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The Best Hikes in Southwest

316 Triplog Reviews in the Southwest
Most recent of 118 deeper Triplog Reviews
17.18 mi • 3,986 ft aeg
 Led an overnight backpacking trip along the Mogollon Creek Trail with a group of 12.

The road in was fairly smooth, though one truck did inexplicably get a flat tire. There was no water flowing at the creek crossing a mile or two short of the trailhead. I wouldn't necessarily recommend it, but you could probably get a sedan to the trailhead. The road was completely fine for anything with high clearance. It should be noted that the official HAZ_Hikebot GPX track does not start at the trailhead and may not be accurate. I am not sure if there is a trail that matches the HAZ_Hikebot track.

Only 26 people had signed in at the trail register since the beginning of the year. Clearly the trail doesn't get much use. The first six miles of trail are largely uphill. This section of the trail was is in surprisingly good condition and shows evidence of recent trail maintenance. Due to the aforementioned flat tire issue, we got a later start than planned. While the temperatures were only in the 80s F, it was definitely hot and exposed. Near the top, there was a nice patch of woods that you could potentially camp in if you were willing to dry camp. Once you crest over the top, you pass through some burned areas and the condition of the trail declines. There are some downed trees to navigate, but nothing posed too much of an issue. The views from this side as you drop down toward Mogollon Creek are great. It's about a 2 mile decent down to the creek. The area along the creek is a bit overgrown. We lost the trail for a bit after reaching the creek, though we were able to follow it for the return trip. The views and scenery once you start dropping into the canyon are great. We camped for the night among the trees near the junction with Teepee Canyon.

Prior to the trip, I had called the Glenwood Ranger Station and the Gila National Monument to inquire about water availability. The rangers I talked to had no idea if the Mogollon Creek would be reliably flowing. I knew that the creek had an endemic Gila Trout population and had been restocked by the forest service, so I assumed it couldn't possibly entirely dry up. That turned out to be correct. It was flowing and there were pools of nice clear water along the section we hiked. There were some small fish that I assume were Gila Trout in the pools.

In the morning we got an early start to beat the heat and hiked out the way we came and back to the cars. Just north of Cliff, that same truck had yet another tire blow out. That resulted in an 8 hour ordeal involving two tow truck companies shuttling it across the state border to Safford where the nearest compatible tires (available on a Sunday) were found.

Overall it was a good trip. If I were to do it again, I would go earlier in the season. I would also try to make it a three day trip to allow for further exploration up canyon. The best scenery occurs after you crest over the top and start dropping into the canyon. I would have liked to have had more time to enjoy it.
4.75 mi • 1,733 ft aeg
 Second trip to Silver City in three weeks. Last time I had hoped to get some hiking in, but it was windy, chilly and threatening rain, so just hung around town. This time things were fine, so I wanted to do this hike again (last in 2009). Seemed harder and longer, but I am older, out of condition, and not motivated anymore. Nevertheless, it was fun. The first thing I wanted to do is see if the flamingos were still at the lookout. When I made it to the peak they were nowhere to be seen. The tower was manned, and after awhile the fellow invited me up. Of course, the first thing I asked him was, " What happened to the flamingos?" He said, "Don't worry, they will be back." We had thought their presence there was due to a woman's touch, but that turns out not to be so. One of the male lookouts assigned there is responsible for them (as well as the flower boxes that are hung on the railing of the ladder steps to the cab. That fellow was not on duty, and when he is away he takes those with him. Why? Turns out the some of his fellow Forest Service workers don't like them, so he takes them with him for safe keeping. :lol: Indeed, the fellow on duty said that if he put them in the storage shed up there, he would burn them :o Anyway, we had a nice long conversation, and I asked him if Philip Conners was still a lookout over at Hillsboro Peak, and he said yes. (I picked up Philip's latest book, "All the Wrong Places" at Gila Hike and Bike in Silver City last trip).

