Friday, December 21, 2012

Trail of the Week: China Wall

I do not recommend running with guys this fast... ouch!
This week's post is likely to make some people a bit angry, and that's fine, because the trail I'm posting is somewhat of a hidden gem in the Owyhees that quite a few people know about but seem to have a difficult time finding or figuring out a way to enjoy it.  The route I'm posting up is a very mellow (as much as possible in the Owyhees) 7.4 mile round trip loop to the amazing "China Wall" trail.  Some would prefer it be kept a secret, but I think spreading the word to get more trails and interest in the area would be beneficial and so here we are... To the Canyon and Back.

Go to the left of the pointy rock feature from the parking lot.
Getting the the China Wall is a bit tricky because there is no one trail that takes you right there from the main trail head at the Wilson Creek parking area.  There is quite a few trails that take you in that general direction, and it is easy to get off course and turned around if you are out there for the first time by yourself.  I recommend trying to find a buddy that can show you around if you can.  From Nampa, go south on HW 45 and turn west on HW 78.  Take a left on Wilson Creek Road and proceed south until you are about ready to enter the feedlot.  Just before the feedlot, veer right onto gravel and travel about 1 more mile to the main trail head parking lot where a couple of restrooms are available and a signboard has a map posted.  Upon my last check, there were many free copies of the are map available, but they are not of great detail so use caution to not get lost.

From the parking lot, head east toward the large rock formation.  I recommend that you stay just north of the  feature and follow trail W300.  This is a nice piece of trail with some undulations but is generally flatter than many of the other trails around the area.  W300 will dump you off onto Pigeon Road and you will drop down a small hill and follow the sandy road north.
The view from W300 to the north.

After gaining the small 4WD road you will notice a steep little run-up off to the right that becomes trail W310.  This is a common way to get over to the Reynolds Creek canyon where the China Wall is but I also liked staying on the road and running up and over the small but steep hills on the way there.  You can't really miss the entry into Reynolds Creek canyon and the trail (W600) is really the only way through the steep walled Reynolds area.  Once dropping into the canyon keep a watch out for wildlife high up in the rugged surroundings.  I've seen multiple bighorn sheep down in there and it is truly a sight to see.

From a run in March, looking up the canyon.
Running or biking along the trail at this point is technical and there is some minor exposure as you traverse the canyon on the built up trail surface (hence, the China Wall name).  You will be jumping over rocks and pushing through some minor brush, but all-in-all, it is a truly awesome trail.  At the end of the canyon you'll see a trail leading up to the right and over the rocky, rough, and steep canyon wall.  This exit is a tough little grunt and can be a bit of a hands on the knees pushing endeavor to get up unless you're like the two guys I was running with; in which case, you just slightly slow down and glide right up.

The "China Wall"

This picture is also from the run in March, but this is the way out of the canyon.
After getting up the canyon wall, you'll soon be on the same road you took around to get into the canyon, but you will be at the base of the main Wilson Peak land feature.  You'll take the road back down to the north and follow it until you reach the camp/parking/whatever little area where W400 goes off to the west.  Follow this uphill trail for about 2 miles and you'll soon be back at the trail head and you're car.  I've mapped this route out on Garmin Connect and you can easily combine this with the Wilson Creek and Bingo! loop I mapped two weeks ago.  Click on the links and plan your adventure.  Show me the Trails!

As always, if you take a trip on one of my suggested loops, please post comments and provide any feedback you may have about the usefulness of these trail of the week features.

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