Albuquerque: Gila Loop

Lush river canyons meet high desert mesas on this 23.7-mile, 3-day loop in the Gila Wilderness.
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Lush river canyons meet high desert mesas on this 23.7-mile, 3-day loop in the Gila Wilderness.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 38.2

Waypoints

GLT001

Location: 33.2293815612793, -108.263999938965

Head NW on Gila West Fork Trail, crossing NE corner of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument

GLT002

Location: 33.2348899841309, -108.272003173828

Sandy path runs by alligator juniper, easily ID'd by its unique scalelike bark

GLT003

Location: 33.2373390197754, -108.280403137207

Continue NW, passing side trail to EE Canyon. Small wild grapes grow in moist nooks along the West Fork of the Gila River

GLT004

Location: 33.2444801330566, -108.291801452637

Climb steeply out of West Fork Canyon to sun baked mesa. Collard lizards scurry among prickly pears and yuccas at speeds up to 16 mph

GLT005

Location: 33.2516098022461, -108.29109954834

Bear R @ Y, bearing N

GLT006

Location: 33.2777481079102, -108.297798156738

Grab lunch under shady ponderosas before dropping into Big Bear Canyon

GLT007

Location: 33.2870292663574, -108.310096740723

Cross dry creek bed; trail climbs NW

GLT008

Location: 33.2975807189941, -108.324401855469

Steep switchbacks drop nearly 1,000 ft. into The Meadows, a high-desert oasis with shady campsites near the cool ripples of the Middle Fork

GLT009

Location: 33.3044700622559, -108.319396972656

Optional: Turn L to explore narrows of Indian Creek

GLT010

Location: 33.2941398620606, -108.297401428223

Wind along lush canyon floor while crossing the Middle Fork multiple times

GLT011

Location: 33.2721710205078, -108.259902954102

Turn R @ Y; follow Little Bear Canyon through dim, moss-covered slot canyon

GLT012

Location: 33.2662696838379, -108.259002685547

Camp the 2nd night in flat, open spots just off trail

GLT013

Location: 33.2348709106445, -108.248199462891

Trail swings SW toward road. In .9 mi, turn R onto road, hike 1 mi. to trailhead

Canyon Views

Location: 33.2985725402832, -108.321990966797

©Bill Velasquez

River Crossing

Location: 33.305103302002, -108.318725585938

©Bill Velasquez