Worth the Effort...
Well, Wills Canyon Trail neither starts nor ends in Wills Canyon. In fact, it is really not about traversing Wills Canyon at all. For that, Wills Canyon Road combined with Upper Wills Canyon Trail provide the true canyon meadow experience.
Wills Canyon Trail comprises a sort of horse shoe loop, breaking off from Willie White Trail (t113)at the top of Willie White Canyon, following a side drainage down into Wills Canyon, then once there, catches the old railroad grade from Hubbell Canyon, and follows it along the high ridge side above the north side of Wills Canyon, winding pleasantly around under the trees. Eventually, the grade winds up, around and back over into Willie White Canyon, and terminates at the Willie White Trail.
Included in all this winding are rough remains of the old rail bed, including the rotting hulk of one of the trestles. At a sharp hairpin curve the reversing switchback grade is still clearly evident... here the train would proceed up and past the hairpin till the final car had cleared, then the track would be switched, and the rear of the train would roll back down and onto the up grade, and proceed on up and around with the caboose in the forefront for the next portion of the climb.
Down at Willie White Canyon, the railbed included yet another switchback grade, proceeding on up Willie White Canyon for aways.
It is interesting to take note of the differences in the trail grades. The ones once cut to include the train log haulers have a softer grade with softer curves, and often a more substantial gravel bed... and often bits of coal and cinder left scattered in the bed. Adjoining these main train tracks are the logging roads and drag line routes. Most every canyon holds the remnants of one or the other; these mountains were extensively logged up until 1948.
Along the main forest roads, active logging continues to this day...
Wills Canyon Trail is a great hike. You will obviously have to include it with other routes to put together an effective loop. It can be accessed from above off of Forest Road 64... (Hubbell Canyon Trail... Upper Wills Canyon Trail... July Canyon.... fr6411.... ) Or from below off of the Rio Penasco Road (Willie White Trail: either end!... Or Wills Canyon Road).
The mileages are liable to be long for some of these connecting loops. It would be best to plan wisely. The trail intersections are nicely and clearly marked at this time, but I have encountered horseback riders well lost. A wrong turn can cost you a great many additional high elevation miles.
Plan for rain or even ice storms in the summer monsoon season!
Note: some maps may have this trail labeled as the Hubbell Canyon Trail. While it is an extension of the old railway that traversed Hubbell Canyon, officially, Hubbell Canyon Trail deadends into the Upper Wills Canyon Trail, terminating at that point. - Jul 24 2012 imikeOne-Way Notice:
This hike is listed as One-Way. When you hike several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example