Explore the most popular birding trails in Gila National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Great trail, the first 1/2 mile on the Catwalks is neat, then definitely go down the stairs at the end of the Catwalks and find your way upstream to a couple little waterfalls and swimming holes. You can walk upstream or find the trails on either side of the creek. It’s cool to see the effects of the flood and the burnt trees that it carried downstream. We hiked 2 1/2ish miles upstream to where the whitewater trail intersects. There was some climbing, but pretty easy-moderate over all. Not too crowded and there was minimal litter, which we picked up of course. We picked up only 3 pieces of trash the whole hike.

We came in from deep upriver on another trail. On day 3 we slept where Little bear and West fork meet. The site was perfect, zero other humans for us at least. On last day we picked up and went in to little bear creek to head back to the parked car. One guy I was with said it was like some Jurassic Park shtuff... it was beautiful in there. I would totally do this again. So glad we didn’t stay on the river, the creek was so darned worth it. We did see our first people the morning out though. After 3 days of nobody but bears and Tarantula Hawks, we saw 8 people on this shirt section alone. So we must have gotten lucky having nobody at the springs or any other part of the adventure. Definitely worth it. Would not rate this any higher than moderate.

no swimming in the lake, what kind of a joke is that??? also never found the trail to get around the dam. I wanted a 5 mile run anyway!

This is one of my favorite trails in the gila, box canyon and absolutely beautiful when you hit the forks. My favorite place on earth!

We took our 10, 7 & 4 yo... the paved area was not really a hike... more like a steep walk. When we got to the end we decided to climb down to the river. For our return we went bouldering, along and through the river to find our way back to the crossover bridge. What was a boring walk turned into a fun hike.

note:
we went Mem wkd... there were A LOT of people by hiking std and most were hanging out for the day in the river w/ their kids & dogs. If you enjoy a min. peeps kind of trek... it was fairly busy.

Very nice hike, however a lot of the trail is washed away.

5/21/2018..took our teenage boys here to experience a short walk in the forest....the trail beyond the fiberglass bridge has been damaged due to some previous flood, Yet the water level in creek was so low that we found a way to walk in creek for 3 miles. There was a pleasant breeze in canyon and plenty of shade. very enjoyable day for the teens. Carry your water/snax.

hiking
1 month ago

Easy to find. A sign off Hwy 180 directs you to Arenas Valley Road. This road is paved for mile or so. When the pavement ends, you can see the parking lot for the trailhead. A generous lot for hikers/bikers & a separate lot for horses. Loved this trail! Scenic with mountains & desert. Easy trail until you start following the creek, then a little rocky. The petroglyphs were cool. Climb the trail into the rocks to see the dragonfly.

Excellent trail but thank the gods for AllTrails for showing me which fork to take! As others have said, the first part is poorly marked. Interesting to see the cactus and pine together.

backpacking
1 month ago

Trail is washed out at several points, the detour around the worst of which is pictured here. Vistas are excellent on the descent to Whitewater.

backpacking
1 month ago

Beautiful hike on the southern part of the Gila wilderness. Very few visitors. We went in late April and the log book at the trailhead only had 7 visitors for the year.
The first bit of the hike doesn't have many highlights and can be very hot. Bring lots of water as there is none until you hit Mogollon creek about 7 miles in. If you are hiking in spring, start early! - It gets hot!
The second half of the trail has some amazing views, showing the expansive Gila wilderness, including Shelley Peak and Mogollon Baldy. At 5.4 miles in, you have the choice to continue to the Mogollon creek upstream of the canyons or head to Bud's Hole. We went to Mogollon creek as that has fishing access and a wild population of the rare Gila trout. Truly one of the clearest, pristine streams I've seen - gorgeous! Definitely worth a visit. One note: I started the recording a little late (0.4 miles to be exact).

hiking
2 months ago

This trail was severely burned in 93 which actually means that it receives almost no traffic and has incomprable views for quite a lot of it because the panoramic vista is unobscured. The trail was a little tough to follow at times but not too bad and I didn’t see another soul while I was on it, which was quite a treat considering how trafficked a lot of that area is.

hiking
2 months ago

I have hiked this trail multiple times and while the 1-mile catwalk portion is an easy hike, the rest of the trail is definitely not easy. After the fire in 2012 the trail is gone in most places and hiking is quite difficult because you just have to hike up the creek where there is no trail. There are numerous creek crossings and you have to climb up, around, and on top of gigantic boulders, through small waterfalls, and climb over a lot of down trees. It is a very beautiful canyon and it is unlikely you will see many people, if anyone in this canyon.

