Passage #16 - Gila River Canyons


Along the Gila River Location:  Gila River to Tonto National Forest Boundary

Length:  26.0 miles

Southern Access Point:  Kelvin-Riverside Bridge
- GPS Coordinates:  33.10228° N, 110.97494° W
- Access: From the town of Superior, take AZ 177 south for 15.2 miles (MP 152.1) and then turn south onto Florence-Kelvin Highway (next to RR crossing) for 1.2 miles through the community of Kelvin and cross the Kelvin Bridge. The passage begins on the south side of the bridge along Centurion Road. There is a large parking area at the junction of Riverside Rd. and Florence-Kelvin Highway; just across the road from the trailhead. The BLM has constructed a trailhead at the end of Centurion Road. This provides easy access to the Arizona Trail and an increasingly popular segment of this scenic trail along the Gila River.

Northern Access Point:  Tonto National Forest Boundary
- GPS Coordinates:  33.18106° N, 111.13717° W  
- Access: The closest way to access the north end of Passage 16 is to hike in on Alamo Passage from either Picketpost Trailhead (11.5 miles), or drive in on FR 4 from Superior (Mary Rd.) for 7 miles. CAUTION FR 4 is extremely rocky and only accessible with a high-clearance 4WD vehicle and a very confident driver. This will take you to where the trail crosses FR 4 and there is room to park and camp. From this point, you still need to travel south for 4 miles to a ranch gate that divides the two passages.

Trail Route Description:  This passage begins at the Kelvin Bridge as it crosses the Gila River. Just beyond the north end of the bridge the route turns west onto Centurian Road and follows this through a private home area to new single-track trail. The trail then follows the Gila River for many miles - sometimes rising several hundred feet above and sometimes near river level. It passes through several gates, crosses numerous canyon drainages and occasionally catches a glimpse of The Spine, Walnut Canyon Narrows, Copper Butte, and The Rincon, all to the north.
At just over 15 miles from the beginning the trail turns north, leaving the river and traverses through the canyons. It climbs steadily on new single-track and several short sections of old mining roads. After traversing spectacular ridgelines and winding around numerous side drainages, the trail crosses the boundary of Tonto National Forest and then ends at a gate on an abandoned two-track road.

Dale's Butte Difficulty:  Difficult

Season(s):  Fall, Winter and Spring (current weather forecast)

Water:  Water sources are very limited along this passage, except for the Gila River which is usually murky/muddy.

Notes/Warnings:

  • All water along this passage should be purified prior to use.
  • Although this passage crosses State Trust Land, a permit is not required as long as you are on or near the Arizona Trail.

Resources:

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Kearny, Grayback, North Butte and Mineral Mountain.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

Wildflowers along the trail For more information, contact:


Current Trail Information:


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