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Meadows - Hells Hole Loop - 1 member in 2 triplogs has rated this an average 5 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Nov 10 2017

 Guides 1
 Routes 6
 Photos 10
 Triplogs 16

66 male
 Joined Dec 28 2009
 Oro Valley, AZ
Meadows - Hells Hole LoopSouthwest, NM
Southwest, NM
Backpack avatar Nov 10 2017
Backpack47.20 Miles
Backpack47.20 Miles2 Days   19 Hrs      
30 LBS Pack
no photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
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 ]
foliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observationfoliage observation
Autumn Foliage Observation None
Sycamores were near peak color
Youtube channel for gear testing:
Jul 07 2013

 Guides 93
 Routes 236
 Photos 2,001
 Triplogs 477

 Joined Nov 18 2005
 Phoenix, AZ
Meadows - Hells Hole LoopSouthwest, NM
Southwest, NM
Backpack avatar Jul 07 2013
Backpack36.50 Miles 1,800 AEG
Backpack36.50 Miles3 Days         
1,800 ft AEG32 LBS Pack
1st trip
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.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Extreme

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cliff Dweller Canyon Light flow Light flow
Nice clear flow

dry E E Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Jordan Canyon Light flow Light flow
Hot springs were flowing, beware the ameoba and filter/treat your water!

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Little Bear Canyon Light flow Light flow
Very light flow, but clear.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Middle Fork Gila River Light flow Light flow
Clear, nice flow

dry Prior Creek Dry Dry
Dry near Prior Cabin

dry Ring Canyon Dry Dry

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max West Fork Gila River Medium flow Medium flow
Muddy flow, seems that the fire from before is allowing flash floods with every rain and dumping ash/silt into the river.


Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, ankle-twisting, HAZmaster crushing ROCKS!!
Hike Arizona it is full of sharp, pointy, shin-stabbing, skin-shredding plants!
Hike Arizona it is full of striking, biting, stabbing, venomous wildlife!

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.

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