The Needles District offers over 60 miles of interconnecting trails as challenging as they are rewarding. Conditions are primitive. Most trails traverse a mixture of slickrock benches and Sandy washes. Longer trails are especially rough and require negotiating steep passes with drop-offs, narrow spots, or ladders.
Water in the backcountry is unreliable and scarce in some areas. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Although most trails can be hiked in a day by strong hikers, many form loops and may be combined with other trails for longer trips. Net elevation change is generally several hundred feet or less, except for the Lower Red Lake Trail, which drops 1,400 feet to the Colorado River.
Lower Red Lake Canyon
Length: 18.8 mi/30 km round-trip
Start: Elephant Hill Trailhead
The hike from Elephant Hill to the Colorado River is very strenuous, with an elevation change of 1,400 feet. There is little shade along the way as the trail climbs in and out of the Grabens and then descends the steep talus slope of Lower Red Lake Canyon toward the river. This trail is recommended as a multi-day hike. At-large camping only. No water before reaching the river.