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Bear Wallow Trail #63, AZ

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302 18 1
Guide 18 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Alpine > Alpine S
3.7 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 16 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,730 feet
Elevation Gain -2,000 feet
Accumulated Gain 4,271 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7-9 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 37.36
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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12  2018-07-21 DarthStiller
5  2018-07-21 wallyfrack
8  2017-06-17
Reno Trail #62
16  2014-07-19 VolcanoCLMBR
40  2014-06-24
Pacheta Falls the Hard Way
24  2014-05-31
Rose Schell Reno Bear Wallow
23  2014-05-30
Rose Spring Trail
43  2013-07-12 friendofThunderg
Page 1,  2
Author Rays
author avatar Guides 1
Routes 0
Photos 0
Trips 8 map ( 43 miles )
Age 73 Male Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Jun, Aug, Sep → 8 AM
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:06am - 6:15pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
The Bears Are Watching
by Rays

Likely In-Season!
2016 Note
2016 check triplogs for more recent conditions.

The Bear Wallow Wilderness is a lush valley with a perennial stream running through it located just south of Hannagan Meadow. We camped close to the trailhead the first night and awoke to howling coyotes answered by wolves. It was absolutely haunting! The next morning we shouldered our packs and descended 700 feet to Bear Wallow Creek. Even though it was late October, the forest was incredibly green with huge spruce trees with hanging moss. Springs seeped from the canyon walls. The stream was crystal clear with an occasional Apache trout darting from sunlight to shadow. There were small meadows with abundant elk sign. We continued another 2 miles to the junction of Schell Canyon where we camped for the night. T shirts were followed by more layers as the temperature plunged into the 20s.

The next day we day hiked another 3 miles into the canyon dropping another 1200 feet. We crossed the creek 12 times and at one point the trail climbed the canyon wall and became quite narrow. The scenery continued to amaze us. The highlight was a high canyon wall with ferns and hanging grasses that reminded us of the Fern Grotto in Hawaii! The bear bells came out when we saw the first bear skat. More followed along with large over turned rocks. We didn't see the bears but I swear they were watching us.

We could have continued another 2 miles to the end of the trail but chose to get back to camp before dark. The next day we sadly climbed back to the trail head for our trip home.

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2007-11-11 Rays
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  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
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    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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I had not been to Bear Wallow in a long time and I was interested in seeing how the area was looking and its trails. We started early to beat the heat and chose the Reno Trail to reach Bear Wallow Creek.

Reno has a little deadfall, but is generally in great shape and probably one of the best trails for reaching Bear Wallow Creek right now. After reaching the intersection of Bear Wallow Trail, we continued to the confluence of the north and south fork of Bear Wallow Creek. Bear Wallow Trail needs some work and there is poison ivy everywhere, however, the area is still scenic and it seems to be recovering. After hiking back to the trailhead, we walked the road up to the Reno fire tower.
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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Based on Hike AZ's glowing Hiking Description of Bear Wallow #63 and my wife's fond memories of hiking it in her youth, we planned a two day backpacking trip in the on Bear Wallow Wilderness to celebrate our anniversary and enjoy the fall colors.

We aborted the trip after two hours. This is our story.

From the trailhead/parking lot, We went along an obvious path for about a mile before a GPS check showed us that we were going the wrong way on an old 4x4 road. Turning around, we overshot the trail *again* and had to bushwhack with the GPS in-hand to find it. The trail is almost completely overgrown and not marked or cairn'ed.

We descended through the canyon, constantly losing the trail as we debated aborting the trip. Though the forecast showed a 0% chance of precipitation, clouds loomed overhead. A combination of fire damage, overgrowth, a feeling of complete isolation, and a freshly gnawed on deer carcass straddling the creek (which was supposed to be our water source) finally convinced us to leave.

We ended up spending our anniversary repeating an old favorite: Mt. Baldy. We loved every minute of it.

The hike imparted an important lesson: check for recent trip logs in hike AZ. When we got back, I saw that the last log for this trail was 2014, and discussed the overgrown trail.

If any mods are reading this, I would ask that a note be made to the main Hiking Description for this trail.

