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Jordan Hot Springs - Gila, NM

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Guide 16 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List NM > Southwest
4.4 of 5 by 7
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Round Trip 14 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,669 feet
Elevation Gain 850 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 18.25
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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9  2018-04-14 writelots
10  2017-10-21 friendofThunderg
11  2016-04-09 maryl
90  2014-06-14
Jordan Hot Springs Loop
11  2014-06-14
Jordan Hot Springs Loop
17  2013-07-07
Meadows - Hells Hole Loop
4  2012-03-13 lP14
13  2011-04-23 Sarae
Page 1,  2
Author writelots
author avatar Guides 19
Routes 39
Photos 5,577
Trips 337 map ( 3,894 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Mar, Nov, Apr, Oct
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:00am - 6:11pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby springs...
by writelots

This is a fantastic loop hike to one of the most beautiful spots in the Gila Wilderness. Although it can be done in a day, the springs are definitely more fun at night, and there is excellent backcountry camping nearby. This area is becoming more and more popular, but if you go on a weekday, you're virtually guaranteed to have this gem all to yourself.

Begin the hike on the Little Bear Canyon Trail at TJ Corral near the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. If you're bringing two cars, it helps to leave one at the Nat. Monument visitor center (where the trail ends). The Little Bear Canyon trail beings with a gentle ascent up the plateau, quickly gaining some magnificent views across the Mogollon Range. Threading through junipers and pinon pines, you'll make your way gradually to a minor drainage and follow it to it's headwaters at a low saddle. This climb takes about 2 miles and gains around 750', and it's the only real up hill along the whole hike. Congrats!

Now you get to descend into Little Bear Canyon, which would be worth the hike all on it's own. It quickly begins to narrow, and as the canyon walls close in you realize why there was a sign warning about the dangers of flash flooding at the trailhead. The bottom of Little Bear is sometimes as close as 15', with the walls reaching high above. There's usually a trickle of water near the bottom of this short canyon, but usually not enough to get your feet wet (you'll have plenty of that later). At about mile 4.25 you come to the confluence with the Middle Fork Gila River.

From here, cross the stream, turn left (upstream) and follow the Middle Fork for another 2 miles to the spring. This area is beautiful, with rock spires and vertical canyon walls, lush riparian vegetation and the river itself - a crystal clear babbling watercourse with a fair number of smallish trout and other fishies. Water levels vary from mid-calf to nearly waist high depending on the time of year - and you'll have as many as 15 crossings between the confluence and the springs (the trail changes some from year to year depending on flooding and stream course changes). The spring itself is up a little ways on a steep path. A small stone dam creates a crystal clear pool just the right depth for soaking in - and it's filled by a small, warm waterfall. A canopy created by a beautiful tree completes the picture perfect spot. The hot spring is really more of a warm spring - I've heard reports of between 99 and 100 degrees. Nice for soaking in without turning into a prune. Please leave this spot as pristine as you found it - candle wax isn't a part of my prefered wilderness experience.

There are a number of prime camping spots along this stretch - many of them tucked under pines and sycamores just off the water's edge. But hold out - there's plenty of good camping closer to the main attraction. You'll know you've reached the hotspring when the trail crosses a maze of warm streams descending the canyon wall. If the most obvious camping spots are taken, keep walking - there are more just across the creek.

After enjoying your soak and spending a blissful night under the sycamores - begin back the way you came. When you reach the conflunce of Little Bear and the Middle Fork, keep to the main stream course and follow it back to the visitor center. The trail will cross the river many, many more times as the canyon opens up and the walls soften to rounded hills. About 7 miles from Jordan is Gila Hot Springs. This spring is very hot - it comes out of the ground at around 130 degrees - so be careful. Bathers frequently dig pools in the main watercourse to mix the spring water with the cooler river water - but these pools are typically very shallow and muddy, and there is no vegetation around the spring. After Jordan, it seems like a nasty, unappealing spot that we usually just admire from afoot.

