New Meetup: Backpacking along the West Fork of the Gila River

From: Stephen
Sent on: Friday, August 21, 2009 4:21 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for The New Mexico Backpackers Meetup Group!

What: Backpacking along the West Fork of the Gila River

When: October 9,[masked]:00 PM

Gila Wilderness
3005 E. Camino del Bosque
Silver City, NM 88061

We will be hiking northwest along the West Fork of the Gila River starting at the same trailhead for the Gila Cliff Dwellings. This trail provides an iconic New Mexican wilderness experience. The West Fork Trail #151 literally traverses the heart of the Wilderness, but we will only experience a mere 3 miles of its 35 mile stretch. Day hikes can be made further along Trail #151 up the river or climbing up the few trails to the canyon rim. The world's first area set aside for wilderness protection, the Gila National Forest is New Mexico's largest, most remote, and arguably the most diverse. Its history includes the father of wildlife conservation Aldo Leopold and the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo. From lush river valleys to desert uplands, the Gila is rugged with mountainous uplands, steep canyons and rocky streams. Ponderosa pine forests at higher elevations tower above rich deciduous forests along the streams in the canyon bottoms.

Expect numerous stream crossings, although the stream should be only a foot or two deep slick rocks in the stream bed can complicate the crossings. Weather conditions should be favorable, with warm sunny days and chilly nights. The monsoon season will have ended, but autumn will be in full swing. Since we are hiking the river bottom, procuring water will not be a problem (with filtering). With the high popularity of the trail, it may be that we have to hike the whole three miles to find an empty one large enough for the group and Leave No Trace Ethics should be practiced to minimize the impact of our group.

Please Note: Anyone attending our trips must have a signed Waiver & Release Form on file with us. This covers all trips and activities for 2009, so you only have 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.

Please read our "RSVP" Policy located in our "About" section

The deadline for changing a "Yes" RSVP to a "No" RSVP is September 24, 2009

Trip Dates: October 9 (Friday evening at the car-camp) thru October 11 (Sunday hike-out), 2009

Drive Time to Campground/Trailhead: 5.5 hours from Albuquerque, 3 hours from the exit of I-25 South onto Hwy 152.

Campground Location: Upper Scorpion Campground - unless it happens to be full then look for us in the Lower Scorpion Campground. Both are free with first-come, first-serve policies. Look for the Meetup sign!

Directions to Campground: From I-25, take Exit 63 which is NM-152 and head west. Stay on NM-152 for 51 miles then turn right onto NM-35 for 27 miles. Turn right onto NM-15 and drive for 17 miles. Turn left immediately after the sign for the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Visitor Center to remain on NM-15 and find the campsite. The Scorpion Campgrounds are free to park and the trailhead parking fee is $3 per day - this being for the Cliff Dwellings Monument - the distance between them is about 1,000 feet along the road.

High clearance vehicles not required.

Trip Rating: Easy (good for beginners)

Trail Length: 3 miles one-way, 6 miles total

Trail Type: Out-and-Back

Maps: Gila National Forest from the Forest Service. USGS 1:24,000 USGS Topo Quads: Gila Hot Springs, Little Turkey Park, and Woodland Park.

Guide Books: New Mexico's Wilderness Areas, by Bob Julyan

Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Elevation Range: 5,700 - 5,800 feet

Expected Temps: 70's during the day and lower to middle 40's at night. It would be wise to pack for temperatures reaching into the middle to low 30's just in case.

Dogs Allowed (on leashes while hiking on trail thru National Monument area)

Notice: Disregard the info/map directions link as it is incorrect!

Contact Stephen or Bob F with any questions.

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