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Bear Wallow Wilderness - Apache / Sitgreaves National Forest

Summary: A nice enough hike beside a perennial stream in the White Mountains of Arizona. Unfortunately there are large thickets of poison ivy that line the trail, which can make for a very unpleasant experience. I will describe a short loop descending the Bear Wallow Trail to the Reno Trail and using FR #25 to return to your car.
Directions: Drive Highway 191 south from Alpine or north from the mining town of Morenci (very interesting if you want to see the impact of large scale copper mining) to Forest Road #25. Head north on the well graded, gravel FR #25 for 3 miles to the signed Bear Wallow Trailhead on the left.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy
Length: 7.5 miles
Date Hiked: June 2003
Weather Conditions: Nice
Required Skills: Immunity from poison ivy
Hike Description: From the signed Bear Wallow Trailhead begin descending along a well worn path into the wilderness (0 miles, 9000 feet). The path drops down along a tributary of Bear Wallow Creek through an area covered with a lot of fallen trees. After 1.5 miles you will reach the main creek and the path bends right to follow it. The creek itself gurgles through black, basalt boulders and is lined with a few nice meadows in this upper section. The trail crosses the stream a few times as you descend, until you eventually reach a signed junction with the right branching Reno Trail (2.6 miles, 7260 feet). Below the Reno junction, the path becomes rather moist and poison ivy appears, first as a few plants along the trail, then as large bushes lining the path. Those with allergies to this bothersome plant will either want to be on horse back, or be wearing long pants to continue. Otherwise, to do a loop, turn right on the Reno trail, and begin climbing along the left slope of a prominent drainage. The path climbs moderately along this drainage, bends left, into a smaller tributary, then climbs the remaining way up the FR #25 across from a road which leads a short distance to the Reno lookout tower (4.5 miles, 8880 feet). Turn right and follow FR #25 the remaining 3 miles back to your car (7.5 miles, 9000 feet).
Rating (1-5 stars):
I had initially planned to hike the Bear Wallow Trail down to the Indian reservation boundary and back, but was turned around by the thickets of poison ivy about 15 minutes below the Reno Trail junction. I hiked out on the Reno Trail to make a loop out of it. Not really that interesting of a hike. The loop was completed in 2 hours 45 minutes at a brisk pace.
Maps: Coconino National Forest Map
Books: Exploring Arizona's Wild Areas - Scott S. Warren
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
A nice meadow beside the creek. Bear Wallow Creek.