About a mile further down the trail, there is a roadbed heading up a hill on the left riverbank (as you face downstream). Follow this road up to the visitor center parking area. If you didn't leave a car here, it's another mile along the paved roads to the TJ Corral.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2008-09-30 writelots
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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
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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I finally made it to the Gila Wilderness. I kept my first hike pretty standard with a trip to the Jordan Hot Springs. I drove from Phoenix on Friday night, however, due to some last minute planning and packing I did not leave the valley until after seven, but nevertheless I made it in around 1:30 a.m. Arizona time, 2:30 a.m. New Mexico time. The road in is not very fun to drive for the first time at night, but I did see a mountain lion crossing the road, so that was cool. That makes three sighting this year, all crossing roads and all out east, Primitive Blue Range in the spring and now the Gila. Maybe they are a little plentiful out there, does seem to be a lot of deer.

I slept in a little at the Grapevine Campground and then made my way up the road to the area around the Gila Cliff Dwelling monument and the TJ Corral trailhead. Set off with the pups for Jordan spring at 9:22 a.m. The first couple miles of this hike leave you wondering if the six hour drive from Phoenix was worth it and are a tad mundane, unless you like Juniper. However, once you hit the narrows of Little Bear Canyon those thoughts are gone. That section was very pleasant, with the trickling water, fall colors and dramatic walls. The Middle Fork portion did not disappoint ether, although some might find the water a little chilly this time of year. The scenery was very dramatic through there with some towering walls and stunning rock formations along the nicely flowing Middle Fork of the Gila River. The springs were also very nice, with a nearly perfect setting under the trees. There were two other people at the campsite above when I was there, but I had the spring and clear pool to myself. I took a long break, soaked in the spring and then headed back. I probably passed twenty backpackers headed to the spring area on the way out. I chose an out and back for my return and was at the TJ Corral around 4 p.m. The final stretch into the trailhead got pretty warm and I know the dogs were happy to be done with it.
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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Jordan Hot Springs Loop
After my adventures in India, I thought I'd be in such fantastic shape that I should hit the trail right away. I also thought I'd be happy to lead a largish group of backpackers back to one of my favorite camping spots. Right on first count, wrong on second. While the trip was overall a tremendous success, I was NOT ready to be trip leader again. I got grumpy - like "you can all go and throw pumpkins at each other and die for all I care" grumpy.

But, as I often do, I have gotten ahead of myself.

I tried to go back in my memory to figure out how many times I've done the hike to Jordan Hot Springs and back. While the different trips with different groups all tend to blur in my head, I know it has to be around 8 trips. I'd gone almost every year since 2003 - missed a couple, went twice at least once. Heck - I even did the write up for it here on HAZ. You'll understand why I'm explaining this in a minute.

As Tibber explained in her trip report (excellent work trail sister), fires and floods have dramatically changed this canyon. Although I was prepared for the trail to be impacted, I really did not understand the extent to which it could have been altered. I've been in many riparian areas pre-and-post flood, but I've never witnessed with this kind of intimacy the power of a massive debris flood. Where there was once a soft path trail over a rolling grass meadow bordered by pines and sycamores there is now a bed of baby-head boulders, gravel and some twigs. Where the stream once flowed in the confines of a riparian forest, there is now a wide, naked streamcourse. And, where there was once a canyon bottom dense with huge, towering cottonwoods there is now a wide open chasm with stunning views of the sheer cliffs and massive boulders.

Ah - I've decided that I can't rant about this trip. It was beautiful. The weather was ideal. I got to hike with my trail sister Angela, swim in a deep cold pool and soak in a warm spring. No matter what else happened with stupid hikers and stubborn pumpkins, it was a great weekend to be alive and on the trail. And isn't that what it's all about, anyway?

