Bear Wallow Wilderness

Area Status: Open
This area is Open


The Bear Wallow Wilderness was the origin point of, and has been severely affected by, the Wallow Fire of June 2011. The area is currently open to public use and entry, HOWEVER - The trails may not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire.  Please keep in mind that any area affected by the wildfire can be prone to hazards such as falling trees, flooding and burned out stump holes. The environment you are entering is highly susceptible to rainstorms and wind events. Any time you enter the forest, you should be aware of your environment and changing weather conditions. You are responsible for your own safety! Always look up, look down, and look all around.

The Bear Wallow Wilderness is home to some of the largest acreage of virgin ponderosa pine in the Southwest, venerable reminders of a once extensive forest of these giants. Along the length of the area, through a blanket of pine, fir, and spruce, Bear Wallow Creek flows year-round and is shaded by green riparian hardwoods during summer. The creek provides a habitat for the endangered Apache trout; anglers can try for other species in the creek and its north and south forks. Early explorers were impressed by the large number of well-used wallows, which revealed how plentiful the area's population of black bears was. Black bears still abound, and you may see elk, deer, and a diverse community of smaller mammals, birds, and reptiles. Wildflowers bloom in profusion, especially during the summer rains. Poison ivy is present and can be dangerously abundant in places.

Five trails offer foot and horse access to Bear Wallow. The Reno Trail #62 (1.9 miles) and the Gobbler Point Trail #59 (2.9 miles) drop into the canyon of the creek from easily accessible trailheads on Forest Service roads. The Bear Wallow Trail # 63 follows the rocky stream bed 8.2 miles to the boundary of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. The Schell Canyon Trail #316 (2.8 miles) connects the Bear Wallow Trail and the canyon floor to the Rose Spring Trail #309 (4.5 miles), which skirts the southern boundary along the precipitous Mogollon Rim, the southern edge of the vast Colorado Plateau. From atop the Mogollon Rim the views to the south are tremendous. Visitors to the San Carlos Reservation must have an advance permit. For information and permits, contact the San Carlos Tribal Office, Box O, San Carlos, AZ 85550. Recreational use of Bear Wallow is light. 

Bear Wallow Wilderness is part of the 110 million acre National Wilderness Preservation System. This System of lands provides clean air, water, and habitat critical for rare and endangered plants and animals. In wilderness, you can enjoy challenging recreational activities like hiking, backpacking, climbing, kayaking, canoeing, rafting, horse packing, bird watching, stargazing, and extraordinary opportunities for solitude.
You play an important role in helping to "secure for the American people of present and future generations the benefits of an enduring resource of wilderness" as called for by the Congress of the United States through the Wilderness Act of 1964.
Please follow the requirements outlined below and use Leave No Trace techniques when visiting the Bear Wallow Wilderness to ensure protection of this unique area.

Leave No Trace

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

For more information on Leave No Trace

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Restrictions: Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is prohibited in designated wilderness. This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters. The maximum group size for overnight camping in the Bear Wallow Wilderness is 25 persons per campsite.   The maximum number of pack and riding stock per group in the Bear Wallow Wilderness is 25 persons and 35 livestock per group. The maximum number of people hiking day use is 25 persons per group. 

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



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