Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

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Linked Guide  • Thompson Trail #629, AZ
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Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by HikerDan73 » Jul 24 2019 4:28 pm

Hi, I am new to HikeAZ, I am very impressed, been on (eh hem, All Trails or Fail Trails as some call it, for faaaarrr toooo long) I have hiked quite a bit, but this will be my first overnight backpacking adventure, so bear with me! Will there be some good spots at the end (or near the end) of Thompson Trail near where it connects to West Fork Trail to set up a dispersed camping spot. Does anyone have any coordinates of past camping areas that they think would be good? I am sure I will spot a few good spots, but it's good to know that you have a general idea where a good spot may be. Also, I will bring bear spray, but should I expect the chance of a bear run-in in this area? What advice can you provide good or bad that I may experience in this area, thanks in advance!

Last edited by HikerDan73 on Jul 24 2019 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by chumley » Jul 24 2019 6:07 pm


Hi Dan. :welcome:

Thompson is a great trail through a scenic meadow/valley. You should know however that the 2011 Wallow Fire impacted the hills surrounding this area quite severely. It doesn't take too much away from the hike, but venturing too far up away from the river will put you into some severe fire scar.

The junction of West Fork and Thompson is called Deadman Crossing. This is a very nice area to camp and you will likely find a fire ring or two from previous visitors. But it is a "dispersed" camping area, so there are no formal sites established. If you don't find a previously used site, there is plenty of flat, grassy area to set up a tent, and even small thickets of trees for hammock camping.

On the weekend you'll likely have plenty of hikers come through. Many make Deadman Crossing the turn-around point for the Thompson Trail hike because the West Fork trail was severely burned and continuing that way isn't nearly as popular as staying down along the river.

Black bears are plentiful in the White Mountains, but are generally not problematic and afraid of people. This is especially true away from campgrounds where they sometimes become accustomed to people. If you don't feel comfortable without bear spray, feel free to bring it along, but it's not something that most backpackers in Arizona carry. Just hang your food away from camp, keep food and scented items out of your tent, and also cook away from your tent, and you should be just fine.

As with any backpacking, if you have a fire, please make sure you extinguish it completely: drown it, stir it, and feel it so it is cold to the touch before you leave it unattended. Since you'll be near water, it's also good to know that you should camp away from the stream edge, and make sure to bury human waste at least 100 feet from the river. Don't do dishes or dispose of food in the river either :)

Good luck, and I hope you have a great overnight!
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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by te_wa » Jul 25 2019 4:47 pm

no greater thrill than landing a 12" smallie on a fly rod. use a 3wt with a hopper variety. or floating, jointed minnow. or just about anything that moves. browns and rainbows in there, too. take rain gear.

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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by DmN » Sep 27 2019 2:10 pm

Rather than make a new post, I am also new to HAZ and plan to visit the Thompson Trail on the 18th of October for a quick overnight-er. Taking a friend whose never been backpacking before and we're hoping to do some fishing. Does anyone have any recommended fishing spots near/around the Deadman's Crossing area? Also, never hiked Thompson Before, really have only explored the Baldy Wilderness. I am familiar with the black river and this area seemed decent for a beginner. According to forest there are areas which prohibit fishing but it was not indicated which areas are closed to this recreation.

Thanks in advance for any tips/advice.
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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by joebartels » Sep 27 2019 8:07 pm

checking [ Deep Search Results ]
long ago, mentioned in 2007, perhaps the Apache trout restoration project is a/the prohibited area

might be as mentioned in the second paragraph of the guide
[ Thompson Trail #629 ]
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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by azbackpackr » Sep 28 2019 10:51 am

If it snows they may close the road. Call ahead.
Be prepared for nights in the 20's. You could luck out and hit a warm spell, but night will be chilly.
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Re: Backpacking Thompson Trail/Black River area

Post by DmN » Sep 29 2019 7:55 pm

Latest I have been into the white mountains has been the first or second week of October. Hoping it's not going to see any snow this next month, but thanks for the tip.
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