The down side of the whole trip is that I'm taking a long leave of absence from leading backpacking trips. I guess you could say I'm burnt out (and yes, I know burned is the proper word, but burnt says so much more). Six years of volunteering to lead strangers into the wilds and shouldering the responsibility for their welfare in the wilds has turned me into a grumpy girl...and you just can't throw a Wendy when you're frowning.
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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Jordan Hot Springs Loop
This was so not what I expected. Once to the river, the trail is here and there and the narrow channels of river are now pushed to the sides from the new beds of rock that have eaten up the land that once housed trees and such. UNBELIEVABLE!!! :o

We drove up Friday nite. It's a pretty drive as you come out of Tucson for most of the way. We were treated to storms in the distance and a rainbow as we got closer to Lordsburg. Our intent was to have dinner at Jalisco's in Silver City around 8 but we forgot about the time change :doh: so Wendy called ahead to Jalisco's which closes at 9. In fact, it seems most of the locally owned restaurants close around 7:30. So we were out of luck.

Wendy found an El Charro in Lordsburg so she called all of the other people behind us and we met up there instead. But it's not like THE El Charro however I think the food was fine. After a short celebration for Sarae's birthday we made the long winding drive to the Upper Scorpion Campground arriving around 10:30 I think.

The next morning we were up and ready to go at 7 AZ time. Some folks were going to the Ruins only to find out they didn't open until 8 AZ time so we shuttled a couple vehicles and mounted up our backpacks and headed up the hill from TJ Corral TH. I would discover a little while later that I forgot my lunches and gatorade in the cooler but Wendy and Sarae said we could make due with the food they had (thank you girls!).

The 2 1/2 miles up the hill really isn't too bad but it was a tad warm. The group hiked pretty fast and as usual, I was at the back with Wendy pulling me a long. I enjoyed the scenery more this time as I'm just a tad better hiker than I was in 2011. However, I am still having trouble with my pack tugging on my shoulders :cry: . I used to carry my tent on the outside bottom of my pack but the last couple times I've been carrying it inside the pack. However, it seems just a bit too much for my shoulders (my rhomboids). Eventually that would work out okay as I adjusted the pack putting the waist band at my waist rather than below. I would struggle the following day with sore rhomboids but I think where I put the waist band is the issue.

Anyway, once you hit the pass, we checked out the view and then headed down into Little Bear Canyon. It is so very narrow which makes it so intriguing and fun to hike. The light was different from 2011 so I filmed a lot. The 2011 video of this part to JHS has a lot of hits on youtube so I wanted to film an update with the newer camera. This time there were some nice flowers along the way too and the Canyon started to get water in it at about the same place as 2011.

And before you knew it we were at the intersection with the Middle Fork. And here is where the surprise started :o . The flooding residual was more than apparent as it overwhelmed even this spot. Where before you could walk right across the river, now you had to go up the river a bit and then cross.

From what reading I've done on the internet about 60% of the trail is gone. Going down the Middle Fork I would say at least 80% is gone. The NWS said 5-8 feet water rise Sept 2013.
According to the alert, a 5 foot wall of water full of debris was tracked heading down the middle fork of the Gila River.
Per an entry I saw from a blog:
I met a man who worked for the Forest Service, who said he had just airlifted five people from the Middle Fork of the Gila. He saw the river below – 15 to 20 acres of fallen trees just drifting down the river, taking down more trees as they went. Each tree that was taken down by the debris was instantly stripped of bark. The cottonwoods in the river valley were devastated.

Little did we know we would spend a good part of the rest of this hike to JHS hiking over large debris fields to cross the river rather than walking down to the narrow river channels and wading to the other side. Huge trees were uprooted and splayed across the broad washes of dry silt. The riverbed had extended to nearly the entire canyon floor, wiping out previously grassy sections. We were in awe! and so much sand, what a pain. It would be even worse once we headed down the river from the intersection the next day.

We eventually, with a little route finding here and there, made our way to the JHS and to our camp across the river (8.5 miles or so around 11:30 AZ time). It was warm and it was a bit harder hiking : rambo : than we had anticipated so we were glad to get to camp. After eating some lunch, I decided to give my Sawyer Squeeze a try. Well that darn bag won't fill with water or I'm clueless how to do it. Fortunately I had watched some video where a person suggested using a baggie to gather the water and then put it in the Sawyer bag for filtering. I was impressed with the quick filtering and of course it weighs nothing but having to transfer water is a bit of a pain. I also saw you can cut off the top of a plastic bottle to fill with water to transfer to the bag.

