If you are doing an out-and-back from the park entrance, it is about a 15 mile run. There are no places to refill hydration pack along the trail, so start off with enough water to get you through this run.
The trailhead is about 0.5 miles from the west entrance on the right side of the Valley of Fire highway. The trail is marked with an arrowhead on one side and a hiker on the other attached to a post about 4 ft in height. These signs are found throughout the trail, and you can't go more than 0.25 miles without seeing one.
This trail is not well maintained in certain places, so it is very easy to go off route, miss a sign and think a wash is the trail. Throughout this trail, you'll cross many washes, so be aware of this fact. The trail consists of mostly single and doubletrack. To start, about 1 mile into the trail, you'll pass some cool red rocks just to your left as the trail bends around these formations. At about 1.5 miles into the trail, you'll cross your first of many washes. (Side note, this first wash can be used as an alternate route. It follows adjacent to the actual trail and pretty much stays to the left of the trail, if you're heading west to east, for the next ~4 miles until you re-intercept the Arrowhead Trail with the sign on the left side of the wash up on a small embankment at about the 5-5.5 mile mark. If you follow this wash, you'll notice it spans out nearly 100 ft wide in some places. This wash is very manageable, consisting of mostly compact gravel and hard dirt/clay. I would consider it just as good as the trail itself, and you are less likely to make a wrong turn. This wash does have some tripping hazards like exposed fiber optic cables, so be careful).
If you stay on trail, I marked this first wash crossing with a rock pile; hopefully, you have success crossing your first wash. You'll notice on this trail, it can be difficult to determine if you are still on trail. If you scan the horizon, you can usually spot your next trail sign off in the distance which will keep you on the path. The Trail Run Project mobile app
is pretty accurate as well, so if your carrying your phone and see that you drifted from the route then you might want to retrace steps.
At mile ~5, you'll cross that same giant wash mentioned as alternate route. Once you get across this wash and see the sign on embankment, the terrain changes into a darker rock/clay and its very scenic over the next mile (easy to lose the trail on this section) until you eventually hit the V. of F. highway. Cross the street and continue heading west for about 0.25 miles where you'll come upon a dirt parking area leading to entrance to Elephant Rock Loop
, a very sandy and a bit rocky, but the most enjoyable section of the trail.
Bighorn sheep and wild rabbits abound. This trail is preferable in the winter when temps are cooler. The trail spans the Nevada desert, so I would avoid running it in the middle of the summer. In the summer, you always have to keep your head on a swivel for rattlesnakes as well.