Friday, May 1, 2009

Explore the Owyhee Canyonlands - Idaho's newest wilderness and wild rivers area

China Ditch Trail

Hi all,

For this week's Tip of the Week, I intended to recommend hooking up with the Owyhee Canyonlands Coalition on go on a hike in the Owyhee Front. But as things turned out, the hike is already full and closed to additional people, so I'll recommend a hike from the Boise Trail Guide in Reynolds Creek that's super cool. It will still acquaint you with the kind of countryside that has been protected in the new Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness bill. This is a non-motorized hiking area that's also open to mountain biking and horseback riding. The area is managed by the BLM.

It's a moderate 7.5-mile hike from the Wilson Creek trailhead, south of Nampa, that begins with an easy 2.75-mile cruise over to scenic Reynolds Creek (redrock cliffs) and tours the China Ditch trail. Chinese laborers built some elaborate rock ditches on both sides of Reynolds Creek in this area to divert some of the creek water for irrigation. There is a trail (#600) on the embankment of the ditch that is great for hiking, and challenging for mountain biking. Take your time in here because it's really a neat and scenic spot. Great place to take a lunch break.

You'll climb upstream along the ditch trail for 1.5 miles, and then you'll regretably leave the canyon on Trail #510 to loop back to a junction with Trail #400, and cruise back over to the Wilson Creek Trailhead.

It took me 3.5 hours to do the full hike with my two boys aged 9 and 10 at the time. They loved throwing rocks into the creek along the China Ditch trail.

See an earlier blog post for a half dozen spring hikes close to home that are guaranteed to please ...

Here's a link to the Owyhee Canyonlands Coalition to hook up on another adventure in May to tour Idaho's newest wilderness and wild and scenic rivers in Owyhee County.

To get to the Wilson Creek Trailhead, take the freeway to Nampa, take the City Center exit, then go south on Idaho 45 to Walters Ferry at the Snake River. Cross the Snake, turn right on Idaho 78, and then watch for the Wilson Creek road (green sign) in a couple miles on the left. Take the Wilson Creek road to a trailhead on the left side of the road, and you're home free.

- SS