Then it was time to get the swim suit on and join Wendy at the pool in the Gila. Well it was darn cold and took me awhile to submerge over to the rock bench on the side. And then, yep it was time for exfoliation of my brilliantly white legs by the little fishies 8-[ . As long as they were little fishies it would be okay. It got a bit nippy with the wind gusts coming and going so I soon decided enough of that and went back to my tent to put my legs up on a rock and take a quick :zzz: .

After a snack of smoked cheese and crackers, next on the agenda was the trip up to the JHS for some soaking in such a pretty, warm and clear pool of water. The whole group of us (13) eventually were in the pool and there was plenty of room. Had a little sip of some cinnamon whiskey and then headed back to camp to prepare for a Pad Thai dinner and butterscotch shots in roasted marshmallows. The marshmallow thing was an idea Wendy shared on FB tho it was with kahlua. It turned out pretty good but it was hard to master the hole in the middle for the shot as it would leak through sometimes.

We all went to bed at hiker's midnite as we would need to make an early start to avoid the heat of the day for our longer hike out. We made pretty quick time back to the intersection in an hour 1/2 (it took us 2 hours the previous day). There were a few people gathered here; we stopped for only a moment before heading on down the river curious to see what it would have in store for us. And yes more of the same but even less trail. Some of the fallen trees were even larger on this side :o .

Once again we spent lots of time walking on the wide path covered in uncomfortable rocks. This would get annoying after several miles :bdh: especially when a rock would get caught in my boot. I didn't want to ask the group to wait while I got the rocks out so I would do the best to wiggle the rock into a comfortable spot until our next break. The group was already a little annoyed that on occasion Wendy would have them wait for a moment while I came back into site. When you constantly have to look where you're walking, I like to stop for just a moment to take in the scenery :) .

We finally took a short lunch break up against some rocks that provided some shade and water. I was glad so I could clean out my boots. Plus I like that little break just before the end of a hike as it makes those last few miles seem less arduous. I think we had about 3 miles to go yet and this was only our second break since we started in the morning. We started again and on occasion got to walk where the old trail was though it was covered in sand. I discovered that those large mud cracks soon dissolve into sand. The sand was hot AND annoying after awhile.

Our next stop was Middle Fork Hot Springs and the wind tunnel fired up big time. Couldn't keep my hat on so took it off. The group enjoyed this last spring for a few moments. We took off again only to encounter waist high weeds and future blooming flora (including sunflowers and prickly poppies) scratching against our legs for about 1/4 mile. And then one last river crossing toward the road ahead that takes you up to the Visitors Center. We did get some filtered light for this short climb up to the parking lot. I grabbed my last picture and said "adieu" to the Gila Middle Fork.

I would like to come back in a few years to see what Mother Nature has done with with the place.

Comparing 2011 with this year, the difference is remarkable. It was interesting to watch the video from 2011 vs what we hiked this year.

TJ Corral into Little Bear Canyon:­­

Middle Fork to Jordan Hot Springs:­­

Jordan Hot Springs to Visitors Center:­­­

2011 Middle Fork to Jordan Hot Springs­
2011 Jordan Hot Springs to VC­
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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Drove through some heavy monsoon rains and started out the next morning on Little Bear #729. We quickly, but easily, get on top of the mesa, pass the trail intersection 2 miles in, and head down Little Bear canyon. LBC had a trickling flow after about halfway and was quite pleasant. We arrived at the junction with Middle Fork at a nice campsite and waited for the rest of our group to catch up.

After regrouping, we headed up the Middle Fork trail, which is fantastic at this time of year with many creek crossings. The terrain is mostly ponderosa pine on wide flat floodplains, punctuated by getting your feet and calves wet crossing every few hundred yards. Yellow coneflower lines the banks of the river.

We reach and enjoyed Jordan Hot Springs, being careful to avoid submerging our heads due to the amoeba that causes meningitis. From there we packed further upriver into the Meadows, where the thunder and rain finally caught up with us as we endured a downpour setting up our tents.

