Friday, December 4, 2020

Short Hike up Smith Creek, Mt. Moriah Wilderness, Nevada

Continuing with the theme of exploring the North Snake Range in White Pine County, Nevada, let's head up to Smith Creek. This drainage is on the east side and near the north end of the range. It's known for high limestone cliffs. 

To get there, turn off Highway 6 & 50 near the Utah-Nevada stateline on the road to Gandy. At about 17 miles, just past the Beck Place (homestead with bright red house), take the signed two-track raod about  7 miles. It's mostly in good shape, although there's a creek crossing when you get into the canyon (it's dry most of the year).

We reached the trailhead without incident, although we were surprised by numerous folks camping in the snow. You can see in the photo above what Desert Girl thought of the temperature.

We started hiking. It had been many years since I had been more than a half mile past the trailhead. I hadn't realized that the Hampton Fire of 2014 had burned the upper parts of Smith Creek Canyon. That was evident with this new gully.

Smith Creek Canyon is known for lots of limestone. There were holes all over the cliffs, some big, some small. 

The banding in the rock was really pretty.

Although some of the cliffs were in the sunshine, we were mostly walking in the shade.

Looking on the north side of the canyon, Desert Boy spotted what might be an ice waterfall (small) in the lower middle of the photo.

The trail follows an old road. The area is now part of Mt. Moriah Wilderness Area, so no motorized vehicles are allowed. Horses are allowed, and we saw recent horseprints and footprints.

The creek was dry until we reached the fourth crossing, about 1.5 miles up in a grove of cottonwoods. Here we found a little water.

Just on the other side we found such a thicket of rose bushes over the trail that we decided was enough. We had wanted to get to the junction with Deep/Deadman's Canyons, but we weren't willing to get our coats all torn up by the brambles. You can see how happy Desert Boy was to be whacking rose bushes out of the way.

So we turned back. Some trip reports I've read say you can go nearly four miles up the canyon, but that would require some bushwhacking at this point. Even on the lower trail I would recommend pants, the trail is not particularly well-defined.

Something to look for on the drive in/out is an arch on the south side of the canyon. 

As the topo map shows, there is so much more to explore. Unfortunately most of the trails shown on the map no longer exist, they are overgrown, burned over, or flooded out. Maybe someday some can be restored?
Smith Canyon is a lot more open than Hendry's Canyon, and the rock is totally different. It's a fun place to go for a shorter hike and awesome views.

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