Explore the most popular river 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.

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.

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!

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.

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).

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!).

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.

birding
4 months ago

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

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!

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

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.

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.

on Dragonfly Trail

8 months ago

Beautiful easy trail.

Very nice area need to us grudging grave trail to access west fork many river crossings and a cliff dwelling

ppvojk

This was our third annual trip to the Jordan. This time we took some time to go check out the cliff dwellings first. It is located two minutes away and takes about an hour in total. We hiked to the Jordan, (awesome), we stayed two nights, and hiked out. After the hike out we hit one of the cultivated spring resorts along the 15. It cost $5 to enter and had three pools. There is nothing as satisfying as a hot soak after a 7 mile hike just before a long drive home.

my third time here......awesome trail, and hot springs. ...please let's keep this place beautiful. ......you can see the impact that us as humans have on the area........pack it in , pack it out. ......let's keep this a gem of a place !

A must do!

hiking
9 months ago

For me this hike took 1:40 minutes. I met a couple on trail and woman w/2 dogs, one on leash, another off. I have been on this trail twice before but never completed the loop because I did not know what to expect. With Alltrails I know now what to expect on a trail.

My favorite hike in the area. Big reward for the effort

Would be a 5 but you will need a high profile vehicle, also a longer drive down dirt roads. No one there on Labor Day. VERY nice

My favorite hike in the area. The canyon of the Middle Fork is beautiful and impressive, the wading/river crossings are fun. Little Bear Canyon is fun too, the hike out of the canyon is okay. From TJ Corral to the TH of the Middle Fork you can try to follow the river instead of using the road.

hiking
10 months ago

Very nice parcial shade nice petroglyphs

Nice short trail in arroyo there is water but no hot springs

backpacking
Thursday, June 08, 2017

A secluded spot with great rewards. High water and flash flooding can be an issue so be on your toes. We startled a large bull elk further up the very tight canyon and were notably scared as it charged down the canyon at us.

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