Maybe some day a stewardship hike can be organized to clear the trail and make some cairns. I have been told it is a fantastic area and I would hate to see it lost and forgotten.
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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Very cool that the main canyon was spared the ravages of the Wallow Fire. Good flow in the creek below the springs, unfortunately there were several cows roaming the canyon, with lots of patties everywhere, so carry lots or carefully purify. Climbed out of the canyon north up Gobbler Point #59 (fairly easy to follow except the top half mile or so which is choked with downed trees), road walked back east a few miles and dropped back down into the canyon on Reno #62, then back up and out to the trailhead. Very nice canyon, except for the hordes of flies and gnats that hover right in front of your face, try to get in your eyes and get sucked into your throat.
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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Rose Schell Reno Bear Wallow
Lee offered to drive, and since you can get to Rocky Point, San Diego, LA, Durango, and a few other places in less time, that was a welcome offer.

Having never been to this part of the White Mountains, I was intrigued. Especially after the fire. Some of the ridgelines were moonscape, but a very surprising part of the fire area are untouched, or only affected a little bit. Borderline healthy. In the moonscape areas, the aspens are growing strong with thick stands now 5-10 feet tall. In not too many years, these areas will be fantastic!

After playing Elk Pinball on the Coronado Hwy at dusk, we arrived at the Rose Spring TH and crashed there for the night. In the morning we headed out on the Rose Spring trail and were a little frustrated by the unanticipated elevation gains. It hurt a little bit to get out to the Schell junction. Which btw, is impossible to find if you don't have a track. The upper drainage has no noticeable route, and the sign is mostly burned.

Once headed down Schell, the route becomes evident, and the canyon is a real pleasant hike. The slope is perfect, and the foliage makes for a shaded, scenic trip. There's a fantastic grassy camp spot at the junction with the South Fork Bear Wallow Creek, which is also where the first water appeared for us. Just over half a mile later we reached the confluence of the north and south forks where they create the main stem of Bear Wallow Creek.

We set up camp a few hundred yards downstream of the confluence. After a short break, we headed up the north fork one mile to the junction with the Reno Trail where we ascended 2 miles to the road. The Reno trail is a gem! A nice moderate grade is an easy hike from the road to Bear Wallow Creek the lower half of which is shaded in pines with running water in the creek, and the upper half which is in burn area with well-established new aspen.

At the road, we hiked the additional half mile to the lookout tower. The views were great, but a little stunning. Looking north, as far as you could see, the landscape was affected by the Wallow Fire in 2011. Only Baldy to the northwest was untouched. On the horizon, the hills around Greer and Escudilla were torched. The fire began within a couple miles of this tower, and these landmarks are 30 miles away. All torched. That's a lot of land!

Even though Lee wanted to hike an additional 9-10 miles (depending on how we cut the switchbacks in the road) to make a loop back to camp, I decided I'd rather get back before dark and enjoy the beer I had left in the creek. Had I not been there to wuss out, I'm sure he would have done the extra miles on his own. But I value some relaxation time when I'm backpacking, and getting to camp after dark isn't my first choice. Unless that's the original plan.

Back at camp, we cooked up dinner, spent some fun time under the party lights, and retired for the night.

Sunday we hiked out via the South Fork canyon. There was an occasional wildlife trail, but for the most part we hiked in the creek, which had water in it all the way to where we headed up a very steep ridge toward the trailhead.

If I were to do it again, I might skip the Rose Spring trail, and drop into the creek via our exit route. It is steep but short, and cuts a few miles off the hike. But you have to be prepared for a very steep, off-trail hillside until you get to the creek.

Nice weekend with good people. Never been this far south in the White Mtns. I will surely be back.

