Ditch Mountain Trail #137

Chinaman Trail 137 map

This trail is sometimes referred to as "Chinaman Trail" due to a popular myth that it was constructed by Chinese laborers. However, there has been no evidence to support the notion that Chinese or other ethnic Asian groups constructed the trail. The name Ditch Mountain Trail has been regaining popular usage, both due to cultural sensitivities and to reference the area's history of placer/hydraulic mining.

For the most part, this trail follows the course of an old ditch used to bring water from Bear Spring to mining operations farther east in the historic Kentucky Camp (area is unavailable) area. The old trailway (and some of the waterworks as well) remain in surprisingly good condition in spite of the fact that they are no longer maintained and, in the case of the trail, have sustained nearly a century of use. This easy trail wanders along a circuitous route as it follows the level course marked out for the waterway across the canyon-cut landscape. To get started, you’ll have to make a short scramble over a low hill where you’ll see the remains of an old tunnel that was cut to allow water to flow from Casa Blanca Canyon into Gardner Canyon. Once on the other side, the trail is easy to follow to Bear Spring in broad Casa Blanca Canyon. At this point, if you’re interested in a loop route, proceed up Big Casa Blanca Canyon about a mile to a stream junction. Take the left fork here and continue upstream to the Walker Basin Trail #136 which at this point also follows an old ditch route. Turn right here and follow Walker Basin Trail to Gardner Trail #143 to Gardner Canyon Road and back to the trailhead. Since this requires leaving the trail, you shouldn’t attempt it without taking along a topographic map. Actually, you should always have a topographic map and a compass with you whenever and wherever you travel in the backcountry.

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Motorized and mechanized vehicles and equipment, including mountain bikes, are not permitted in Wilderness.
Operated By: Nogales Ranger District

General Information

Directions: Drive north out of Sonoita 4 miles to the Gardner Canyon Road, FR 92. Turn left (west) 6.3 miles on FR 92 to FR 785. Follow FR 785 (Gardner Canyon Road) about 3 miles to Tunnel Spring. (There is a small, round watering trough next to a barbed wire fence here.) Scramble up and over the hill to the other side and hit the trail.


Day Hiking

Historic mining district, easy jaunt into canyon country, backcountry solitude. 1.6 miles of this trail are within the Mt. Wrightson Wilderness. USGS Map(s): Mt. Wrightson
Elevation desc 5,600 - 5,780 feet
Difficulty Level: Easy


Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities


  Area/Length : 
2.6 miles

  Elevation : 
5,600 feetq - 5,780 feet