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Dry Gulch Preserve

 Editor's note:  This information was originally posted 12/5/08.

It’s been called many things over the years: the Cannon Gold Mine, the Asamera Mine, the holdings of Conoco Phillips, the property purchased by the Appleatche Riders. Now the land that borders Saddle Rock to the south and that was part of a mining operation until 1994 is known as the Dry Gulch Preserve. The property, which was once part of the second largest gold operation in the United States, was purchased from Conoco Phillips in 2007 with the provision that the Land Trust would hold a conservation easement to it. This provision prevents this 700-acre parcel from ever being developed and will keep the heavy-metal, hazardous-waste nasties leftover from the mining days permanently buried. Click here to read a very thorough history of the Cannon Gold Mine (owned by Asamera Minerals and Breakwater Resources) that operated here from 1985-1994.

The Appleatche Riders wanted this property adjacent to their riding club for obvious reasons: It gives their 650 members immediate access to a tremendous amount of terrain for riding horses. After acquiring the property, the riding club quickly created a limited partnership, called the Dry Gulch Preserve LLC, which holds and manages the property.

Attractions. Despite the jokes about the toxic residues that are capped off and buried here, having so much open space that is so easily accessible is a tremendous asset to Wenatchee residents. About 8 miles of dirt roads and trails on the property provide places where you can walk, jog, run the dog, and horseback ride (no motorized vehicles or mountain bikes allowed). The area still shows the scars from its mining past, but there are surprisingly pretty places on the property. Some of the high ridges and slopes are thick with blooming flowers in spring. And many overlooks provide solid-gold views of the Columbia River Valley.

Difficulty. The hiking and running opportunities accommodate beginners and experienced users. Likewise, whether your fitness level is excellent or poor, you’ll find suitable routes here.

Elevation Gain. Up to 1,300 feet.

Access. Use the Circle Street approach. This same trailhead provides access to Saddle Rock from the south. Drive south on Miller Street until it makes a sharp bend to the right and becomes Circle Street. Drive 0.25 miles up Circle Street and park in the gravel area at pavement’s end. As of May 2012, additional parking for about 20 vehicles was added at the end of Circle Street by the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust on property the school district provided. This has greatly helped the parking problems here. There are no facilities – take care of your bathroom needs before arrival and carry away all your trash.

Map: Print our topo map on 8.5” x 11” paper. Use your ‘Print Preview’ first to properly scale the map for your printer. The map is color-coded: green routes are the easiest, blue-dashed trails are of intermediate difficulty, and black routes are the hardest (either steepest or roughest surface). Yellow trails on this map are closed (stay off).

Activities allowed. Horseback riding, hiking, walking dogs, running, snowshoeing, wildflower and native plant observing. Look for these native plants along the Foothills. Some winters Nordic skiing is also possible for a few weeks on the main gravel road (A Trail) leading up to the dry reservoir at the top of the earth dam.

Not allowed. No motorized vehicles. No mountain bikes.

Best Seasons. Spring, fall, and winter.

Trip Instructions.

