Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Osceola Ditch Hike in Great Basin National Park

The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive in Great Basin National Park recently opened to the Osceola Ditch, so I took the kids up one day to go hike the trail. I had mentioned the Osceola Ditch in my April Nevadagram post, and I wanted to see it again. The ditch was built from in 1889-1890 and covered 18 miles, from Lehman Creek, around the mountain to Mill Creek, Strawberry Creek, Weaver Creek, and over to Osceola. The ditch had a slight downhill grade to keep the water moving in the desired direction. Wooden flumes were built over rocky sections, and a tunnel was blasted through a hill near Strawberry Creek. The ditch managed to get water to Osceola for gold mining operations, but it didn't last long. Mild, dry winters meant less water for the ditch in 1892, and by 1901 the Osceola Ditch was abandoned. 

Today it's a nice trail from the pull off on the Scenic Drive to Strawberry Creek. The hike is 5.2 miles one-way, but we planned to just go as far as we wanted (or as far as I could get the kids to go). I enticed the kids with the promise of a snowball fight.

We found snow immediately, and the kids were delighted.

I got pelted, but had fun returning some snowballs.

Desert Girl also made a snow angel.

After we hiked 1/3 mile from the trailhead, we met up with the ditch. Most of the trail is easy, but Desert Girl wanted to take the hard way.

If there's an obstacle, she's there.

It's easy to imagine water running along the ditch. There are reports of miners fishing the ditch. The ditch probably helped Bonneville cutthroat trout get from Lehman Creek into Mill Creek. Decades later, Mill Creek served as a source population of Bonneville cutthroat trout for reintroductions into several other creeks.

Desert Boy found a fun rock outcropping along the way.

We took a time out for a grass fight.

I also enjoyed the flowers, like this tiny Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia parvifolia).

Nearby was its frequent companion, slender phlox (Microsteris gracilis).

We kept hiking until we found snow blocking the way. Then the kids spent an awesome 20 minutes playing in the snow. It was at least a couple feet deep and they loved jumping into it and then unburying themselves.

On the way back we admired some of the wooden flume, now just pieces of wood.

It's a great trail to hike. It's one of the few that isn't steep, so that really makes it stand out. The history behind it is also fascinating. If you get far enough, a road parallels (or is on top of) the ditch, making the hiking even easier. Large snowdrifts often persist into early June. I'm thinking I will return to this trail later in the summer and see how it works for a trail run.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

blogger templates