Volunteers Clear Trail to Massacre Site
This spring is a great time to make the trek from Dug Bar to Chinese Massacre Cove along the Snake River in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.
In 1887, more than 30 Chinese miners were murdered for their gold—sparking national outrage, fueling the debate about the rights of Asians in the United States, and creating an international incident between China and the US. Nobody was ever held responsible for the crime. In 2009, R. Gregory Nokes published Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hells Canyon, renewing interest in the heinous deaths of over 30 men. This renewed interest culminated with the installation and dedication of an interpretive monument at the site in 2012.
Unfortunately, the bramble-choked trail to the massacre site from Dug Bar made access by foot or with stock treacherous and slow. The 3.25 miles of trail was significantly blocked by Himalayan Blackberry and other brush, it was also heavily infested with Poison Ivy. Most people were able to access the site only via jet boat.
Thanks to a joint project between the Forest Service and volunteers with the Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association, however, The Snake River Trail (#1726) has been cleared along Dug Creek, making the roughly 6-mile trip to the Massacre Site possible without getting mired in blackberry brambles. Nine volunteers and two Forest Service employees spent two full days, March 10th and 11th, clearing brush along a 1-mile stretch of the trail choked with an impenetrable wall of thorny vines that was 8 feet tall in some places. The crew cleared a roughly 8-foot wide path through five 100-foot long blackberry thickets to open the trail. The 3 miles of trail from the mouth of Dug Creek to the Chinese Massacre monument at Deep Creek were not completed. The Dug Creek trail will need regular maintenance to keep the blackberries from taking over again.
The drive from Joseph, Oregon to the trailhead at Dug Bar is about 60 miles and takes approximately 3 hours. High clearance vehicles are strongly recommended. If you would like additional information, please contact the Wallowa Whitman National Forest, Joseph Oregon Office at 541-426-5546.
The Wallowa Mountains Hells Canyon Trails Association (WMHCTA) is a dedicated group of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who monitor and help maintain trails in Hells Canyon and the Wallowa Mountains. WMHCTA coordinates with the US Forest Service and organizes volunteer work parties to clear downed trees, cut back brush, and do whatever else is necessary to keep trails open and accessible.
You can help by joining WMHCTA on a trail maintenance day trip, coming to one of the meetings, or donating to support the effort. Contact WMHCTA at email@example.com.
All photos in gallery © David Jensen.