If you ever wake up with a need to hear running and falling FRESH water (and you don't have a fountain in your backyard), then Waterfall Canyon is the place for you to go!
Nine hikers set out from the Willow Springs parking area off of the Red Rock Canyon Scenic Loop to hike a 6.3 mile loop which began in the wash which lies at the end of the picnic area. First, we hiked across the wash to the rock wall where there was a set of petroglyphs. After viewing the ancient Indian pictographs, we headed up the wash which began as a wide gravelly path up the mountain which runs parallel to Rocky Gap Road. Eventually, the gravel turned into small boulders, then larger boulders, then, finally, we were really bouldering up the wash on short steep climbs. This wash is more interesting than it appears from Willow Springs.
About 2.7 miles later, after climbing through a short distance of water, we climbed out of the wash to the right. (The trail on the left, marked by a cairn, leads up to the North Peak Sandstone.) We arrived on the Rocky Gap Road and turned to hike downhill for about half a mile where water crosses the dirt road. Here, we turned left to hike up the small canyon following the beautiful running stream called Waterfall Canyon. Word has it that this stream has been flowing throughout the year as long as anyone in the hiking group can remember.
Waterfall Canyon runs at a fairly steep angle and provides many terraces with waterfalls in between. The trail leads up beside the stream, crossing here and there. Occasionally, the hiker must climb up the slope to avoid steep canyon walls on either side of the stream. The waterfalls flow over limestone which is colored orange and rust by the deposits flowing down from the upper regions.
Photographic opportunities abound!
The final waterfall of our adventure into this beautiful canyon was a 25 foot waterfall about a quarter mile up. It was the Granddaddy of them all! It flowed with a swooping motion over the limestone. At the top, there were great places to perch and eat a snack. Although there were pictographs in the stream at the top of the falls, we had some question as to whether these were ancient or mischievously modern.
Susan demonstrates one way to reach the top of the final falls. Others, climbed up the path on the right! After taking our break, we hiked back down to the road and finished our hike downhill with about 2.25 miles on Rocky Gap Road to arrive at the Willow Springs picnic area around 4 hours after we started.
Below, you see a GPS waypoint map placed on the Google Earth picture. The name of the canyon we were in is not Oak Creek and I believe this is a misprint. At the start and finish of our hike, the GPS took another wayward bounce into the hills to the south so, to eliminate the misleading line, we turned the map around. North is located to the lower right in this picture.