China Ranch - Date Farm - Trip Notes for 02/28/2018

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This page last updated on 02/28/2018
(Fig. 01)

Directions: From Las Vegas the China Ranch/Date Farm is approximately 77 miles. Take Interstate 15 South to highway 160. Go west (toward Pahrump) to Tecopa Highway. Go west on Tecopa Highway (which becomes Old Spanish Trail Highway in California) to Furnace Creek Road, turn left. Follow the signs to China Ranch.

02/28/2018 Trip Notes: Today Bob Croke, Harvey Smith, Ron Ziance and I took a trip out to the China Date Ranch for a day of hiking and some fresh baked date bread. After crossing over the Spring Mountain Pass on Route 160, we were surprised to see that the desert floor and the southwest side of the Spring Mountain Range was cover with a dusting of fresh snow (Figs. 02 & 03). Once we reached the date ranch, because Ron had never been here before, we decided to re-hike two areas that the rest of us had hiked on previous visits; the Slot Canyon Trail (Fig. 04) and a portion of the Ranch View Trail (Fig. 05). Descriptions for each of these hikes follow the maps shown below. (Trip notes con't below)

(Fig. 02)

(Fig. 03) This view was taken by Bob Croke

(Fig. 04)
Description of the Slot Canyon Trail: About 4 miles round trip, this is the longest but possibly the most rewarding of the hikes. It involves an elevation drop and then gain of about 350 feet over its course (Fig. 04). From the gift shop, walk straight down the canyon. When the trail forks, bear to the right. Note: Going to the let at the BLM marker takes you to the Cliff Trail. The trail to the right takes you past the crumbling historical assay office/saloon building. Continue on to the Acme Siding, an ore loading site, a stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater railroad from 1905 until 1938. From Acme, follow the cairn-marked trail to the right down off the Mesa, then turn right and continue on. The trail leads up and over the T&T railroad grade, then down to the Amargosa river. Walk down stream and find the place where you can rock hop across the river. After crossing, bear to the right and walk up the large wash which drains into the Amargosa River. At the top of the wash you will enter a narrow twisting slot canyon eroded into the igneous rhyolite rock. The path is eventually blocked by two boulder strewn vertical dry falls, ten to fifteen high. Skillful climbers can pull themselves up with hands and feet, but there is a danger of falling. More cautious hikers will turn back at this point. From the Acme Siding and ore, hike in a south easterly direction and follow the Willow Creek to a point that pretty much dead ends your hiking. Then turn around and head back to the trail, hiking back to the Bakery and Gift Shop.

(Fig. 05)

Description of the Ranch View Trail: From the gift shop, this more challenging loop trail is more than two miles (Fig. 05) and includes an elevation gain, and then loss, of about four hundred feet over its course. After hiking up the road past the date grove to a spot overlooking the reservoir, then turn right and walk down the flood levee and then up onto the spine of the small hills directly in front of the of you. You then begin to hike the trail up a few short, steep sections and then begin hiking along a high and narrow ridge back to the orchard, shown in yellow on the map in (Fig. 03). This is not recommended for anyone who has vertigo or problems with heights. The views to your right along this ridge presents a spectacular view down the length of China Ranch (Fig. 01), and to your left a small slot canyon incised into the soft clay sediments by intermittent flash floods. Follow the ridge all the way to its end it descends down until it reaches the lower date grove. Then return down the road back to the gift shop.

Trip Notes Continued: Since our previous visit here someone has taken to lining both sides of the trails with rocks (Fig. 06). The trail took us past the crumbling historical assay office/saloon building (Fig. 07). Continuing on we came to the top of a Mesa, the site of the Acme Siding, that looks town on the old ore loading site that was a stop on the Tonopah and Tidewater railroad from 1905 until 1938 (Fig. 08). Looking northwest from this viewpoint you can see the remains of the old railroad beds (Fig. 09).

Due east of the Mesa was a great view of the area of the Cliff Trail (Fig. 10). From Acme we followed the cairn-marked trail to the right down off the Mesa (Fig. 11). We then hiked straight across the flat desert towards the edge of the Willow Creek that flows into the Armagosa River. It ended at a point where either a bridge or the railroad crossed the river where we could go no further (Fig. 12). There was a small waterfall here leading into a small stream of water that continued south toward the Armgosa River. On the way back from here provided a good view of the old ore loading area from below (Fig. 13). Looking west to the top of the ridges I spotted a silhouette in the rock that appeared to me what looked like the head of a dog (Fig. 14). On the way back I took a picture of Ron in one of the old abandon cars alongside the trail (Fig. 15). After retracing our steps back to the gift shop and the bakery we each ate a piping hot loaf of date bread (Fig. 16). (Trip notes con't below)

(Fig. 06)
(Fig. 07)
(Fig. 08)
(Fig. 09) Picture courtesy of Bob Croke

(Fig. 10)
(Fig. 11)
(Fig. 12)
(Fig. 13)
(Fig. 14)

(Fig. 15)
(Fig. 16)

Trip Notes Continued: After a lunch of date bread we decided to drive the Ranch View Trail to the reservoir and a hidden waterfall. Refer to the map in (Fig. 03). We drove the car up the trail past the date groves. We then parked the car and hike up the rest of the road to the reservoir. Looking across the spring fed reservoir there is a small covered seating area and fishing pier (Fig.17). Also, on the far side there were a variety of water fowl and ducks playing in the water along the edges of the reservoir (Fig. 18). At the top of the road, above the reservoir, we turned right and headed west to the area of the waterfall (Fig. 19). This river is fed by the Willow Spring located beyond the reservoir. Though it was only a small stream today, over time during the rainy season, floods have carved a huge, deep slot canyon canyon below the waterfall (Fig. 20). This final picture (Fig. 21) is a picture of a Mesquite Tree found along the edge of the reservoir. To read more about this tree go to ... Mesquite Tree. Today all total we hiked about 3.8 miles. On a future visit I want to hike the Badlands Trail and the Mesa Trail.

(Fig. 17)
(Fig. 18)
(Fig. 19)
(Fig. 20)

(Fig. 21)

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