Gila Loop Hike 

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Author: 4085956033
Date: 5 Jun 2006 1:25:18 AM
Source: Trimble Outdoors on my Nextel phone
Activity: Backpacking
State: New Mexico (NM)
Distance: 20.03 mi  (Change units)
Survey Elevation: Total Gain: 11837 ft
Total Loss: 10964 ft
Net Change: 873 ft
Difficulty: 5 / 10
Tags: Backpacking, Datil, Hiking, loop, Mogollon, New Mexico
Rating: Unrated   Rate it

Looking for panoramic views and classic riverbed campsites? Spend a few days or more exploring two of the major tributaries of the Gila River starting at the gateway to the Gila Wilderness near the Gila Cliff dwellings. Marvel at the raw and primitive landscape that inspired Aldo Leopold to champion the cause of making the Gila the nations first wilderness. Follow in his footsteps as you explore scenic canyons and spiritual mesa tops. Your senses will be at full tilt as you make your way from desert trailheads in to lush river valleys. If you’re lucky, you might even see signs of the lobo (Mexican Gray Wolf) – or maybe, just maybe see lobo in person! TOPOS: Gila Hot Springs, Little Turkey Park, and Woodland Park. Wilderness Ranger District - Silver City, New Mexico Guide Book: The Gila Wilderness: A Hiking Guide, by John A. Murray Getting there- Take NM 5 N from Silver City. At 26.2 miles bear left on NM 35. Follow road to Gila Cliff Dwellings located past lower and upper Scorpion CG.

Position Format: Datum:

Day 1

Distance: 8.95 mi Points: 670
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
This is the hardest day with the bulk of the elevation gain.

Day Two

Distance: 7.40 mi Points: 455
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Countless river crossings and a slight loss of elevation.

Day Three

Distance: 3.68 mi Points: 293
Total Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
Active Time: none Speed: 0.0 mph Pace: 0:00 / mi
A dry hike out.

Points of Interest

156-28 Junction

Location: 33.297577, -108.324379 Altitude: 2190
Enjoy panoramic views of the canyon below as you start steep descent to large flat area called The Meadows.

157-729 Junction

Location: 33.272171, -108.259918 Altitude: 1790
Follow Little Bear Canyon back to TJ Coral starting in beautiful slot canyon.

161-164-28 Junction

Location: 33.274517, -108.294144 Altitude: 2115
Shorter trees on mesa tops afford little shade. Hike after spring runoff or in fall.

Camp One

Location: 33.304466, -108.319405 Altitude: 1936
A smaller side canyon along dry Indian Creek offers more secluded camping.

Camp Two

Location: 33.266273, -108.259041 Altitude: 1854
From this point on you can find good camping spots, but carry water with you because this is about the last place you will find any.

Descend to the Meadows

Location: 33.297237, -108.323898 Altitude:
The meadows is an obvious camping spot. It can be very busy. Look towards smaller side canyons for isolated camping.

Faint Sign

Location: 33.228672, -108.253113 Altitude:
It's a little hard to read, but sign actually indicates 1.5 miles back to West Fork. The road is about a mile.

Faint Trail

Location: 33.234867, -108.248184 Altitude: 1776
An old, possibly abandoned trail that indicated it went to the VC was visible here. This trail would provide additional different loop possibilities.

Gila Cliff Dwellings

Location: 33.229382, -108.263985 Altitude: 1724
Park here. You may want to take time before your hike to explore these ancient ruins.

Intersect TJ trail

Location: 33.274601, -108.293747 Altitude:
An optional loop is to follow trail 161 to this point rather than hike up the West Fork. This eliminates the road hike back to your car at the end of this loop.


Location: 33.244637, -108.291489 Altitude:
Dry hike to the meadows.

Little Bear Canyon Turn

Location: 33.271969, -108.259369 Altitude:
This is a shortcut back to TJ Coral where you will hike road back to your car. If you continue to follow Middle Fork, stop at the hot springs, but you will have a much longer hike. The slot canyon at the begining of Little Bear is worth exploring.

Little Creek Junction

Location: 33.237343, -108.280396 Altitude: 1739
This trail leads down EE Canhon towards little creek.

Looking NW.

Location: 33.297989, -108.322395 Altitude:
Enjoy panoramic views of the canyon.

Lunch spot

Location: 33.277748, -108.297752 Altitude: 2143
Carry plenty of water across the mesa. None is available along the way.

Middle Fork

Location: 33.293865, -108.297874 Altitude: 1831
Loose yourself and your count of river crossings, but keep an eye out for poison ivy and singing nettle.

One of many crossings

Location: 33.294140, -108.297409 Altitude:
During this hike, the river was at a historical low. Although no crossings were deeper than 2', high water marks above 4' were visible in places.

TJ Coral

Location: 33.227184, -108.251404 Altitude: 1705
This is the end of the trail for this loop hike. Walk the road back to your car at the Cliff Dwellings parking lot.

Trail fork 151-28

Location: 33.244476, -108.291786 Altitude: 1831
Start the bulk of the elevation gain – 2,782’. Climb out of the west fork canyon to dry mesa top leaving water behind until you reach middle fork.

Trail Junction

Location: 33.228588, -108.253204 Altitude: 1726
You have the option of following trail back to the West Fork, but hiking the road is shorter.

VC Sign

Location: 33.234856, -108.247955 Altitude:
Sign indicates 1/2 mile to VC. Trail did not look well used, but navigation s/b easy if you decide to take this trail because you can almost see the VC from this point.

Wilde Grapes

Location: 33.236092, -108.278435 Altitude:
Keep an eye out for wild grapes that lurk around every corner when you are hiking along the riverbeds.

Wilderness Boundary

Location: 33.234886, -108.271996 Altitude: 1724
Follow sandy trails as you pass through wide open spaces surrounded by alligator juniper and pinon trees

Wilderness Boundary

Location: 33.229939, -108.252121 Altitude: 1749

Wilderness Boundary

Location: 33.235432, -108.271576 Altitude:

Wolf Country

Location: 33.229515, -108.265099 Altitude:
Although the chances of seeing lobo ar low, keep an eye and an ear out.

wpt 0261

Location: 33.253738, -108.250740 Altitude: 1893

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