Note: Bear Wallow Creek is the king of Poison Ivy. I've never seen so much PI in Arizona anywhere. Including Vasey's Paradise! The lower stretches of Schell, South Fork, and Reno also have poison ivy growing wildly along the trail. As a crazy-allergic poison ivy person, I prepared ahead of time and hiked with "dirty" clothes. As soon as I got to camp, I changed clothes and kept all my gear clear. Sleeping bag, tent, backpack, etc. The "dirty" clothes went in a ziploc bag and straight in the washer at home. I also scrubbed with Technu and rinsed in the creek. It'll be another day before I know for sure, but I think I came out of it all clear. Knock on wood.
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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I returned to Bear Wallow Wilderness this weekend with two friends, Chumley and Kim. We left Tempe at about 2:30 and were arriving at Rose Spring TH right around eight. I know as Chumley pointed out around hour two or three into the drive that there are comparable areas closer to Phoenix. However, I fell in love with the area last year and had been dying to get back. The remoteness of the area, lack of people and its historical connections to Leopold and his old stomping grounds is just enough to keep me coming back to this area.

I really had no solid plan. I had nixed my original plan to visit Pacheta Falls via Gobbler Point and a long off trail route earlier in the week, so I was content with just a nice trip into the wilderness and a little exploring. Took in some nice view along the rim, before dropping down Schell Canyon Trail into the narrow wilderness area. Nobody was smoked, but I think the general consensus was the rolling grade of the first three miles or so of Rose Spring coupled with hovering around 9000 feet certainly got the heart going early in the morning. We ended up making camp off Bear Wallow Trail, from there we headed up Reno Trail to the fire tower.

The Reno Trail did not disappoint. We saw what most of us agreed were perhaps a few of the largest Pine we have seen in the state, along with a quaint little spring area, and a flowing side drainage that was surprisingly still pushing a lot of water to feed Bear Wallow Creek and ultimately the Black River. Signs of the fire were few in this area. The lookout tower offered some spectacular and sobering views of the surrounding countryside. Chumley hammed it up with the watch tower guy for a bit while I finished off my lunch and Kim enjoyed the views. We returned the same route we took to the tower.

The rest of the evening included scrubbing our bodies in an attempt to remove any lingering urisol oils courtesy of the relatively thick in spots dreaded poison ivy we encountered in several spots. We then just enjoyed a picturesque "backpacker magazine" spot along the creek, had some dinner, chatted a little and kind of half crashed around 7 or 8 for myself..

The next morning Kim and I explore further down the creek a little while Chumley packed up. We opted for an off trail route to reach the TH. Rather than Schell Canyon to Rose Spring, we opted for the route the crow flies. We headed up the South Fork of Bear Wallow Creek until reaching the most obvious X-fill route and then headed up a steep but manageable ridge line to the road leading to Rose Spring TH completing our loop. The South Fork decision proved to be a great one, as we came across a few picturesque area and the hiking proved to be pretty standard off-trail creek hiking.

Final Notes: Was happy to complete Reno Trail as it lead to a 100% completion percentage for myself in Bear Wallow Wilderness. I can now legitimately say I hiked (not linked ;) ) every mile of trail in Bear Wallow Wilderness, my first fully completed wilderness area.

Disclaimer I know the kind of guy Chumley is, he will almost certainly blame his poison ivy on my dogs, however, remember it was not the dog's decision to wear shorts on Saturday despite several warnings.
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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I lead a group of beginning and intermediate backpackers into the Bear Wallow wilderness for a one night backpacking trip. We camped before the hike at the gravel pit on FR 25 on the way out to the Reno Trailhead (where we left our shuttle vehicle). It wasn't an ideal spot for a hammocker, but it was great for tents. High and dry - and if you wanted a sky show, it'd be a great spot. Of course, it rained for us, so no show.

The hike was delightful. See photos for more detail, but to sum up, the area is not nearly as devastated as you might think given the severity of last year's Wallow Fire. Though we passed through many bad burn areas, there was lots of new growth, especially ferns, aspens and wildflowers. The Rose Spring and Schell Canyon trails had not been cleared since the burn, but there weren't many downed trees or badly washed out places. The group of beginners was able to keep to the trail and didn't once complain about obstacles (other than being a little sooted up).

There was a maintenance crew on the Bear Wallow trail, and they'd entered on the Reno Trail, so those two routes were in really good shape. The canyon bottom was beautiful, and though there were signs of the fire, overall it was a lush, green wildflower haven. I'd definitely go back in a heart-beat!

My crew was fantastic - they were good-natured, happy and fun. I'd only ever hiked with one of them before, so it could have been much worse! Only one of the group had any trouble at all, and his was more an issue of learning about lighter gear than anything else. I bet that giant sleeping bag has already been replaced!

