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Bear Canyon Trail #125, AZ

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Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Sierra Vista
5 of 5 by 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Distance One Way 3.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,889 feet
Elevation Gain 2,185 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 10.68
Backpack Possible & Connecting
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
10  2018-05-29
Bear Spring Trail
34  2012-06-08 MAVM
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → Early
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:09am - 6:18pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Ol' Grizz Playground
by HAZ_Hikebot

The bears this trail is said to have been named for were grizzlies. They are now extinct in the southwest, but black bears can still be found in the area. People who come here say Bear Canyon retains more of a feeling of wildness than other canyons in the area. Perhaps that's because of its name, or maybe it's because this out-of-the-way place is a bit more remote and less visited than others in the Huachucas.

Bear Canyon is an area of big trees, towering cliffs and abandoned mines. It is a steep canyon, and the normally dry streambed that runs through it is punctuated with precipitous plunges that become waterfalls during the spring snowmelt and after summer rains. The area surrounding Bear Canyon is the source of a number of legends; of lost gold mines, buried treasure and ghosts left over from battles with the Apaches. And there are other ghosts here as well. The remains of a wooly mammoth were discovered in this canyon fairly recently. Travelers on the Bear Canyon Trail may not find many mammoth remains, but they will run across evidence of old mining digs and miner's cabins. In a number of places, the trail follows what's left of the primitive roads these fortune-hunting pioneers carved into the mountainside.

The Bear Canyon Trail climbs to an elevation of 8,060 feet at Bear Saddle, where it joins the Crest Trail #103. This major Wilderness trail provides access to the high ridges of the Huachucas and a number of connecting trails. From the saddle, the Bear Canyon Trail drops nearly 500 feet to Bear Spring where it joins the Ida Canyon Trail #110. If you use a second car for a shuttle, you may complete a loop trip incorporating the Bear Canyon Trail by returning down the mountain via the Ida Canyon Trail or Oversite Canyon Trail #112.

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2008-06-12 HAZ_Hikebot

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking 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.
    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 Review
    Bear Canyon Trail #125
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Bear Canyon had long been staring at me from the map of the Hiking Trails of the Huachuca Mountains. It was reputed to be the last genuine wild canyon in the home range - or at least as wild as anything can be - considering it is within the bounds of the Miller Peak Wilderness management district. The day was set to be hot & dry as one might expect this time of year - where the only thing of impending importance in Arizona is the coming Chubasco (monsoon) season.

    Bear Canyon's lore is well earned... I was pleased with my choice of outings upon approaching the trail head via the 4x4 route of FR 4774 - having had detailed conversation with the BP agent stopped along the way. I always try to inform the agent nearest to my destination as to my intentions - as this easily quells any suspicions re: my vehicle placement, etc. in this remote area. That ALL routes into the Huachuca Mountains on the border facing slope are spurs of the Pan-American highway is well understood around these parts. I planned to head-up to Bear Spring and then on above toward Bear Saddle. I was more interested in actually observing bear activity than merely hiking up to Crest Trail. The 500' elevation transition area between the spring and saddle being the principal zone for Bear denning and such.

    The canopy begins almost immediately upon entering the trail and builds as you ascend. There are but a few places between the trailhead and the ridge that are entirely open for outward viewing, as this is not Ida Canyon next door. The only route marker is the weathered generic 'Miller Peak Wilderness' sign at the end of FR4774. From here, there is nothing except Bear Creek and the trail that laces itself to and fro twinning the watercourse neath live oak and juniper - one of the Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana) along the trail is a true old growth forest survivor - 8 feet in diameter and < 50'+ in height. The tree bears scars of recent fires and is best estimated at 300 - 500 years old. (see photos)

    Above a certain elevation - just before the steep switchbacks take you away from the creek bed which is currently running and quite audibly for portions of the trail - the overt presence of bears is piled up right there on the trail, as large piles of scat become widely evident from this point onward. The copious number of felled trees across the route add to the true wilderness ambiance that this secluded canyon is long on - such a timeless place! The Arizona Sycamores - as they are prone to do - line the middle of the creek from early in the hike, as there is an abundance of various flora to delight the determined visitor. After the steepening switchbacks return to creek level, expect to find Maidenhair Fern, Various Docks, Verbena, Columbines (at this writing), Poison Ivy, Shavegrass, Nettles and Miner's Lettuce in verdant shared layers, lining the trail and creek upward toward Bear Spring...this is some serious payback for the effort...couple this with a pronounced intermittent breeze for evaporation and WOW!

    The spring flows on-and-on at about 7,600' in elevation. Not at all different than the last time I was here via Ida Canyon 4 weeks ago. On the scale of water source reliability Bear Spring gets a strong 3 out of 4 rating. I ate my second feed of the hike on the same stump as I had previously for reflection, then spent the remainder of my time in this lush place very carefully seeking out evidence of bear dens between the spring and ridge contours. This area of the hike finally gives way to the massive Conifers (that began to show up a bit earlier elevation wise) and Gambel Oak that first become established above the spring. I found evidence of an active bear populous without too much effort (yet never sighted the shy critters)..., also I may have stumbled onto the areas bear outhouse, as a pressed down non-den type area about 5' x 10' was just filled with the remains of what must be a very healthy population of this canyon's namesake.

    Elevation correction has been applied to the AEG calculation - GPS Route Available

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

    Map Drive
    Strictly 4x4

    To hike
    Drive south 13 miles out of Sierra Vista on Arizona Highway 92 to the Coronado Memorial Road (FR 61). Turn right (south) and continue through the Coronado National Memorial on FR 61. From Montezuma Pass, follow FR 61 west about 5.5 miles to a 4-wheel drive road that leads north into Bear Canyon. It's 1.6 miles on this road to the Wilderness boundary and trailhead. The trail is also accessible from the Ida Canyon Trail at Bear Spring.
    page created by joebartels on Jun 12 2008 4:54 pm
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