About Lehman Creek Cascades
The Lehman Creek Cascades are what I’m characterizing as the series of small cascades and rapids running down the eastern slope of Wheeler Peak as it’s sourced by what’s left of the glacier on Wheeler Peak as well as supplemental precipitation.
To be honest, you could argue that these rapids and cascades marginally count as a legitimate waterfall in that each individual section are either too small or too flat.
However, when taken in aggregate, the rare perennial stream of Lehman Creek (though for how much longer due to Global Warming?) primarily sourced by Nevada’s only glacier deserve some mention.
And that’s really the primary motivation behind why I bothered to make this entry in the first place (besides giving me a chance to explore Great Basin National Park).
So far, I’ve only explored the Lehman Creek Trail (which runs alongside the creek itself) between the Upper Lehman Creek Campground and the Lower Lehman Creek Campground.
There’s still more to explore further upstream, which I’d like to get to on a future visit.
Indeed, I suspect that there might be a more legitimate cascade up there justifying the existence of this write-up as far as legitimate waterfalls are concerned.
The Lehman Creek Cascades between Upper Lehman Creek Campground and Lower Lehman Creek Campground
In my mind, this would be by far the most visited stretch of Lehman Creek simply because these are the most accessible campgrounds within the boundaries of Great Basin National Park.
To date, this is the only stretch of Lehman Creek (and its subsequent rapids and cascades) that I’ve had a chance to visit.
In summary, all the candidates for “waterfalls” along this stretch of the watercourse were no more than 3-5ft in height.
However, there were long sections where these cascades seemed to be more significant when they were looked at collectively instead of individually, especially where there were high concentrations of them in one spot.
Throughout this nearly one-mile stretch of the Lehman Creek Trail, I was able to get glimpses of Lehman Creek itself.
But getting close to most of its rapids and cascades involved scrambling, which is typically frowned upon in National Parks.
Overall, I spent less than an hour to do this stretch of trail one-way.
This was made possible because my Mom helped me to drop me off from the Lower Lehman Creek Campground and pick me up at the Upper Lehman Creek Campground Day Use Area (see directions below).
Of course, without the benefit of a shuttle arrangement, then the hiking distance would have to double since it would be an out-and-back hike instead of a one-way shuttle.
Prospects for Exploring the Majority of Lehman Creek
Although we didn’t have the opportunity to explore the entirety of Lehman Creek from Wheeler Peak down to the Upper Lehman Creek Campground, it is something on my to do list given the next opportunity.
Logistically, I would arrange for a willing partner to drop me off at Wheeler Peak so I could hike the remaining 4.1 miles downhill in one-direction.
That would at least take the pain out of the brutal elevation gain combined with the thinner air due to the high elevation of this hike.
According to the contour lines of the topographic maps of Wheeler Peak, I’ve seen better candidates for waterfalls in this steeper upslope section of the mountain.
I also got a visual sense of the steepness of the terrain from looking down into the drainage from the Mather Overlook (a drive-to spot we chose primarily for stargazing).
That said, doing this hike also would require timing to avoid dealing with snow or any overflow of Lehman Creek obscuring the trail itself.
I will update this write-up given that I complete my survey of this section of the Lehman Creek Trail.
The Lehman Creek Cascades reside in the Great Basin National Park near Baker in White Pine County, Nevada. It is administered by the National Park Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting their website.
There are multiple ways to experience the Lehman Creek Cascades, but I’ll only focus on the ways that I’ve done or considered thus far.
All of the access points to the Lehman Creek Trail involve driving the seasonal Wheeler Peak Scenic Road in the Great Basin National Park, where the nearest town is Baker, Nevada.
From Baker, we drove about 4.8 miles up the Carson Street-Lehman Caves Road before turning right onto the Wheeler Peak Scenic Road, which is only open in the Summer due to snow in the off-season.
At about 2 miles up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Road is the Lower Lehman Creek Campground on the left.
Even though there are a few pullout spaces fronting the sign board at the trailhead for the Lehman Creek Trail, it wasn’t clear to us if this was sanctioned parking or not.
In any case, this was where I started my one-way hike up the Lehman Creek Trail towards the Upper Lehman Creek Campground.
Speaking of the Upper Lehman Creek Campground, it was another 1/2-mile or so further up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Road.
At the Upper Lehman Creek Campground, there was plenty of day-use parking both opposite the turnoff for the campground as well as within the campground complex itself where there were spaces next to picnic grounds.
This makes it possible to start on the Lehman Creek Trail in either direction (downstream to the Lower Lehman Creek Campground or upstream to the Wheeler Peak Campground and Trailheads).
Finally, the Wheeler Peak Campground and Trailheads parking lot was at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Road, which was another 9 miles further.
This would be the starting point of a one-way downhill hike to the Upper Lehman Creek Campground along the Lehman Creek Trail.
Overall, the drive up to Wheeler Peak took us around 30-45 minutes though we had to circle around a few times to find parking at the end of the road.
Reaching the Upper Lehman Creek and Lower Lehman Creek Campgrounds from Baker was probably more on the order of 20 minutes drive.
To give you some context, Baker was about 62 miles (about 1 hour drive) east of Ely, 189 miles (over 3 hours drive) north of St George, Utah, 229 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) west of Salt Lake City, 291 miles (4.5 hours drive) north of Las Vegas, Utah, 312 miles (about 5 hours drive) south of Twin Falls, Idaho, and 382 miles (6 hours drive) east of Reno.
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