I thanked him for inviting me up, then made my way back down the mountain. On my way back to town I passed through Pinos Altos and saw that the well known Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House was open and stopped in for a beer and look around. I had not been in there in about 20 years, so that was fun. :D
8.65 mi • 2,875 ft aeg
 I drove all the way out to White Sands and changed my plans when the line of cars backed up to the highway. That and the bus loads of kids with saucer sleds running around the visitors center. So with the remaining daylight, I wanted to hike Baylor Peak. I went up the West side, which reminded me of Bell Pass, for the first 3.5 miles. Then it was up another 1300ft in just .8 miles on a faint path to the peak. I reached the top just before sundown and hurried back to the main trail with fleeting light. I'm really glad I went for it and didn't turn around at the saddle. This was a great day hike and fairly challenging.
47.2 mi • 0 ft aeg
 Almost the same as the official route, but took a slight detour between Hell's Hole and The Meadows. What a great hike! Almost as good as Aravaipa. I lucked out with the weather, 70 during the day, 25-30 at night. I want to do it again, this time counter-clockwise so I can camp at the Meadows before doing the climb over towards the West Fork.

I did make a Youtube video guide to this hike: [ youtube video ]

Sycamores were near peak color
5.9 mi • 2,300 ft aeg
 Bit of an odd day, but good! Started out with the slower hikers... Yubao headed out with the faster hikers. Our group of nine dropped to eight with one turned back with at the challenging lower tilted ledges. We enjoyed an easy pace, soaking in the moments of towering cliffs. Dendretic rock... tree canopy... big bouldering. Very nice.

For once, I convinced some of the hikers to stay far left, avoiding the dirt trail up to the saddle. They enjoyed an all climbing rock ascent! I always have to lead the slower hikers up the overly steep trail; have never been able to check out the far left all the way to the top. Turns out it is good! Next time, I'll take everyone up that route.

Checked out a new descent from the saddle: far right chute. It is the best of the four routes! Descended the west side ridge above the mine... I enjoyed it... everyone else... not so much?

A variety of falls and tumbles did some minor damage... but all in all... good. Five hours of hiking... Seven hours total. Fast group was back in four hours! Too fast!

We intend to check out a spur canyon and a possible steep exit on our next outing up... few months away? Also spotted an interesting route up out of Big Ice...

First hike wherein I did not take pictures, save for a few shots at the lunchbreak up at the saddle.
13.23 mi • 1,532 ft aeg
 Someone had told me that White Rocks was a nice trail, so I decided for my second hike in the Gila the pups and I would start at the Middle Fork trailhead and then hike to White Rocks Tanks for a break, some water and then a return the way we came.

The hike started out very cold. In fact, cold enough to freeze the pups water where we camped and I was definitely not in a hurry to put on my chacos and start crossing the Middle Fork of the Gila, but alas I made my first crossing just after 8. However, After about the second crossing my feet were starting to feel like I was seriously starting to get some frost bite, so I put my socks and shoes back on until the next crossing, as inefficient as that was. Eventually I thought the key to my frozen feet was a set of hot springs along the river's shore. Needless to say that was a very bad idea. A little PSA here, "frozen feet and hot springs don't mix." I seriously thought I did some damage to my feet for a few seconds, as that hot water sent some pretty nasty tingling pain through my feet for a few minutes and only calmed down after I was able to rub them some with the inside of my hoodie that I had take off.

Despite the cold start, I wish I would have just spent more time enjoying the Middle Fork Trail. The trail to the tanks had some decent views, but it was generally bland trail and offered few redeeming qualities The tanks were also bone dry, which put me and the pups in a little bind, as it was around a seven mile detour to get to them. I knew it was a gamble assuming there would be water, but the forest service had it listed as a desirable destination and from the map it looked like it would be a good contender for water and I thought from the tank's name, that there were going to be a couple of nice scenic natural tanks in the rock, or something like that, but nope just two bone dry dirt tanks from yesteryear. Basically, a seven mile detour for nothing overly scenic, when we could have been tramping along the scenic Middle Fork of the Gila River. Needless to say, the dogs were happy to reach the river again, where we did a little more exploring up the Middle Fork, before turning back for the trailhead.

