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4 day trip through west/middle Fork of the Gila River

This will be a very wet foot trip. To this day west fork of the Gila is still my favorite trail. We will do a ton of crossing on west fork then have some dry feet for a day then a few and some hot springs third day. Last day we will head out, grab some ice cream at Doc Campbells, grab some brew and brats at a pub at Lake Roberts then head out. Bring all your normal gear, but the most important will be a sturdy water shoe. We will do 12.5 miles with water shoes the first day, 7 or 8 with them third day and 3 with them the last day. so make sure they comfy. bring dry changes of clothes as it can get cold in October. We will meet up Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

The plan: Thursday take West Fork Trail 12.5 miles to Hell's Hole. There is a nice campsite there for us to stay.

Day 2 Friday: Hike to the Junction with Prior Cabin and Lilly Park trail. Short day but the plan is to camp out near the cabin and take some day hikes into the heart of the Gila.

Day 3 Saturday: take a longer day down Prior Cabin trail to the meadows. The trail from the top to the bottom of the canyon is extremely steep. please take caution. We will go from the Meadows and camp last night at Jordan Hot Springs.

Day 4: Hike out.

I intend to hike some provisions to Jordan Hot springs Early Wednesday in wait for our Arrival Saturday. If you want any liquor, or comforts to meet you at Jordan, Get in contact with me before the trip. I intend to hike a 30 pack and some better food in. But can take more if needed.

Please Note: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release form on file with us. This waiver covers all trips and activities so you only need to sign it once. If you have not already signed this form it can be downloaded from our "Files" section and turned in to the organizer when you arrive for the trip.

If you RSVP "Yes" for this trip please plan on attending. Please read our RSVP Policy located in our "Pages" section.

The deadline for changing a "YES" RSVP to a "NO" RSVP is October 3

Trip Dates: October 10 to October 13

Drive Time to Trailhead/Camp Area on Friday Night:5 Hours

Camp Area Location: Grapevine Forest camp is a fine area right next to the East fork of the Gila.

Directions to Camp Area/Trailhead: Take I-25 south past t or c to the exit for high 152 hillsboro. take 152 to San Lorenzo and take 35 north till it meets with 15. take 15 to Grapevine forest camp where we will stay for night. The TH is pretty much at the cliff dwellings. If you decide to stop at Silver City take 15 All the way to camp and cliff dwellings.

Trip Rating: difficult

Trail Length: about 36 miles not including day hikes

Elevation Gain: About 1,750

Expected Temps: Highs 70's, lows in 30's to 40's

Dogs Allowed

Contact Derrick with any questions


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  • Chad

    this trip was...in-tents

    October 16, 2013

  • Corrie B.

    Indeed! Great trip despite all the obstacles. Good group and I'm glad it all came together in the end.

    October 14, 2013

  • Ed

    Great time, great people and great trip. First trip with this group and I'm sure it won't be my last. The fire damage in this part of the Gila isn't as bad as expected. The pre-trip storm was something else with all those trees falling down. I'll try to post my pics this week.

    October 14, 2013

  • Keith F.

    I thought it was a great trip in a still very beautiful place.

    October 14, 2013

  • Derrick

    thanks guys for being flexible with everything. the trail was wrecked and im glad we skipped most of west fork. Prior cabin was cool. jordan as usual. tougher hike than expected. good group though. not too much wildlife.

    October 14, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Hope u guys have fun. Wish I could be there.

    October 9, 2013

  • Derrick

    Alrighty people. this trip is finally here! although we ended up with non ideal hiking conditions, government shutdowns and a skeleton crew, its still happening. I intend to get there around noon. Im gonna hike into the first water crossing on west fork (couple hundred feet) to check the water levels. then gonna hike into middle fork through Little Bear. if its doable im gonna get to jordan and then back hopefully by six. IF I RUN INTO ANY LOCKED GATES OR BARRIERS and im unable to make this happen I am going to call you guys immediately and we will have to come up with a new plan. ill be calling from the pay phone at doc campbells so make sure you answer random numbers please. see you all tomorrow!

    October 9, 2013

    • Derrick

      Van crew. Ill probably still call you guys to give you a heads up on where to look for me. Finding a spot to camp at 11 might not be much fun. Ed makes a good point so tomorrow's camp might need to change last minute.

