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Gila Box River Trail, AZ

no permit
71 13 0
Guide 13 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 0.5 of 5
Distance One Way 3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 3,152 feet
Elevation Gain 100 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 3.33
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2019-05-10
Riverview Campground-Gila Box RNCA
9  2018-03-28
Riverview Campground-Gila Box RNCA
4  2018-03-28 cactuscat
8  2017-05-17
Cottonwood Trail - Gila Box RNCA
15  2015-05-07 kingsnake
15  2014-05-01
Gila Box RNCA
20  2013-04-29 SkyIslander18
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
Associated Areas
list map done
Gila - Safford BLM
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Feb, Mar, Jan
Sun  6:03am - 6:22pm
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby

The Gila Box River Trail is the first water trail to be accepted into the Arizona State Trails System. It follows the Gila River corridor through the southwest corner of the Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. Visitors are invited to float the river in rafts, kayaks or canoes, or to follow the unmarked trail downstream on foot or horseback. The trail is closed to motorized vehicles and mountain bikes.

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2018-07-14 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 Reviews
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    My first time ever in Gila Box at 48
    It was a lot like when I was 47 ..... Awesome :y:
    Completed the entire Cottonwood Trail and hit a little bit of everything else.
    Ocotillos are leafy green, a few yellow flower bouquets along the roads, cottonwoods are mostly filled in.
    The Mighty Gila was flowing good, Bonita Creek was gentle.
    Saw a coati and several bighorns, but all were far across the river ](*,)
    It was a good reward day!

    Also want to wish RW a Happy B-Day ... Pisces Rock Arizona!
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Mine & Sabrina's 2nd run down the Gila River in 7 days.
    First trip started off a little rough with a flip over launch, today's trip went much better, but we once again had a minor flip at launch ..... that entry into the river is a bit tricky!
    The river seemed to be running a little stronger today than last week which made for a more sporting run over the rapids (II) and a bit of a quicker 3 mile time.
    We had 3 spectators for today's trip who followed us along the river above, Thanks much Joyce, Lowell & Fernando!
    Had as much fun as last week X2, Gila Box is starting to look fantastic with autumn colors & I never thought that river kayaking could become so addicting ..... perhaps a 3rd run next week :-k
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    :pk: ..... What an Adventure down that there Gila River!!!

    First our kayak experience resume -
    I have been kayaking lakes for a couple of years now, but never down a river.
    My last minute add-on partner Sabrina had never kayaked before in her life. We gave her a 15 minute lesson the night before on Roper Lake and she picked up the mechanics of it well.
    With that said, we headed to Gila Box for a go down the River Trail .....

    We arrived first at the river put-in to drop off the kayaks and was greeted by Kelly who was out-n-about taking pictures. We talked for a bit before driving back up to the river take-out. Parked the truck then walked the 2 miles back to the put-in. Kelly joined us again for the launch after playing with the coatimundies in Bonita creek.
    Then it was Go time ..... We picked a spot to enter that was a little bit of a concern due to the swift current, but I felt it was our safest choice. I pushed off first with Sabrina following. The current took me quickly away so I was unable to see what happened with her launch, and it wasn't good. I looked back to see her in a spin by the outer bank, then flipped over in the water, then being drug through the rapids ..... a very scary moment and terrible start to our trip!
    I pulled aside to the bank and was able to reach her in the rapids and get her back to the shore. We then jogged downstream and recovered her kayak in the calm water beyond the rapids. Thinking our trip was over, I checked her November water soaked body over for injuries and asked her what she thought? She said "that was an incredible adrenaline rush and I want to continue". I thought "this girl is crazy tough, I love it, lets go" !!!

    The rest of our paddle down was incredibly fun, we hit about 8 more sets of rapids (class II), took in all the awesome scenery around every bend of the river ..... high cliff walls, overhanging flora & the very interesting geology throughout. In only 1 short hour it was over as we pulled ashore at the take-out area. Kelly met up with us at the end to hear the story and show us the pics she got of our short journey.

    Twas only a 3 mile/1 hour run down the Gila Box River Trail and I would normally never write a log like this for such a short trip, but this was a first time activity for me & my partner. I can't remember the last time I've had so much shock, adrenaline & FUN run through my body in only 1 hour ..... one of my most memorable trips of 2016!

    We are now hooked and have already talked about running the other 20 miles of river that lies within Gila Box.

