Explore the most popular dog friendly 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.

Neat hike and destination! Be aware that there are rattlesnakes in the tall grass along the river. I almost stepped directly on one while wearing sandals, which were preferred over boots due to the numerous river fords. There is no cell service and it's a long hike back to the car and then to civilization, so it would be a bad place to get bit.

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!

We went the opposite way, over the cliffs and after 2 days ended up here. Feet and ankles were hamburger. This was so welcomed! We had the place to ourselves and it was so badly needed. Pristine, clear and gorgeous. We soaked and healed and it was amazing. The thing nobody really mentions are the immense amount of bear tracks in the area. We came across 2 black bears about 3 miles deeper into the canyon on our way to the springs. Just be aware, but totally enjoyed this part of our through hike.

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.

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.

Gorgeous hike! Beautiful bluffs after you drop into little bear, and get on the river. Definitely a scenic and worth while hike! The pool is big enough to stretch out and enjoy, was tucked perfectly into the hill across the river when you get to a little camp site (look north/NE, on river bed for small trail leading up - the pool is not on the main river!).

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

Hiked this route to Black Peak with my husband and dog on Saturday 3/31. From NM 15, turn at the sign for the Arrastra Site. Up the narrow, rocky road, there is space for a few vehicles to park. You can catch the CDT right from that parking area. There are a few ups and downs. It is not technical at all; most of the challenge comes from the length. The trail is easy to follow overall. The only confusing spot was at the turnoff from the access road at about 2.5 miles. It was not marked, but we used the Alltrails app to check. We clocked the mileage at 7.6 to the peak, for a total of 15.2. This trail recording ends short of the peak. Follow the sign for Signal Peak and turn left at a rock cairn for an easy trail to the summit. It took us 3:30 to go up and 2:40 to come back down. There weren't really views most of the way or at the top, except where you can see through areas of the forest that have been burned. We only saw one trail runner and one mountain biker the entire hike.

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.

2 months ago

Awesome

hiking
2 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.

Beautiful trail, and totally worth it. The last 2 miles you cross a fork of the Gila River 15 times one way, and the water was only up to about my knees at the deepest (I'm 5' 5"). We wore Chacos but our feet ended up getting pretty beat up in the water, so I would probably recommend a sneaker you don't mind getting soaked and then bringing another pair of dry shoes. In the morning going out the water was extremely cold! However, it was totally worth it as the canyon was beautiful and the spring relaxing. The visitor center has maps available for $4 or can show you one before you go. They told us it was 14 miles round trip. There were several other people camping there while we were there during spring break, but there is plenty of room to spread out to camp near the spring, so you won't disturb one another.

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!

Easily one of the most scenic and exciting trails I've ever hiked -- but at a cost. The trail cuts through the river leading into the canyon. The water is VERY cold and the rocks are VERY sharp beneath the water. Be careful and be prepared. Bring a very light pair of extra shoes for the second half of the trail because we had to cross the river at knee depth 15 times (30 times total). Very worth it though!

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.

I have been here 4 times, I always enjoy the springs any time of the year! looking forward to catching that annual September trip @Thomas and Jay!

backpacking
5 months ago

I recommended working this trail clockwise because the significant climb/drop in the northwest corner may not have water at the top. I personally began at the Cliff Dwellings heading west on trail #151. Be sure to top off water before climbing north on trail #28. The view from the top of the northwest corner was breath taking. I camped the first night on the trail at the base of the switchbacks before crossing the river.

The second day I walked along the Middle Fork for eight miles within the cliff faces which rose hundreds of feet on both sides. Just like other reviews warned I crossed the river so many times I lost count (twenty? twenty-five? I dunno). Because of this I wore my river crossing sandals all day and trekking poles helped greatly. In the beginning I had trouble in the Meadows (near the intersection of trails #157 and #53) due to an overgrowth of vegetation. I followed one trail I presumed was man-made through tall grass into what I eventually believed was a bear den. It looked like a vegetation-made igloo filled with beautiful yellow flowers, freshly eaten animal bones, and bear scat nearby. No photos unfortunately as I did not want to become the next set of bones. After backing out I walked through the river for a time upon losing the trail to get away from the den. Thankfully I did not actually run into any bears face-to-face though signs of their presence were around. I later learned flooding took out many of the cairns causing frequent loss of the trail among the river rock however it almost always paralleled the river. About half way through the second day I passed the the Jordan Hot Springs which was a neat place to stop and rest. There were numerous camps sites across the river from the springs so please minimize your impact if visiting here.

Day three started as I entered the Little Bear (slot) Canyon southbound on trail #729. I hammock camped in an area previously used by others to save time but was extremely disappointed in the amount of trash left behind near Little Bear Canyon's intersection with the Middle-Fork river. The walk back to the starting point was fairly easy but the shade from the cliffs and trees disappeared by this point. Be sure to take a water purifier as I was advised by a Park Ranger that the rivers have Giaradia in them. In all, this was a beautiful hike which I will do again though losing the trail throughout the second day was frustrating.

did this recently although turned around at 3m in cuz baby wasn't gonna tolerate. took the dog and he really enjoyed the snow! we were just in boots and got to the base of the twin sisters area

When they say "hike a portion" they really mean "a portion."
The view from signal peak lookout is breathtaking, however to get there you're actually hiking an access road, which is really challenging because of the incline through a giant section of burned forest.
I'm a junkie for mileage so I enjoyed it, very challenging from the bottom up, even if it is only an access road. 1.5 liters of water was perfect.

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.

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