      October 9, 2013

  • Ed

    I'll be in a red Hyundai Accent. Not too sure on my ETA, plan on feasting at Jalisco in Silver City before heading into the Gila. I may disperse camp and meet everyone at the TH. I'm don't think sleeping in a legally closed Federal property is such a good ideal.

    October 8, 2013

    • Derrick

      email me your phone number.

      October 8, 2013

  • Keith F.

    Our number is dwindling. That means we'll have a great trip and the others will be very jealous.

    1 · October 8, 2013

    • Mark L.

      I'm already missing it. U have no idea how upset I am I'm missing out.

      October 8, 2013

    • Z

      Ditto, I've been jealous and upset since I had to cancel. There will just have to be a follow up trip

      October 8, 2013

  • Christopher M P.

    I was wondering if anyone has room left for one more person in there carpool?

    October 4, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Sorry that I did not get back to you sooner. We have room for you. We're planning to leave from Kirtland at 6 pm, assuming I can get in. If you can't get it let me know a place where you want to leave your car. I'll either pick you up earlier or later than the 6 pm time, depending on the location. Please don't pick a place that is very far from Kirtland unless it is on the way to the Gila. I am staying with my sister and her house is very close to Kirtland.

      October 8, 2013

    • Keith F.

      That was supposed to be "get in" not get it.

      October 8, 2013

  • Mark L.

    We'll I go bad news now. I just got the job that I've been trying for months now. Unfortunately I have to start tomorrow though. So I must cancel this trip.

    October 7, 2013

    • Chad

      Well crap mark, but congratulations

      October 7, 2013

    • Mark L.

      Yeah it sucks I've been planning and buying for this trip forever now. I'm gonna ask them tomorrow during my orientation and see if I can start next week but I don't know what they will say.

      October 7, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Where is everyone staying on Wednesday? I'm gonna be getting in about 5ish. Is it ok to stay at the campgrounds?

    October 7, 2013

  • Ed

    Alright! This trip is getting close. I'm committed for this one and plan on getting to Lake Roberts in mid-afternoon. Since the CG's are closed it looks like dispersed camping will be the way to go.
    Any suggestions on a spot? Its been 7-8 years since I've been to this part of the Gila. If we can't find each other on Wednesday then where and when is the meetup spot?

    October 5, 2013

    • Derrick

      still intend to camp at grapevine since we can always park off the road. ill be getting up there at 12 and if you get there by 5 you can find me at tj corral th. if not check scorpios campgrounds. I drive a beat up white mitsubishi mirage cant miss it. if we miss each other we will meet at west fork th thursday morning at 10

      October 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    The Gila Campground just before you get to Doc's is my fave pre-post Gila hike destination. I usually leave my camper there instead of at the trailhead. The $5 a day is worth the peace of mind from the fear of returning to broken windows. It's $5 a night per person to stay, and it has 3 hotsprings. You'd have to change your hike though. I did a 50 mile solo loop hike a couple of years ago (my profile pic is from that hike)...started near visitor center, then Jordan hotsprings for a night, next day the Meadows and that night at Pryor Cabin, next day Lilly Park and the night in the Pines near the Gila river, and finished the next day. I guess you could do it in reverse. A few weeks later I did a 26 mile figure 8 inside that loop to chart campsites and water sources for future hikes. If I can get some work done I'd love to drive down from ABQ to hike with you guys but I doubt I'll get finished in time.

    October 6, 2013

  • Ed

    I'm up for the Little Creek/Turkey Creek or maybe a loop in between the middle and west forks to Prior cabin. I like going to old cabins. The Aldo option is a very long drive for me.

    October 1, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Now you have me rooting for a prolonged shutdown.

      October 4, 2013

    • Christopher M P.

      Keith , any chance I could catch a ride with you down to the Gila?

      October 6, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Hey guys I have a question about gear. I am trying to choose between taking a 6.5 pound 7x7 dome tent, or a usgi goretex bivy along with a tarp to make an a-frame tent at about 3 pounds total. What do u recommend?

    October 4, 2013

    • Derrick

      For a first trip I would say go as light as possible.

      1 · October 4, 2013

    • Mark L.

      That's the way I was leaning thanks Derrick.

      October 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    My attendance depends on whether the government furlough continues--so if someone else who can definitely make it wants my place, I will be happy to withdraw.