The next morning we packed up the Big Bear Trail, to the Prior Canyon trail, running into some first response firefighters returning from their dispatch of working on a tree set ablaze by lightning. We then saw a mamma black bear with two cubs, which we gave a wide berth. We reach the cabin before noon. Prior Cabin is intact and nice, but locked up tight. We continued up Prior Creek trail to the seldom traveled Lilley Park trail, which we took to Hells Hole Trail and dropped down into West Fork.

Surprisingly, unlike the Middle Fork, which was clear, West Fork of the Gila River was mud soup, the look of chocolate cocoa. It appeared to have flash flooded very recently. It was also icy cold, perhaps 50 degrees or less. Numbing almost instantly. As we made our way down the West Fork, we wondered what we would do for water, since the mud coming down West Fork looked unfilterable.

We spot a trickle of yesterdays storm coming down a crack in the wall and some members decided to filter from it. I didn't like the look of it and continued downstream, crossing the river and finding another trickle I liked better that I could filter.

As I unpacked my water filter and began filtering, I hear the sound of the river suddenly increase, as the river rapids seemed to suddenly intensify. I look at the river and notice it rose 3 inches in seconds. I realize some type of flash flood is about to happen. I look at my pack which is 3 ft above the water line and conclude it is OK for now. 30 seconds later the river has already risen another ft and I no longer like the position of my pack. As I scramble down to grab it the river comes up another foot. I grab my pack and within another 40 seconds, the spot it was sitting on is already underwater. At that point, trees, logs, and a torrent of debris come flying down the river. With my pack I scramble higher, content that I can survive as I can continue higher up my little cleft in the cliff face.

I then worry about the rest of my group, which were at the other trickle in a far more exposed spot along the river. I decide to wait at least 5 minutes, as the river has risen another 2 ft since I grabbed my pack and I don't know how much higher it will get. I don't want to leave my spot as I can climb another 10 ft up easily. After awhile I notice the amount of logs is less and the river isn't getting higher, though it isn't getting lower either. I pack up my filtering gear and decide if I can get to a better spot, as I will be trapped in this bend of the canyon for awhile and my current position isn't that comfortable.

I find that I can break off branches of a tree, bypass the underwater section of trail, and get back onto the portion of the trail which is still higher than the river by a few feet. I make my way back to the last river crossing and hail my group. Some miscommunication occurs, as I think they are all OK, but what I realize a half hour later is one of our group is trapped on the wrong side of the river against the cliff face. I can see he has found an uncomfortable spot to sit and begin to worry.

We track the river. Within 30 minutes it drops a ft. After another hour, another 6 inches. In the next hour it only drops an inch of two. By this time it is getting late. I set up my tent and sleeping bag to warm up in the event that swimming may be necessary to retrieve our trapped member. I ford the river and find the flow is low enough that crossing is possible, though difficult. The water is even colder now, if that is possible. I encourage the rest of our group to help get our member off the cliff face, before it gets dark. I wait at the shallow part in the event he slips into the water and needs to be grabbed before being swept downriver.

Luckily at this point he can traverse on the side of the cliff upriver and cross without incident and everybody retires for the night.

The next morning we set out early as the weather forecast is the same, and the river appears to have flashed 2 days in a row, and may do so a third time. We head down and cross the muddy river, back to normal levels, many times. We observe some nice ruins and redirect some lost backpackers. All too soon our trip is done and we arrive at the National Monument trailhead.
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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Friday afternoon after picking up a passenger in Tempe, picking up Wendy and Lilo, exchanging a passenger at Sarae's, getting some last minute groceries AND after driving the frontage road to get ahead of a traffic jam on the I-10 we finally got away from Tucson after 2:30ish. Once we got past Willcox, it was all new territory for me :) .
We made it to Silver City, walked the dog above the Big Ditch 8) , had a leisurely dinner at Jalisco's, filled Tonto with fuel and then headed on the very tight and windy road to the Scorpion Campground in the Gila Wilderness where we set up our tents in the dark and cold of night.
In spite of all the warm stuff I had brot, surprisingly it was a chilly nite in the tent for me. I don't think my sleeping bag is living up to the +20 degree rating at all (it only got down to the low 30s); it's VERY frustrating when you spend nearly $200 for something that doesn't work right; surely I can't sleep THAT cold.

