A Day on Ditch Mountain

September 13, 2003

Saturday September, 13, was the first day of cool,clear and sunny fall weather (for you folks who live in a temperate climate, that means it was less than 95 degrees for the first time since, like, April).

Our tour began with a drive up Gardner Canyon and a quick visit to Kentucky Camp, which served as offices and residences for employees of he Santa Rita Water and Mining Company from 1902 to 1906. One of the former mine buildings is now available as a rustic rental cabin ("bed and no breakfast").

There were two of those really cool (and very life-like) plaster geckos about 18" long on the cabin walls. But when I tried to take a picture, THEY SCURRIED AWAY!!!

Up Gardner Canyon from the mine is a series of tunnels and aquaducts constructed in 1904 and designed to draw water from the upper ranges of the Santa Ritas for water-intensive placer mining. You can hike three miles along the "the ditch" from Tunnel Springs to Bear Springs, just below the summit of Mount Wrightson.

The trail has sweeping views of nearby summits and of the Huachuca Mountains to the east. It's also a geologist's paradise, with piles of copper tailings and outcroppings of colorful breccia. Look at this lovely rocky promontory -- what a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view.

The trail climbs gently over a ridge and then stays high on the right side of the canyon until "the ditch" eventually meets up with Casa Blanca Creek. From here you can return the way you came, or bushwhack two miles over the summit of Ditch Mountain.