    October 4, 2013

  • Derrick

    Hey people, Corrie and I are gonna be at ABQ brew pub/ uptown sports bar tomorrow around 6:30 to watch the Browns beat the poo out of the Bills. we will be coming up with a couple back up plans. if you want in or input feel free to stop by. Plus, you get to see Corrie cry when her team loses to mine. let me know though, so we can expect you.

    October 2, 2013

    • Corrie B.

      You'll see us because we'll be the only people giving a rat's a$$ about the Bills/Browns game! Bring kleenex for Derrick.

      October 2, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Who is willing to pay the most to get me to root for their team?

      October 2, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Hey Derrick, is the description on here still accurate? I couldn't tell from the comments, doesn't matter to me was just trying to plan ahead. I also liked the idea of picking up some alcohol on day 3, lol.

    October 2, 2013

  • Derrick

    Its just picnic and campgrounds. The forest itself is not. Things are going to proceed as planned.

    October 1, 2013

    • Keith F.

      We're going to need a place to meet if all of the campgrounds are closed. Does anyone remember if there is a gate to close off the TJ Corral parking area?

      October 1, 2013

    • A former member
      A former member

      There is a gate, but I just came out from a trip yesterday afternoon and gates were all open still.

      October 2, 2013

  • Keith F.

    Anyone up for carpooling? I can leave anytime on Wednesday. If I drive my van, we could haul 5-6 of us with gear.

    September 18, 2013

    • Z

      I'm can also drive

      October 1, 2013

    • Dave P.

      Sorry Keith but I had to back out a week or so ago. I'm going to have miss this trip.

      October 1, 2013

  • Corrie B.

    I found conflicting info on the internet (imagine that). But, according to the Las Cruces news, the Gila will remain open during the shutdown, but all facilities will be closed. National Parks/Monuments are closed. Good thing you already talked to the Ranger Derrick, because that guy is no longer working... I'm sure more information will become available after people figure out how hard they're getting screwed. There is nothing yet on the Gila NF website about closures, nor is the website down like many other government websites.

    October 1, 2013

  • Ed

    I'm going to drive over on Wednesday and plan on getting there between 2PM-5PM. It sounds like Grapevine is the choice so that's where I'll go. I'll be in a rental car so I don't know what I'll be driving.

    September 30, 2013

    • Keith F.

      I was told this morning to vacate my campsite within 48 hours. All federal lands are closing today. Grapevine is sure to be closed off. I also heard from the campground host that once shut down it would take a week or more before they would reopen a campground. Technically, hiking is prohibited but I have not been able to confirm that yet. I don't have cell reception here so if anyone can check this out it would be helpful.

      October 1, 2013

    • Derrick

      Ill call at break. I suppose there wont be anyone to regulate so im going anyway

      3 · October 1, 2013

  • Derrick

    ok people got a bit of a problem. had a long talk with one the long time rangers in the area. He said the floods were bad there. He said water was 8 feet above flood plain on middle fork. he said its not wise to travel. the entire trail was washed out and its covered in debris, down logs etc. he said same with west fork but not nearly as bad. said west fork could still be traveled. so we are likely going to change trails. we could stay in the same area and do little creek, turkey creek loop and include turkey creek hotsprings. he said the burn was not bad in that area. or we could do some portions along east fork and the trails end area and it would be fine. or we could do the 34 mile diamond creek loop in the aldo leopold wilderness. I am gonna have an alternative within the next three days. open to suggestions. we could still do this trip because its not hard to navigate within the canyon. but ill leave it open for suggestion.

    September 30, 2013

    • Mark L.

      wondering if the water level will go down by the tenth.

      October 1, 2013

    • Derrick

      no water level isnt the problem. its debris and the fact a trail no longer exists lol.

      October 1, 2013

  • Corrie B.

    Firearms are legal on national forest lands (which we'll be on). Keep in mind it will be hunting season, elk hunts with firearms open 10/12 (as best as I can tell). Better wear orange if you or your dog look strikingly like an elk! I've never encountered hunters on a hike, and have spent plenty of time in the Gila in the fall. Apparently its open bear season too, so looks like you won't be needing your gun or spray as they'll all be hiding... Kidding, sort of. Use what you are comfortable with, but I will eat my backpack if anyone needs to use bearspray or a firearm!