    A couple of honorary partner credits -
    AddSanz for letting us use her truck & kayak.
    Kelly for being our lifeline & personal photographer.
    Thanks Guys!

    Cottonwoods are in the light/medium stages of yellow.
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrating optionrating optionrated 2rated 2
    Wife is out of town, so I figured I would take the opportunity to do some hiking in area I'd never been to, let alone hiked.

    I really enjoyed the scenery driving across the San Carlos Reservation, then down the Gila River valley, which kind of reminded me of driving across Texas (except for the mountains in the distance). Especially with fields right up in the middle of town. The road from U.S. 70 to the Gila Box was actually paved most of the way, all except one short stretch, and the final mile down to Serna Cabin.

    The Gila River was moving pretty good, at the bottom of Bonita Creek (which was dry). Too strong to wade, and too wide to jump. So, I headed up a bank. When I hit a cliff, it was flowing less strongly, so I crossed to the south bank. Still, I almost lost my footing ... twice. I had been walking across the current, so I quickly deduced that the best technique was to face into the current and shuffle sideways, which I did on my many subsequent crossings.

    The south bank seemed more open, but it wasn't. The brush was not necessarily stabby, but it was grabby and trippy, and I got scratched up pretty good trying to power my way through. I decided to try hiking *in* the river.

    That proved even more interesting. Some places were only knee deep, some over waist high. I resorted to a mountain climbing technique of testing ahead with my pole, testing for depth, then stepping only if it seemed safe (not above waist deep). That got old, quick. It became rather obvious there was no trail, or if there was, I was not on it, and not likely to find it. I decided to bail.

    Once I got opposite Bonita Creek, I decided to check west, down stream. At first it seeemed more open, but then it brushed up as well. (It was only after returning, and re-reading the hike description, that I realized that west is the way to the boat landing.)

    Back at the Serna Cabin, some other folks had shown up, but they were unaware of the river trail's whereabouts. Despite being soaking wet, covered in mud, with seaweed sticking out my shoes, I took the time to drink a beer. I could not strip to dry clothes with other people around, so drove up to the observation point before getting naked. :whistle: I could hardly show up at the hotel check-in looking like I did! :D

    Old pair of hiking shoes ruined, I stopped at the Wal-Mart in Safford to pick up some cheap sandals and a Dickie's work shirt for the next day's hike into Aravaipa. (Chest pockets being good at keeping cameras and GPS's out waist high water.)

    Hike Video:
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Drove out to the Box mainly to get some stock pictures for the Safford Chamber of Commerce.
    I completed the entire Cottonwood trail then just hit a small portion of the other places photographing my favorite spots. I also visited the "Kearny ruin" and found some very good pottery including a nice Hohokam piece.
    The Gila River is starting to run low now and Bonita Creek is no longer running into the river.
    Saw lots of cactus blooms, many vultures & signs of coati everywhere in the mud.
    Today's dusty overcast made for difficult pictures so I will have to go back out soon and try it again, still no rattlesnake or Gila monster sightings.
    Gila Box River Trail
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Finally got the Gila Box River Trail in the books after procrastinating on it for 3 years!!!

    I was just waiting on a nice warm sunny day to get wet this early summer and today was the day. There is no marked foot-trail for this one, following the Gila River is the trail starting from the Serna Cabin Picnic Area and ending at the Boat Take-out 3 miles downriver. The hike requires a minimum of 6 river crossings but, getting lost in some of the thickets required me to make 8 to complete. Rather than backtrack the river, I took Gila Box road at the start to form a loop which IMO is the way to do this hike. Gila Box is now very green, the river was flowing good, the water crossings felt great and I shall return again for another round on this cool route! I think next time though, I will have to tube it down Salt River style 8)

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

    To hike
    From Safford, travel approximately five miles east on U.S. Highway 70 to the town of Solomon and turn left onto Sanchez Road. Travel north for eight miles, crossing the bridge at the Gila River, to a Gila Box RNCA sign. Turn left onto that dirt road. Travel another 3.8 miles and take the right fork in the road. Travel 0.6 mile to another fork and turn right. At the next fork, follow the signs left to the Bonita Creek Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area and Serna Cabin Picnic Area. The Gila Box River Trail is accessed by walking to the river from the Serna Cabin parking area. The river trail ends at the Dry Canyon Boat Take Out, approximately three miles downstream.
    page created by SkyIslander18 on Apr 29 2013 8:33 pm
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