The next morning we gathered everything up and after a short discussion a few of us hiked to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. It seemed like we raced through them. Ruins take time to see, feel and absorb :M2C: but apparently the rest of the folks didn't feel that way. But I guess we really did need to keep moving it along since we still had the main hike ahead of us that involved a couple miles of an uphill climb.

We shuttled the vehicles and finally hit the trail at 9:30ish. The first of the uphill seemed to go pretty fast until you get slightly past the meadow area where you slog it out on a gradual ascent for a couple miles before reaching the Pass at 2.5 miles. I was glad for the slightly overcast skies. The rest of the group took out like they were running from something (me?) :lol: but Wendy and Lilo hung back. I was hardly taking any pictures either.

After a short break at the Pass we headed down into Little Bear Canyon which was fasinating right off the bat. This is a nice little canyon that's fun to enjoy at a slower pace cuz there's a lot to see. I guess other folks see things faster than me ;) cuz once again I ended up at the back and was the last to arrive at the junction with the Middle Fork (about 4.5 miles from the TJ Corral TH). Here we enjoyed a leisurely lunch. This was nice so at least we got to soak in the view before heading up the stick of this lollipop route to Jordan Hot Springs.

Once again, everyone took off and Wendy, Lilo and I meandered along the trail being awestruck by the TALL canyon walls and admiring the trees and change of scenery :DANCE: as we made the 15 water crossings. In one area we heard this screeching as it echoed down to us. Wendy looked up and spotted a hawk going toward its nest. I didn't get to see this :( . She used my camera to try and zoom in on their location (sad to say I still can't see the nesting area in the photo; hopefully Wendy can).

We continued on and eventually reached the springs where folks were already enjoying the warm water. They directed us back to where the camp was, we changed, joined them in the spring, went back to camp, had an incredible fajiata dinner :y: that we cooked with many stoves due to the fire ban and then after some Irish drinking songs [-( retired to our tents at hiker's bedtime. I was using a new sleeping pad with an R-factor of 4. Along with being at a lower elevation than the night before, I was plenty warm :zzz: .

The next morning I woke with a headache :sk: left over from the nite before and in short order it became a migraine. After breakfast I popped an Immitrex, gathered my stuff and asked if I could hike ahead to the junction so I could get a jump on the day and be able to enjoy the trail and take pictures :gun: . You know how it is, when it's time to hike out, it's like horses back to the barn and I knew with this group, I wouldn't stand a chance in keeping up if I wanted to take very many pictures. However, I did have the keys to the shuttle vehicle so they couldn't totally abandon me :D .

I took off around 9:05. I enjoyed my solitary time walking to the junction even tho I spooked myself a couple times. I have a very vivid imagination and can be quite the scaredy cat so it didn't take much to get my heart to pumping a couple times :lol: . It was an absolutely beautiful morning. Even with the pics and movies I took, I kept a good pace at 2.3MPH and arrived 2.85 miles later at the junction around 10:15AM just as two of the hikers showed up behind me. The rest of the folks came along very shortly. We had a quick lunch here before we started on new territory down the Middle Fork.

I was still bound and determined to take a photo at each creek crossing as I had done the previous day from the Junction to JHS. This hike back to the Visitor's Center TH is quite fascinating as well. There's lots of changes in topography. Your feet never get tired because the constant creek crossings provide instant relief :) . A couple of the girls hung back with us for about 15 minutes but then as usual, Wendy, Lilo & I were alone again. There are some meadows, caves, and cool trees along the route. We got to see old and fresh beaver-cut trees. In one area, just as you think you might be done with your river crossings as you head up and over a hill, there's the water again.

We did run into quite a few folks at a junction and then we encountered the rest of our group at the Gila Hot Springs. From there it was like we were sucked into a wind tunnel as the canyon walls were no longer there to protect us. It was quite something. But even along here, the topography had a lot to offer. I know it's been a good day when I really didn't feel my backpack toward the end; plus today I had re-tied my boots in the morning and they fit much better :) . I was pleased.