  • A Trail (one-way distance up to 2.5 miles). This is the main gravel road leaving from the parking area and heading up Dry Gulch. Follow it in a southwesterly direction and, after a mile, it switchbacks up the earth dam holding back a dry reservoir. In another half mile (1.5 miles from the start), you reach an intersection. The left fork of the road follows a mile-long contouring road bordering the northern edge of the dry reservoir but remaining a few hundred feet higher. You’ll pass through one gate, which needs to remain closed, and eventually the road peters out when it contours into the gut of Dry Gulch (turn around here). The right fork of the road climbs more steeply, switchbacks a few times and, after 0.3 miles, hits a fence you are not to cross. About 60 yards before the fence, a faint spur road splits off to the right: This can be followed for a few hundred yards before it peters out and you need to turn around (no cross-country travel allowed).
  • B Trail (1.2 mile, one-way). This trail leaves the main gravel road (A Trail) about 1 mile from the parking lot. At the end of an area with disturbed slopes to your left, look for a cairn marking the junction. The trail climbs fairly steeply and initially slants left. As you follow this switchbacking trail, a few spurs split off and eventually reconnect to form a small network of figure-eighting trails. After 1.2 miles, you’ll reach the ridge looking down on Pitcher Canyon and a T-intersection with C Trail.
  • C Trail (1.5 miles). Turn right at the T-intersection just described and you can walk a very scenic half mile to a highpoint with great views. Turn left and you can walk another scenic 0.9 miles along this ridge above Pitcher Canyon and Squilchuck Creek before hitting no-trespassing signs. Don’t go through the signs—the landowner is serious about keeping people out. Either route chosen is an out-and-back and you’ll need to descend via B Trail.
  • D Trail. (1 mile one-way) This out-and-back route connects to the old road that was once used to bring winter wheat down to the valley. Get on it by crossing the gate at the parking lot and walking 100 feet along the main gravel road to the first telephone pole on the right side of the road. The trail splits off on the right and initially aims toward the green maintenance shed a half-mile away. Follow the trail for 0.6 miles as it initially wanders flat terrain before starting to climb quite steeply. Eventually the trail merges with the old road and makes a climbing traverse heading west. In another 0.4 miles, the road reaches a barbed-wire gate that is not to be crossed unless you have permission from the landowner (a few people do). This landowner is also serious about keeping uninvited guests out.  
  • E Trail (one-way of 1.25 miles or 2.7-mile loop). To access this route, follow the main gravel road (A Trail) a few hundred yards and turn left on a smaller road which has an old gate you’ll walk around. Walk east 0.25 miles on flat terrain then, at a junction, turn right and head uphill on an old jeep road. Keep following this jeep road for 0.9 miles as it switchbacks uphill. Eventually the road hits private property and a no-trespassing sign. Heed the signage. Shortly before the no-trespassing sign, a foot trail splits off on the left (as you’re climbing).This trail (purple on our map) is on private property but, as of December 2008, could still be used (this status could change) and lets you complete a nice loop. The purple trail contours and drops until it intersects a dirt service road under some power lines. Turn left and follow the service road to a little saddle. Now, veer left and drop steeply down a trail leading back to the start of E Trail.      

Rules and Issues. There are a number of rules to heed, but we who are not members of the Appleatchee Riders should not look a gift horse in the mouth. This is private property purchased for the benefit of the horseback riders and we are lucky to have public access. Following these rules will help us maintain our privileges.

  • Take care of your bathroom needs before arriving. There are no public facilities.
  • Pets must be leashed. If pet-horse conflicts become commonplace, pet owners will see more restrictions.
  • Carry away all your trash Pick up litter found along your route. Dog poop is becoming a larger issue here and scooping the poop (especially if you're within a mile of the parking area) is recommended. 
  • No motorized vehicles or mountain bikes allowed.
  • Use only the trails we’ve mapped and described. All other trails are closed. No cross-country travel allowed.
  • Stay off trails when they are muddy and your passage leaves prints in the surface.
  • Obey ‘No trespassing’ signs. Where signs are posted, the adjacent landowners are serious. Violators jeopardize relationships…they could also be prosecuted.
  • The trails are open during daylight hours only.

Land Ownership. Dry Gulch Preserve LLC. The Chelan-Douglas Land Trust holds a conservation easement to the preserve. Appleatchee Riders can direct you to property’s manager.

Fees/Permits. None required.

Reporter. Andy Dappen, December 2008.

Don't Use Soft /Wet Trails.  Please stay off any trail that's soft enough that you that you’re leaving obvious foot prints Foot prints hold and funnel water, and greatly accelerate erosion. When the trails are soft, ask whether a 100 people could use the trail in the same way you’re using it without messing up the surface? If the answer is 'no,' find a firmer trail or road.

Be More Than a User. These trails need frequent maintenance and most of the work is done by volunteers. If you use these trails, help maintain them. Contact the Dry Gulch Preserve or the Appleatchee Riders to ask about upcoming trail-maintenance parties.

Historical Info.  This subsite of Gene's BMX has a very thorough accounting of the Cannon Gold Mine's history as well as an extensive listing of news stories written about the mine. Visitors of the property will find this very interesting.

Leave It Better Than You Found It: This should be every outdoor user’s goal. Pick up trash left by others, pull  some noxious weeds along your route, throw branches over spur trails that are not part of the formalized trail system (make it harder to do the wrong thing than the right thing).

Disclaimer: Treat this information as recommendations, not gospel. Conditions change, and those contributing these reports are volunteers--they may make mistakes or may not know all the issues affecting a route.You are still completely responsible for your decisions, your actions, and your safety. If you can’t live with that, you are prohibited from using our information.