GET Segment 18 overview
Along with Segment 19, this short segment offers a convenient link between the backcountry of Arizona's Blue Range and the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico. US 180 serves as a natural dividing line between these segments, and at 4900 feet is also the lowest point along the eastbound GET until the Rio Grande valley some 250 miles away. (Long-distance hikers heading westbound will commonly encounter lower elevations in Arizona.) The 2-lane highway offers access to the village of Alma, directly along our route, and also somewhat larger Glenwood a few miles to the south.
Sunflower Mesa is one of several broad, sloping plateaus that descend eastward from the Arizona border toward the valley of the San Francisco River near Alma. The landscape is quintessential New Mexico - wide open, with far-flung mountain vistas, and an austerity that invites contemplation. The GET in this segment follows graded Forest Service roads, offering easy walking and straightforward navigation. Besides the occasional rancher or hunter driving by, you're likely to have these roads to yourself. The mesa is prime range land, though most of the developed water sources are earthen stock ponds, unreliable, generally unpotable, and few are visible within range of the route anyhow. Plan to fill your bottles at the end of the segment, in Alma or perhaps from the river. The one ford of the San Francisco along FR 106 is across a generally modest creek, and in many years the river here runs dry by autumn.
A detailed, mile-by-mile description of this segment is available in the official GET guidebook. See www.GrandEnchantmentTrail.org
This segment of the GET forms part of a longer trip option between resupply locations, as described below:
GET Segments 15 - 18, Morenci to Alma & Glenwood
The jumbled ridges of Arizona's Blue Range unfold northward and the GET contours along their slopes, following foot trail flanked by live oak and manzanita, interspersed with shady conifers and secluded groves of maple alive with color in autumn. Views eastward extend to the Mogollon Mountains along our route in New Mexico, and to the nearer canyon system of the Blue River, toward which we now descend. Fording this small river in a remote setting, the wildness of the scene before us is truly written in the sands at creekside, where Merriam's turkey, black bear, and mountain lion leave telltale trace of their passage. Foot trail resumes en route toward prominent Maple Peak (8000'), from which a vantage of the Blue Range Primitive Area unfolds toward the Mogollon Rim. Descending to reach the Arizona/New Mexico boundary, the GET joins forest roads and heads east through classic New Mexican juniper-grassland toward the small ranching community of Alma, 4 miles north of more tourist-oriented Glenwood.
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.