We arrived at the TH around 2, shuttled vehicles, found some good deals in the 15% off "free entry parks day" Visitors Center and then headed to Silver City. We stopped at the Overlook to take in the Gila Wilderness and after a jaunt thru Pinos Altos looking for a lunch spot to no avail, we ate at Isaacs in Silver City. The food and service were great. Once again in Tucson I did some passenger exchanges and finally arrived back home at 11:30. (FYI - it was a windy drive most of the way)

:thanx: to Sarae for putting together the trip and thanks again to my mentor Wendy for being in the mood for a leisurely hike after your Royal Arch adventure.

The Ruins:
Hike to JHS:
Hike back to Middle Fork:
Hike from Middle Fork to Visitors Center TH (and if you like Jethro Tull, you should enjoy this):
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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Made it back to Jordan Hot Springs for the 4th time. It has so many of the elements that make a trip fun for me-- I just can't stay away. Plus, it was my first backpacking trip ever, so it's nice to go back and marvel that I ever thought this was a difficult hike :D

I lead this trip for ABC and we had 9 people join us. Good friends Wendy, Tiffani, and Angela were among the happy backpackers. We had fabulous weather the whole time, with clouds sheltering us from the sun on the exposed uphill and a bright blue sky on the hike out. There was a bit of wind, but I think we were considering it free microderm abrasion :sl:

Also, we found out that a campfire ban had gone into effect starting April 18th, so that was a bit of a disappointment, but not something that couldn't easily be managed without. All the better to gaze at the stars! And they are great here! Apparently there was very little precip this winter, and you could definitely tell that everything was dry. The river was lower than I have ever seen it, too. We were told that there had been a fire in The Meadows, about 6 miles away from Jordan, that had just been put out last week... started by a campfire... boo!

We drove over to Silver City on Friday afternoon and had dinner at Jalisco Cafe before finishing the winding drive to the Scorpion Campgrounds. Got to camp and wedged ourselves in between all of the other campers who had spread themselves across the sites. Saturday morning, we made a quick stop at the Gila Cliff Dwellings (free admission thanks to National Parks Week!), dropped off a vehicle at the Visitor Center, and then started hiking from TJ Corral. The uphill was a breeze with the cloud cover! Then we were heading down into Little Bear Canyon where we soon found a trickle of water and steep canyon walls. We had lunch at the junction with the Middle Fork of the Gila, took some silly group shots, and then continued on to Jordan Hot Springs. I always look forward to all of the water crossings on this trip, about 14 to the springs from the junction and at least 20 more on the way out.

We had notice that there were quite a few people on the trail, but once we got to the Springs, we saw that there were plenty of campsites. We chose a spot just across the river from the hot spring, set up camp, and then had a nice long soak. A couple of groups of people joined us as we enjoyed the water, and we had fun chatting with our fellow backpackers. Once we were sufficiently prune-like, we headed back to camp to start thinking about dinner... chicken/veggie fajitas. Yum! It was a bit of an adventure to get everything cooked up without a campfire, but we made do, and soon had wonderfully stuffed bellies. The margaritas and mango tango helped, too :y:

It was a very peaceful night, with the stars in fine form overhead. We woke bright and early, some of the group enjoyed the hot spring again. Once breakfast was taken care of, we packed up and started the "hike of many crossings" that would eventually lead us back to the visitor center and our waiting vehicles. We cleaned up and then packed into the cars for the ride back to Silver City, where we enjoyed a post-hike meal at Issac's.

Another thoroughly enjoyable trip under our belts.