After getting back to the trailhead, I decided to go check out the cliff dwellings and utilize their complimentary kennels for the dogs. The kennels unfortunately looked something like the POW "tiger cages' from Vietnam and I was not putting my pups in there, even for a short tour. Not to be deterred, we settled for a quick hike of the West Fork Trail, which shares a parking lot with the cliff dwellings. The forest service notes that the trail has recently been cleared four miles in, but we only went in about a half mile, or so and turned around, as the drive back to Phoenix was looming in my mind and Cup was beat.
14.82 mi • 1,856 ft aeg
 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.
9.98 mi • 2,053 ft aeg
 Trail was in very good shape. It is apparent that it has been logged and cleaned up after the 2013 Silver fire.
There were 4 or 5 dead falls to navigate around but nothing too difficult. The tread was in really good shape and not much erosion to speak of which surprised me. Typically burned trails tend to struggle with erosion, however the post fire vegetation has taken a good hold and stabilized the soil.

I really enjoyed the views from this trail. Good views of the Rio Grande Valley, the Chino Mine, as well as North and South down the Black Range. After navigating around Cross-o mountain I came out of the burned section. The remainder of the hike was in old growth comprised mostly of pine and ponderosa pine.
7.9 mi • 2,100 ft aeg
 Wow... after enjoying a couple hikes up Little Ice Canyon, I thought we'e found what might be the best little canyon in Southern New Mexico. Little did I know that the adjacent cut, Big Ice Canyon, would blow Little Ice away in many respects! More Scrambling, Bigger Scrambles. More water falls. More Bedrock. Exceptional Moments of Rock. And, given that there is not the ridgeline exit, the tendency will be to descend the way you came... doubling all the good stuff!

Maybe the pictures will begin to tell the story. I need to return for a longer, bigger hit. Effectively, Big Ice is used as the approach to Baldy Peak. Today I was leading a couple of hikers (Jason and Luster) checking out whether they might enjoy that hike with an upcoming group. They seemed to enjoy the cut, as did Josephine (may have been her biggest canyon effort to date?)

Demanding and fun routing... scenic beyond measure. Like Little Ice, if someone lives in the Cruces area... hike twice monthly! If you live 12 hours away... worth the drive over. Everyone drives over to hike Organ Needle... great for Peak Baggers... but if you want canyon joy... get cold... do the Ice.
1 mi • 180 ft aeg
 Because of how the queen beds are smaller in hotel rooms, our family didn't get a very good night's sleep before we did this hike. Fortunately, that ended up with us getting a very early start to the day. This ended up with many benefits. First was the first shot at the extended contintental breakfast at the hotel, then low traffic on Route 15 in New Mexico on the way to the ruins, and seeing a whole lot of wildlife along that drive. Natasha counted 13 turkeys and 8 deer. It got to the point that we saw so many turkeys that not only did I not stop the car any more, I jokingly gunned the gas to try to run one over in the attempt of a turkey dinner that I nearly was successful at :o . I got yelled at.

We stopped at the visitor centor since we were there so early that we would have been at the trailhead before the 9am open time. Natasha got the booklet for the Junior Ranger program and I got my obligatory refridgerator magnet.

the ruins were very cool, as expected. I've been so to many now that it's becoming easier to spot where restoration was done. Since we were there early, we again had the advantage to spend more time with the volunteers and ask things like where the hidden pictographs are. The corn cob room what pretty cool to see also. We spent some time at the museum by the trailhead after we were done checking out the stuff they have there.

Made our way down to Willcox and getting ready for our big hike of the weekend tomorrow at the Chiricauhua NM.

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