“This section encompasses large lakes, a fault-block mountain, and perennial streams.”
— Renee Patrick
Birding · Fall Colors · Hot Spring · Spring · Views · Wildlife
Backpackers/hikers are required to obtain a self-issued permit before camping in the backcountry (0.5 miles from any open road). From Aug. 1-Dec. 1 when all seasonal roads are open, camping along the ODT within the refuge boundary is limited to sections WB 191-193, WB 203-207, WB 215-218. Check for current regulations when filling out your permit. Permits can be obtained at the Hart Mountain NAR Headquarters (HQ) (available 24/7) or by requesting one via mail.
This is an ecologically diverse section, plentiful with wildlife and water sources. Mostly on two-track roads here, the ODT climbs from the lake floor to the east side of Hart Mountain, but there is nothing that is too strenuous. Spring and fall are great times to explore this section. Summer can be quite hot, and the mosquitoes can be ferocious in June and July. Hot Springs Campground is a highlight of this area. Permits are required for backcountry camping on the Refuge (see Access Issues), and bikes and other vehicles are allowed only on roads marked as open routes. Check refuge information for seasonal road closures.
Need to Know
For more info and to download ALL of the waypoints for the ODT, visit onda.org
Starting at the Plush Turnoff Road (WB171) about one mile north of the town of Plush, the ODT follows the paved road to the northeast corner of Hart Lake, where the ODT turns south on a two-track road (WB174). The two-track road crosses a culvert carrying spring water (WB175), and another spring can be found at an old homestead’s grove of cottonwoods (WB176), just up the hill from the trees.
South of the old homestead site, the two-track road climbs slightly and passes by Alkali Flat (WB177) then returns to the lake edge and continues southeast (WB178). Note that this section of the trail passes by privately owned lands that allows for public access.
At the next two-track junction overlooking the marshy meadow below (WB179), the ODT takes the left fork and heads east along the base of Hart Mountain; avoid the right fork that veers southeast toward Crump Lake. The two-track road, increasingly grown over with tall grass, leads to a barbed wire fence-enclosed homestead with a spring just off the road to the south, hidden in a trough in the reeds (WB180). After passing two cattle guards, the route is closed to vehicles and continues south to another collection of homestead buildings and a cottonwood grove (WB181). The spring water here is harder to access through the tall reeds.
South of this homestead the two-track road becomes rougher and makes a short cross country jog at WB181a to connect to another primitive road at WB181b. Continue along the base of Hart Mountain to a fork (WB182). The ODT takes the left hand two-track road heading up Fisher Canyon. The ODT stays on this road until a fork just northeast of Robinson Lake (a reservoir, usually dry; WB184), takes the left-hand fork and climbs shortly to another fork (WB185), takes another left and continues climbing northwest up toward a ridgeline.
The ODT stays on the two-track road heading northwest along the ridge west of usually dry Wool Lake, and crosses a barbed wire fence (WB187) into the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. From this point, the road is closed to all vehicles (including bikes) until the two-track crosses Warner Creek 5.7 miles ahead (WB187 to WB191). After another short climb up and over a ridge on the increasingly degraded, heavily overgrown two-track, the trail arrives at the top of Riffle Canyon. At a faint fork (WB188), the ODT stays left, approaches the eastern base of Hart Mountain, and climbs up and over another ridge to the western edge of the expansive Big Flat, where there is a spring water hole among reeds near WB189. The road continues northeast to an old homestead (WB190). The ODT continues northeast on the two-track road and crosses Warner Creek (WB191), which may have water in it. The road eventually leads to reliable water at Guano Creek (WB192). This portion of the ODT (from WB191 to WB193) is closed to all vehicles from December 1-June 15.
From Guano Creek, the ODT continues along a two-track road that heads east at first and then turns sharply north. Follow this two-track road to WB193, where the ODT hits another two-track and turns left to travel north. Then the ODT comes to a two-track road junction (WB194). Turn left onto the dirt road heading west and then north, crossing Guano Creek (WB195) and then continuing east to a junction with a two-track road (WB196). From here, continue north on the well-traveled dirt road. This road continues up the Guano Creek drainage and soon enters the Guano Creek camping area (WB197). The ODT stays on this road, climbing to a ridgeline where the ODT stays on the two-track road heading north, dropping into the Barnhardy Basin.
The ODT stays on the two-track road as it climbs out of the basin west of Rock Creek. After the short climb the two-track road curves and drops down to Rock Creek and the Hot Springs Campground (WB201). Follow the well-traveled gravel road to the northeast. At WB204 stay to the left, continuing on the main gravel road traveling north to end at the headquarters.