Side note... I've decided that I need to do a longer trip into the Gila soonish. I need more time off! Where is the vacation time tree?
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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After checking out the Gila cliff dwellings we headed to the TJ corral TH where I had to make a mad scramble through my pack and make sure I didn't forget anything. Yup we're good to go, so threw the pack on the back and off we hiked eagerly anticipating the amazing scenery we were about to witness. Some uphill on the way towards the canyon, enough to get me huffin and let me know I was alive and kickin! As soon as the trail descends down into the canyon is where I was just totally amazed and could not stop staring up at the canyon walls. I could have spent hours just walking through there and taking pictures and climbing some walls to check stuff out, but I was with a group and they were very eager to get to the hot springs. Once we reached the middle fork we took a lunch break and then changed into sandals with neoprene socks for the rest of the hike to the hot springs as there are about 15 river crossings. We reached the hot springs somewhere around 3pm and I was a little bummed to find out there was already a camp there but we hiked up to the hot springs and there was not a soul in sight. We went 1 crossing up from the hot springs and immediately went to dropping the packs and quickly setting up my tent and sleeping pad and bag. Once that was done, off the the hot springs to soak and stayed for about an hour. Went back to camp and collected some fire wood, had some drink, and then cooked me up a tasty meal of a spam single and cup of noodle chicken flavor washed down with a couple of fiber 1 bars. Headed back up to hot springs to soak again a little after dark.

Had another restless nights sleep due to being cold and just being a crappy sleeper in general. Got up around 7am and immediately headed to the hot spring to enjoy a nice warm soak mesmerized by the steam rising off the warm water, soaked for about an hour and then headed back to camp to break stuff down and pack up and head out.

On the way through Silver City we attempted to stop at a couple of places to eat and we had bad luck, either they were all closed and 1 place told us they just sat of bunch of ppl and didn't have room for our party of 8. So we ate at some truck stop subway in Lordsburg.
Jordan Hot Springs - Gila
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I tell ya - life is good. This trip is like extra whipped cream on your pumpkin pie - it just makes it that much more perfect!

Friday night we drove out to camp near the cliff dwellings. You know how you forget something on every trip? Like your headlamp or spare socks or a hat? Well...this time I forgot the bag that had all of my clothing! :o Time for a quick change in plans! We camped instead at the McMillan CG, closer to Silver City. Early in the AM, I got up and drove in to the 24hr super Wallyworld and did the best I could to gear up. I got some jems, let me tell you (including a jacket that could double as a stuffed animal!)

So, Saturday morning, we hit the trail, me disguised as a technicolor hobo, but eager for trail time! The hike up to the saddle was very warm, and we got a good sweat going. We started to wonder if a hot spring was going to be all that appealing! However, once we descended into shady Little Bear Canyon, the day got down right perfect. All the way to the campsite it was oohs and aaahs at the amazing fall colors and blooming bunch grasses. I think even Lilo the trail dog was impressed.

We saw no one at all on the hike in, and when we arrived at the hot springs camp area, we found it quiet, clean and deserted. Fall leaves made a beautiful blanket over everything, and the afternoon sun lit the place like a cathedral. I hung my hammock over a small warm spring, thinking to steal a little extra warmth from momma nature... Then, we all went and got in the fantastic hot tub for some awesome soaking action.

The night was just brisk and not cold - enjoyed a sensible campfire. Just before dark, another party arrived to camp nearby and enjoy the springs, but that was the only company we had for the entire trip - which in this popular location is unusual. Their little tiny dogs had to be carried across each of the 15 river crossings on the way to the springs. That takes some dedication, I tell you.

Hike out was equally fantastic. Counted a total of 45 river crossings on the way back to the visitor center. About 3 miles from the end, a storm began to brew at the head of the canyon and hurried our feet with it's constant rumbling and grumbling (one of my companions had been struck by lightning only 3 weeks before). By the time we got to the parking area, however, it fizzled into nothing. The storms and systems blowing about in the area gave us a heck of a show on the ride home - complete with lightning and towering thunderheads lit by the sunset.

And people ask my why I do this every other weekend. If only they knew!

Permit $$

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To hike
Drive to Lordsburg, NM on Interstate Hwy 10. Turn north on NM Hwy 90 and drive to Silver City, 45 miles to the northeast. Follo NM Hwy 15 to Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument - the 43 miles of twisting mountain roads will take about 90 minutes to drive. Follow signs to the campgrounds, parking at the TJ Corral. There are horse facilities here. Camping nearby is free and quite nice.
page created by writelots on Sep 30 2008 8:32 am
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