    1 · September 26, 2013

    • Derrick

      Not likely we will encounter hunters in these canyons. I agree we wont even need to use them. My experience with gila bears is they tend to run. Now javelinas are a different story. I will wear my infamous orange shirt since ive been told on several occasions that I look like a hot female elk.

      September 26, 2013

    • Keith F.

      They are legal on NF land if they are legal in that state which they are in NM. The Forest Service goes along with the state laws.

      September 26, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Can anyone tell me if they are taking a firearm,
    or if it's allowed for protection from bear. Is
    bear spray sufficient?

    September 25, 2013

    • Derrick

      Well im taking one. Could care less what everyone else is bringing. I have personal rules for firearms on my trips. Dont use them unless your life depends on it. And once the alcohol comes out your gun goes away.

      1 · September 26, 2013

    • Keith F.

      I guess I should update my will and make sure my health insurance covers getting sprayed by bear spray.

      September 26, 2013

  • Derrick

    Ok people im gonna put it up for vote. First nights campsite. Between grapevine assuming it opens or one of the scorpios. My vote goes for grapevine. Its a nice little site next to east fork before the forks all meet to make the gila river. Pretty much the entire thing is flat with huge cottonwoods. Its close to gila hot springs. Those that choose, which I will probably do is head over in the evening and take a nice soak. The downside is having to drive a few extra miles to the trailhead in the morning. The scorpios are nice and close to west fork. Kinda small. They have tables. Both have toilets. Would not require much of a drive in the morning. So whatll it be?

    September 25, 2013

    • Corrie B.

      Grapevine sounds good.

      September 26, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Grapevine is the nicest I believe.

      September 26, 2013

  • Mark L.

    I'm not bringing him this time, but how do u think a blue heeler would do on a backpacking trip? Could he carry his own bag, how much weight could he carry? He is full grown prob 3 years old

    September 24, 2013

    • Z

      Chad, our dogs and the same packs and look like they belong to the same family. I'm way behind on loading our backpacking photos but they are members of the Santa Fe hiking group. Heres a pic without there packs http://www.meetup.com...­

      1 · September 24, 2013

    • Z

      They first started carrying only their water and food and then I keep putting more and more in their packs... my stove, fuel, toiletries etc and they still dont act like they feel it. Now Lu started limping and has arthritis so we'll see how she does but the girls love their packs too

      September 24, 2013

  • Chad

    I think with all the dogs and peoples, there won't be a bear within miles, or they will be directly hunting us, either way, mashes for a good trip. :-)

    September 24, 2013

  • Chad

    So I'm bringing Buzz, Corrie has Killian, what other dogs are coming?

    September 21, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Spike is so well behaved you won't even know he's there.

      September 23, 2013

    • Derrick

      4 dogs not so bad. im not taking mine though. 2 more would be crazy!

      September 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Well, I'm not going to be able to make this trip to the Gila either. Hopefully next year. Have fun! Sounds great with all the dogs....

    September 23, 2013

  • Derrick

    Heys guys. Kristi brought it to my attention that I have the waitlist on auto accidentally. I cant fix this until later. If you have been added or dont plan to go take youraelf off. Its almost 2 weeks till the trip you should have a good idea if you can make it or not by now.

    September 23, 2013

  • Dave P.

    Drat, I've got a conflict now on this weekend and need to drop out. This is my 2nd attempt to get to the Gila this year. I'll try again next year.

    September 22, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I know the trip is several weeks off, but I wanted to report that the Gila has been getting a lot of rain and there has been massive flooding along all the creeks and rivers. Grapevine Campground is currently closed - I don't know what the damage status is. There has been a lot of large debris deposited all along river banks. Should be an interesting trip!

    September 18, 2013

    • Derrick

      It will be fine.

      September 18, 2013

    • Keith F.

      Both scorpion campgrounds are open as well as the two corral CGs and the Upper Forks CG. The road is open all the way to the cliff dwellings and they expect to reopen the visitor center this week. I agree with Derrick. Unless something new happens, we will be fine.

      September 19, 2013

  • Ed

    Been looking forward to backpacking this part of the Gila for sometime and doing a trip with this group.Google Earth shows this area mostly unburned. I camped at the Meadows in mid to late October some time ago and it got down into the low 20's. I'll probably camp at one of the developed CG's on Wednesday night.

    September 17, 2013

    • Derrick

      Yeah most of it will be unburned or lightly burned which with the amount of rain it has been getting probably won't even be noticeable. The plan is to meet up at grapevine which is a developed campsite.