3 months ago

Awesome

hiking
3 months ago

The lake is beautiful and there were a number of different ducks on the lake. The side of the lake near the boat launch (where I started) is easy to hike. Once you get to the dam it’s difficult to see the trail and how to get around the dam. I went up to the parking area and saw a trail on the far side and assumed that was the one. It takes you down a very steep hill with loose rocks and overgrown grass. Unfortunately the trail disappeared about half way down the hill. Very tricky footing, take it slow. Then you have to cross a creek a couple of times to finally find the trail again. There was some barbed wire mixed in with the grass. The side opposite the boat launch is stunningly beautiful with small hidden grottoes. Be careful in the areas where you follow the trail along the cliff face at the water’s edge, there’s a spot where there’s a steep drop that you have to figure out how to get down without breaking a leg. That side had sections with slippery claylike mud too. I saw no evidence of a trail that you could take instead of the road back to the boat launch. This trail was a little more challenging than I thought it would be, but well worth the effort.

All of the different trails in this area make it hard to decide which way to go. I had fun doubling back and doing loops. The area is ripe with ecology and geology. I could hit these trails 1000 times and still come away feeling enlightened.

The trail is great up to where it’s washed out. The road to the trail was also flooded with about a foot of water in two locations. We drove about 4 hours out of the way to do this hike so slightly disappointed that only half of it was possible to see. It is incredibly scenic. The government needs to upgrade the road to the trail and the portions of the trail that wash out.

This is a beautiful loop through many ecosystems. But towards the river it’s impossible to stay on / find the trail. Some ranger yelled at us for “trespassing” on the monument, as if we wanted to be bushwhacking!

birding
4 months ago

Very good trail for a beginner, well marked and well maintained.

I took my 4 children ages 5-13 to the springs last week (Jan 13, 2018). The trail was easy enough and the trailhead was super easy to find. When you get to the bottom of the trail to the river, cross and then turn left. The springs will be on the river bank. There are about 4-5 pools. It was a bit crowded but we went on a long weekend. The towns people are super friendly and you should stop off and eat in their cafes. Patronize their businesses.

Trail can be difficult close to the river. The canyon is beautiful and hot springs are small but relaxing. Primitive camping at trail head.

fantastic little hike especially if you don't mind getting a little wet. I'll definitely be back!

Very fun Trail. The canyons are beautiful. The hot springs felt very nice!

This is a beautiful pocket of nature that you should take the time to check out, definitely worth the drive I made from El Paso.

Gorgeous hiking but terrible markers! Come on, put up a couple trail signs or at least arrows indicating which trail is which.

We hiked from Emory Pass to Sawyers Peak with no problems. There are a few dead falls over the trail, but nothing to stop us. Only one we had to go under, the rest we stepped over. The trail is still very usable and is marked with blazes and white diamond reflectors on the switchbacks. The grass and thorny brush have grown up and one must pay attention to follow the trail, but I have been on far worse and harder to follow.
Sad about the fire and blackened trees. However, as with most things in life there are upsides. The views are spectacular. The view from Sawyers Peak is 270 degrees of panorama. Only the western view is somewhat blocked by trees. I was last up there in 2012 before the fire and it has changed, but the views are to die for.

Definitely one of the best hikes! Amazing scenery and pretty easy trails. The water has all temperatures and is perfect. We are definitely going back!

We went during the fall and the leaves on the trees near the stream were breath taking. It takes a little while to get out to that area but its peaceful and we didn’t run in to any other hikers even though there were around five other vehicles parked at the trail head when we arrived. I think if the sun had been out partially the hike would have been more vibrant and interesting. We hiked on a cloudy overcast day in the morning. We did see some deer. I might go hike it again in the summer so maybe we can see some dragon flies.

A wonderful long day hike with at least three different feels. The first three miles feel like desert hiking in Texas (and represent almost all the climbing of the entire hike), the next section down the slot canyon has its own feel and the final six miles involves wet traversing of the Gila River. We wore our hiking boots straight through the river section. The water was chilly but not unpleasant. Hiking poles were a huge plus for the crossings. Picking up the river crossings and identifying the trail is difficult at times. A good rule of thumb when crossing: once across the river go to the far canyon wall to pick up the trail. The road section at the end of the hike felt longer than a mile on weary legs. A fun and interesting hike.

I hiked this trail several times before the floods destroyed it. I haven’t been back since they rebuilt it but it is my understanding that it has been completed. The canyon and views were beautiful. Well worth the time.

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