Bear Wallow Creek in Bear Wallow Wilderness

The 11,080 acres of Bear Wallow Wilderness were designated as wilderness in 1984. The wilderness contains some of the largest acreage of old-growth Ponderosa pine forest in the southwest. Bear Wallow Creek flows year-round across the wilderness and provides habitat for the endangered Apache trout.

The wilderness got its name from all the bear wallows in the canyon and the area still has a significant number of black bears. The poison ivy here is also tall and very abundant (hint, hint). Some reports about Bear Wallow Wilderness suggest that "immunity" to poison ivy is a "skill" that should be required of anyone wanting to hike here. If you are allergic to poison ivy, you're going to have a serious problem in this canyon.

There are 5 semi-maintained trails that access the Bear Wallow Wilderness. The Gobbler Point and Reno Trails access the Wilderness from the north, dropping down from easily reached traiheads on Forest Service roads. The Bear Wallow Trail also starts from a Forest Service road and follows the North Fork stream bed down to Bear Wallow Creek and then to the boundary of the Indian Reservation. The Schell Canyon Trail drops down the bed of the South Fork of Bear Wallow Creek, connecting the Bear Wallow Trail with the Rose Spring Trail, a trail which winds along the southern boundary of the Wilderness on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. Road access is easy, just head west off of US 191 just south of Hannagan Meadow on FR 25.

The wilderness abuts the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and visitors who cross the fence will want to have a permit in hand when they do. Humans in the Bear Wallow Wilderness are few and far between, the way it should be (except for the summer weekends when folks escaping from the big cities flock to areas like this for a few hours of peace and quiet, and bring all that noise with them). One thing about the trails in Bear Wallow Wilderness though: there seems to be a fair bit of blowdown (trees blown over by high winds) everywhere.

Bear Wallow Wilderness is also a primary recovery area for the endangered Mexican wolf. You'll probably see signs around offering a $10,000 reward for the apprehension and conviction of anyone seen shooting any of the wolves running around.