Bear Wallow Trail is a 14.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Clifton, AZ that offers the chance to see wildlife and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, and backpacking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
Directions from Tucson: Take I-10 east 81 miles to State Route 186. Turn south and continue for 23 miles to State Route 181. Turn east towards Chiricahua National Monument and drive 4 miles to Forest Road #42. Continue up Pinery Canyon 12 miles to FR 42D. Drive about 2.5 miles to the Rustler Park Campground. Access this trail via the Crest Trail about 2.5 miles from the campground.
The flowing creek here gave Fossil Creek a run for its money. However, the trail itself is mostly gone/destroyed since the 2011 fire.
I do not recommend doing this trail unless you are experienced at terrain navigation or have a GPS (e.g. on your phone or something--make sure it's CHARGED!).
I actually got completely lost on the way back. The part where it forks back east up towards FS25 is basically loosely stomped-down grass patches. I ended up missing it completely and had to climb over a mountaintop from the south to get back to it.
Overall it was a ~20 mile mountain excursion through basically-raw wilderness.
Again, you should not brave this trail unless you're experienced. It has not been maintained at all. Fallen trees are on the trail in a few dozen locations. You can follow the creek for the most part but--this is important--the "trail" portion is mostly gone. You're traversing re-vegetated wilderness.
I love this place. Fairly strenuous in place due to down trees and elevation change but the serenity and beauty is amazing. Plenty of water for backpacking too. (note) Fire has altered this place and I have not been back to how it has changed. I understand there are places quite destroyed, while others are still pristine but all is showing recover.
What a great place for backpacking in Summer. My wife and I packed in on July 3rd and stayed 2 days. The environment is spectacular and rugged. The Bear Wallow Trail #63 is usually easy to follow but you will have to deal with many downed trees and cross the stream up to 17 times. It is high in elevation & pretty steep in places, especially the first couple of miles or so and towards the end so know your limits.
What You'll see - Lots of virgin forest and riparian scenery. I saw some of the largest Ponderosa Pines I have ever seen and some really nice Spruce to boot. The clear stream is a great water source and fun for splashing in and great meadows for camping that get you away from the water for safety but close enough you can still hear the flow as you sleep.
Temperatures, plan for them: Even in Summer, nights are chilly and days pleasantly warm. It got down around 40 both nights and around 78 during the day.
People: Saw two people from Saturday-Monday.
Animals: Only saw Trout, Turkey and other birds, many butterflies and a dead elk but it is bear, Mexican wolf and mountain lion country. Keep food/toiletries and other smelly things stored and hung properly away from tents.
Kid Friendly: Not for young children.