending with the colors or the mountains. 

Arnight Trail Destinations

The trail itself is well constructed and well signed, making its brief length fairly easy. If your goal is rock climbing on the world-class Eastern cliffs of Rainbow Mountain or Southern cliffs of Juniper Peak, this is your approach trail. It’s also the most direct approach trail for those summiting Juniper Peak. An additional benefit is that the return trip when you’re tired after your adventure is down hill all the way!

When you reach Juniper Canyon (intersection with The Knoll Trail) you have three choices:

  1. The Eastern Cliffs of Rainbow Mountain: If this is your goal, stay high along the Southern edge of Juniper Canyon as you ascend that canyon and you will come across a very good rock climber’s approach trail that will take you all the way to the base of the cliffs. The rock climber’s approach trail to the Eastern cliffs of Rainbow Mountain is described and documented on video here. 
  2. The Southern Cliffs of Juniper Peak: If this is your goal, stay high on the North side of Juniper Canyon as you ascend that canyon. You’ll see a video of rock climbers on those cliffs at the same link above.
  3. Juniper Peak Summit: Head upward into Juniper Canyon staying more toward the lower North (right) side of the wash and heading toward a narrow opening above. The stretch between the Arnight Trail and that narrow opening of Juniper Canyon is clogged with thick brush. Once you reach the narrow opening, angle right and head up a large scree field and onward to Juniper Peak’s summit.

Juniper Canyon Landmark Boulder

There’s a large pointy landmark boulder at the base of Juniper Canyon not far from the intersection of The Arnight Trail with The Knoll Trail. This boulder, visible from high in the mountains, will help guide you to back to these trails for your return trip. I point this boulder out in the slide show and video on this page.

Continuing to Pine Creek Canyon and Beyond

Finally, if your goal is to continue to Pine Creek Canyon and possibly connect with the Dales Trail continuing further North on The Rainbow Mountains Eastern Baseline Trails, continue North on The Knoll Trail. You’re actually within less than a half-mile of Pine Creek Canyon at the North end of The Arnight Trail where it intersects with The Knoll Trail at Juniper Canyon.

Returning on The Old Historic Pine Creek Canyon Road

If you parked at the base of Oak Creek Canyon Road, where it meets The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive, a direct route from Juniper Canyon to that point is the historic Pine Creek Canyon approach road. This road is unmarked, and locating it can be a little tricky, but just head for a ridgeline that spans the distance between Juniper Canyon and the intersection of Oak Creek Canyon Road with The Red Rock Canyon Scenic Drive. The old road will soon appear. There’s also a large rock cairn landmark near the upper end of the old road.

Arnight Trail | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
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Arnight Trail | Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
The Arnight Trail in Red Rock Canyon, Nevada, may be the shortest route to your goal if you want to summit Juniper Peak or scale the Eastern cliffs of Rainbow Mountain. The Arnight Trail begins at the Oak Creek Canyon Trailhead and continues Northwest for 1.2-miles until it intersects with the Knoll Trail near the entrance of Juniper Canyon.
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