I was staying with my mom at Hon Dah, so on the way home I took the Three Forks Road. Really nice drive - beautiful scenery and a smooth road. Next time I'll go that way rather than detouring all the way through Springerville!

It's great to be back on the trail!
Bear Wallow Trail #63
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There are 3 major Wilderness Areas to hike East or West off Hwy#191 between Alpine,AZ, and South to the Hannagan Meadow area: the Escudilla Wilderness(Alpine area), the Blue Range Wilderness and Primitive Area(Hannagan Meadow-East of Hwy#191) and the Bear Wallow Wilderness(Hannagan Meadow-WEST of Hwy#191).

This planned "vehicle shuttle hike", hiking in the HEART of the beautiful, old growth forest-11,000 acre, Bear Wallow Wilderness, was without doubt, one through hike I will always remember and will look forward to doing again!

Trip Route: Park the "1st vehicle" at the Bear Wallow Tr#63 TH at 8675' (3.1mls up FR25 fm Hwy#191..well maintained gravel road); Park the "2nd vehicle" at the Rose Spring Tr#309 TH at 8500' (6.5mls up FR54 fm Hwy#191..not recommended for passenger cars, but small SUV's OK when dry)..Note: Driving distance between the two vehicles is one way;
Start this scenic and beautiful 9.7 ml through hike at the Rose Spring Tr#309 TH; Continue downhill, then up, then level, for ~3.4mls on #309 to the intersection of Schell Canyon Tr#316 at 8620'; Continue on #316 for 2.8mls downhill(-1100') through this gorgeous/lush green, old growth forest steep/narrow SCHELL CANYON to its end and intersection with the Bear Wallow Tr#63 and Creek at 7500'; Turn Right on Tr#63 and continue along this trail/creek (watch out for lots of "Poison Ivy" for the first; Continue hiking South/East along Tr#63 for 3.5mls and +1175' to it end at the Bear Wallow TH where you left your "1st vehicle";

On this through hike while hiking on the Rose Spring Trail , at most any point before reaching the Schell Canyon Tr, IF one takes the time to go approx 100-200yrs OFF TRAIL to the LEFT through the forest canopy, one is awarded with some spectacular high RIM VIEWS of this huge mountain-wilderness area to the SOUTH..

Due to the +/-1100ft elevation gain/loss in 2.8mls when hiking the scenic Schell Canyon Tr#316, I think it makes better sense to try and do this vehicle shuttle IF possible, but if you can't, then try to hike it as an "in and out" from the Rose Spring TR/TH...which will make it a 12.4ml total hike, BUT will give you the biggest "bang for the buck"; Schell Canyon is absolutely gorgeous (and a great backpacking campsite resides with two creeks converging about .5ml in from the intersection with the Bear Wallow Tr#63) and there were times while hiking this canyon when we thought we were in a tropical rain forest somewhere in Central America- "lush green with dense varieties of vegetation and wild strawberries everywhere!. Also, this was the day that I thought we were actually going to see a BLACK BEAR on the trail. We passed bear scat so fresh, that you could smell the odor while hiking by... but we did not see any, probably due to us talking too much.

Another couple of nice day hikes in the Bear Wallow Wilderness would be to just hike the Rose Spring Tr#309 to it end at ROSE SPRING 5.4ml "one way" & -2k' and/or to hike from the Bear Wallow Tr#63 TH down to the intersection of Schell Canyon Tr#316 or continue North on the Bear Wallow Tr. It goes for a total of 7.6mls "one way" along Bear Wallow Creek to the boundary of the San Carlos Indian Reservation (I understand that this hike is a popular backpacking and fishing route- for the allusive APACHE TROUT!!)......

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

To hike
From Phoenix, take 87 to Payson, turn right (north) on 260 to Showlow. You will jog through town and pick up 260 again (watch signs). Take to 191 (Springerville) and go south to Hannagan Meadow. Continue on 191 for another 4.3 miles and go west on FR 25. Go approximately 3 miles to the trailhead (63) on the left hand side of the road. Allow about 5 1/2 hours driving time.
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