Little Bear Canyon Middle Fork Gila Loop Trail

HARD 13 reviews
#4 of 50 trails in

Little Bear Canyon Middle Fork Gila Loop Trail is a 10.8 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Datil, New Mexico that features a river and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

10.8 miles
1,010 feet

dog friendly



nature trips




wild flowers

Hike from the west fork thru a slot canyon to the middle fork of Gila River. From the trailhead take the West Fork stock bypass trail west for 0.25 miles. Turn right on the Little Bear Canyon trail (Trail 729). At 2 miles pass the Lilly Park Trail junction. At 4 miles intersect the Gila River Middle Fork Trail (Trail 157). Take trail 157 to the right for 6 miles and 30 river crossings. After the 30th river crossing watch for a smaller trail raising gently up to the left. This trail is right behind the visitors center and about 1.5 miles from the TJ Corral. WARNING - Little Bear Canyon can flash-flood quickly. Stay alert if there are storms in the area. River crossings can become dangerous if flash flooding occurs. Keep alert - even if storms are not visible from your location, flooding may occur from heavy rains upstream of your location.

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.

horseback riding
2 months ago

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!

9 months ago

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.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

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.

Monday, April 04, 2016

One of the most amazing trails ever! Very awesome!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Nice hike! Wound up going to Jordan Springs for 2 nights. Plenty of water and scenery. Went in October mid week. Hardly anyone there.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Did this hike Oct 13,15.....very scenic, not a lot of people on the trail, the hike was worth it's weight in platinum. ....camped by Jordan hot springs, paradise on earth, water from river was so good, tasted better than Evian, I wanna do this trip in winter, who's down?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Great hike traversing multiple types of terrain, high desert to river valley, as many as 10 river crossings we brought extra shoes to change into but after about the 3rd one we just stayed in the boots. It is honestly one of the best hikes I have ever done can't wait until my kid is old enough to enjoy it with me.
As a note we parked the car at the end of the trail so we could be done with walking after the hike.... Just a thought.

1 month ago

recorded Gila Hike #1

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Sunday, June 22, 2014