      September 17, 2013

  • Karen E.

    I so wanted to join you but family commitments prevent my going. Be safe and have a great trip.

    September 13, 2013

  • Derrick

    Ok people I took the Apache Holt trail yesterday to the burn. only got about a mile in before i decided that none of my trips will be within the burn for many years. I understand some areas may be better and some worse, but I do not want to find out. The Gila is getting quite a bit of rain and the trail is overgrown. every single drainage is running and the normal intermittent streams are raging creeks right now. Big Dry Creek was almost full! The trails are eroded with lots of washed out parts. you really gotta watch your step. with the overgrowth your footing has to be immaculate. Scenery isn't too great with all the dead and burned trees. Not my cup of tea. Its definitely growing back and will be beautiful again. It is just naturally gonna take some time. So expect this trip in the non burn area likely near the cliff dweillings. Ill post some pictures later

    1 · September 12, 2013

  • Derrick

    Im heading down to the gila wednesday and Thursday to see the burn scar for myself. See how bad it is. Ill have a decision on trail by weekend

    1 · September 9, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Ok I RSVP'ed. I'm in! What kind of gear is everyone taking? This will be my first backpacking experience. Any advice?

    September 5, 2013

    • Derrick

      Busy. Its gonna have to wait a bit longer

      September 7, 2013

    • Mark L.

      Ok no prob.

      September 8, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    So bummed... I may not be able to attend after-all :{ it's not for certain yet but looks that might be the case. I was very much looking forward to hiking the Gila in October especially since it has had so much rain! I bet it's beautiful!

    September 5, 2013

    • Derrick

      hope everything works out!

      September 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    How will this compare with the Snow Lake to TJ trip?

    September 5, 2013

    • Derrick

      depends on which trail i choose. im gonna go check out the burn scar next wednesday and thursday and see how ugly it is. if its not so bad it may be on that side which will be harder than the trip we did earlier this year.

      September 6, 2013

  • Karen E.

    Derrick do you have a number I could call or text you?

    September 5, 2013

  • Tony

    I wonder if anyone might be interested in a 60-70 mile trip in the Aldo Leopold-Gila Wilderness area the first week of October? I'd like to do the posted trip but my vacation time does not coincide. Bummer.
    I will be out for seven to nine days. 12 to 16 mile days possible, a rest day or two for the multiple hot springs of course. Experienced packers, sorry no dogs.
    Sorry Derrick for attempting to poach your backpackers!
    Peace

    September 5, 2013

  • Z

    The more miles the better!!

    September 5, 2013

    • Mark L.

      Easy on miles buddy, I'm a fat kid. Lol

      September 5, 2013

  • Mark L.

    What do u predict the day and night time temps to be?

    September 4, 2013

    • Derrick

      HaRd to say. Ive spent october nights in 20 degrees. The average is 70s days and high 30s nights

      September 5, 2013

  • Mark L.

    Hey I'm new to this group. And new to backpacking, I would like to join but am not sure if I am physically up to it. 30 miles? How many per day? Would I be outta luck if I could not keep up?

    September 3, 2013

    • Mark L.

      If its spread out that much I don't think it would be a problem, I was thinking it was a 2- day hike. Anyway u can let me know exactly how long tho? I would really like to go, and I think I could hike 4 hours a day with no problem.

      September 4, 2013

    • Derrick

      Well the one I mentioned is 36.5 miles. Its probably gonna range around that no matter which route I decide to take

      September 4, 2013

  • Ed

    This will be my 1st trip with this group. No worry, I can handle this trip. Even though I live near Phoenix, the Gila was my get away from people place. This will be my 1st trip back after last years fire.

    September 4, 2013

    • Derrick

      Fire hasnt too bad in the areas I have been. Welcone. Glad more people are enthusiastic about the gila

      September 4, 2013

  • Z

    Are dogs invited?

    1 · September 4, 2013

    • Derrick

      Yes dogs are always invited

      September 4, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I have been backpacking in the Gila...and it is awesome! I would love to go...but I am probably not quite physically up to that yet. (I went many years ago). I just joined NM Backpackers and look forward to going on a slightly easier backpack soon.

    September 4, 2013

  • Steve M.

    Turkey Creek and hot spgs.?

    September 3, 2013

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