By Norm Kresge
Potato Knoll is a hike of about 4.5 miles round trip. It’s not a standard out-and-back hike but one that goes to the base of the Potato Knoll, loops around the knoll, and then returns on the same trail to the parking area.
There are a couple of ways to do this hike. The best way is to park along SR 159 at the first dirt parking area past the exit from the Scenic Drive (about ¼ mile past the exit). The trail heads toward the knoll — the Potato Knoll that is sometimes called Wilson’s Pimple.
The first part of the hike is on an old road. About ¾ of a mile out as you head toward Oak Creek, the trail forks to the left. Follow this fork as you hike across the fl at part of this area and then down some steps that bring you to Oak Creek.
There may be water depending on the time of year. After crossing the creek, the trail continues until you come to a large juniper tree where the trail meets another one. Follow the trail to the right and it will bring you around to an area where you’ll have some elevation gain and some rocky going.
Along this part, you’ll pass the remnants of a wooden sled that was used to haul sandstone out of the area when there was a quarrying operation here. A little later, you’ll pass some petrified wood off the trail on your right side at the crest of this uphill section. For the next part of the hike, you’ll be going along the base of the knoll and the terrain is flat.
When you get to the far side of the knoll, you head to the right as you meet the Oak Creek Trail that comes in from the highway. Keep right and you have a short rise to hike up. In this area, you can see the remnants of a concrete entryway for Rhea’s Quarry operation. If you’re interested, you can read more about this quarrying in Seekers, Saints & Scoundrels: The
Colorful Characters of Red Rock Canyon.
When you reach the high point on this side of the knoll, you’re at a place that’s good to take a break and have a snack.
In front of you is a view of Oak Creek Canyon and the area has a lot of juniper and some pine. Continuing on the trail, you’ll see it fork to the right. Take that right turn and follow it and you’ll join a trail that comes from Oak Creek. Stay to your right and keep going around the knoll.
You will cross Oak Creek two or three times. This part of the creek is more likely to have water in the spring. After another mile or so, you come back to that juniper tree you saw when you came to the trail junctions. Turn left here and this will bring you back to the old road where you make a right and head back to your car.
This is a cooler weather hike with some shade at the snack area. Remember to take enough water.
Hiking boots are best for this trail although I’ve seen people hike it in sneakers.
One of the bonuses of this hike is you don’t have to drive the Scenic Drive after you’re done to get back to Las Vegas. It’s also a less used trail and you’re not as likely to see many other people.
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