Trail Information (Trailhead to Rush Creek Spring)
The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail
Image produced by the C5 Landscape Database API 2.0 comparing the Rush Creek Wilderness Trail in red, (produced by the StepwiseArcHiker) to a three degree of freedom least cost path in blue.
The Rush Creek Wilderness Trail is possibly the world's first computationally derived, unofficial public wilderness trail. It traverses the backcountry of far northeastern California, extending to near the border with Nevada. It was first "discovered" by a computer algorithm called a "virtual hiker" that pre-explored the landscape by "hiking" through a virtual landscape consisting of data provided by the U.S. Geological Survey. The virtual hiker found a traversable hiking path between the trailhead and the terminus, both of which were very much arbitrarily chosen by Brett Stalbaum, the author of many virtual hiker algorithms for C5 Corporation. The results of the virtual hiker's exploration produce a tracklog (computer file) which can be uploaded to a GPS device and then followed by a real hiker through the actual landscape. There is no "trail" per se, only a rugged overland backcountry track that can be followed with the assistance of a GPS device. The trail provides beautiful views of the Great Basin desert environment, plentiful wildlife viewing opportunities, and the unique experience of comparing the wayfinding abilities of a virtual hiker to your own wayfinding skills and intuition.
Phase 1 of the trail (From the Rush Creek Wilderness Trailhead to Rush Creek Spring) was opened by Brett Stalbaum December 27th and 28th of 2005. Phase 2 (from Rush Creek Spring to the Terminus), was opened by Stalbaum and Paula Poole June 19th through 21st 2006.
Before you travel to the Rush Creek Area, please read
How to get to the trail head
Hiking the Rush Creek Wilderness Trail
Virtual Hiker Background
Printable Trail Map
Adobe PDF format, 11x17 inches
Map Locations (Phase One)
Trail Head (10 T 740340 4497120, NAD 27), note that waypoints and track files can be downloaded here
1) Arbitrary beginning location for the trail situated on a typical volcanic basalt outcropping.
Falls (10 T 741812 4497588)
2) The falls are an intermittent waterfall where a small tributary enters Stony Creek. Note that the trail does not descend into the creek canyon here; stay above the canyon rim if you are heading toward Stony Creek Mouth.
Stony Creek Mouth (10 T 742008 4497566)
3) The mouth of Stony Creek Canyon is marked by a historic era graffito "Ed Fallon". Note that the trail does not descend into the creek canyon here; stay above the canyon rim if you are heading toward Falls.
Watershed Divide (10 T 744123 4497509)
4) At about 5100 feet elevation in this area the watershed between the Stony Creek and Rush Creek drainages is divided. Along this crest you can see both where you have come from and where you are going.
Virtual Hiker's View (10 T 745527 4497085)
5) The virtual hiker made a seemingly unnecessary hike above 5400 feet here, (it is easier to go around the hill than over it), but the extra effort pays off: revealing a nice view of the unnamed draw on the other side of the hill, draining into Rush Creek. It is also a reasonable camp site if you have plenty of water.
Unnecessary Switchbacks (10 T 746372 4497062)
6) These switchbacks are an artifact of the StepwiseArcHiker algorithm. They are produced when minute advantages are found between steps to the left and right in an oscillating pattern. They are safely cut in mild terrains such as this; so proceeding down to Rush Creek Spring is good idea.
Water Crossing (10 T 746656 4497398)
7) The virtual hiker found this ideal location for a water crossing at the confluence of two small streams, one descending directly from Rush Creek Spring. Rush Creek Spring may be the best source of water along this section of the trail.
Rush Spring Camp (10 T 746628 4497273)
8) The terrain in this area of California is dominated by outcroppings of relatively young, sharp, volcanic basalt that has been baked black by the sun (desert varnish). There are relatively few comfortable (or even possible) places to pitch a tent. There is a relatively safe high bank along the stream which makes a comfortable campsite in most weather, although it is not recommended in severe torrential rainfall.
Go to Phase 2 of the Rush Creek Wilderness Trail
(See Photo Journal for more info)