As the China Ranch Date Farm has grown over the last three decades and the public has become aware of the existence of this northernmost date farm in North America, visitation has increased and the desire of visitors to explore the area has increased commensurately. Unfortunately, there haven’t been very many trail options and few facilities. That is about to change. The Amargosa Conservancy and China Ranch, working together, applied for and received a River Parkways Grant to address the lack of established trails.
The River Parkways Trail Grant Fund was created by the State of California to support the construction of trails and adjunct facilities along waterways in California so that citizens can have access to the unique and beautiful riparian areas in the state. A hike along Willow Creek from China Ranch to where it merges with the Amargosa River provides an opportunity for folks to see not only the riparian habitat associated with a desert water source, but also the diverse geology and scenic beauty of the Amargosa Canyon area.The Amargosa Canyon, formed when ancient Lake Tecopa breached its natural dam and drained out, is both a natural wonder and very important historically. It formed part of the original Old Spanish Trail, a trade route and mule trail from Sante Fe, New Mexico to the Los Angeles Basin of Southern California. The route later became part of the Mormon Road, a wagon road from the Mormon settlements of Southern Utah to San Bernardino, California. In the first decade of 20th century the Tidewater and Tonopah Railroad (known as the T&T) which ran from Ludlow California on the San Pedro, Los Angeles and Salt Lake Railroad (later the Union Pacific RR) to Tonopah, Nevada was built through the Canyon. The trail network includes a picnic area with facilities at the trailhead and almost immediate access to Willow Creek. Trails continue downstream to the confluence of Willow Creek and the Amargosa River, giving hikers the ability to explore not only the natural beauty of the land, but also see evidence of the prehistoric and historic uses of the area. The trailhead and first segment of trail that parallels Willow Creek is all ADA accessible, making sure all visitors can bask in the shade of the mesquite bosque and feel the wind through the willows while watch the water trickle by.
Project completion is estimated by the end of 2016.