FROM END TO END
An Overview: Phoenix to Albuquerque on Foot

 

Segments 1 & 2 :: Superstition Mountains
Phoenix to Superior

Image Gallery
Superstition Wildernessimage gallery ]

The Grand Enchantment Trail begins 45 miles east of downtown Phoenix, AZ at the First Water Trailhead in the Superstition Mountains (Tonto National Forest). It follows foot trail east into this rugged volcanic desert range, winding through lush canyon bottoms and over viewful passes, past saguaro cacti, teddy bear cholla, jojoba, and other highly-adapted plants of the lower Sonoran desert. Weaver's Needle, a dramatic rock fang, is often in view, marking the location of the mythical Lost Dutchman's Gold while adding to the real-world grandeur of this landscape. East of sheer-walled Upper La Barge Box, the route climbs toward scenic Horse Ridge and Tortilla Pass, now in the upper Sonoran desert life zone, before descending to follow the rockbound drainage of Rogers Creek and passing near a 700 year old Salado cliff dwelling. Here the GET joins the Arizona Trail, not far from the gravesite and former ranch of Elisha Reavis, the "hermit of the Superstitions." Following the AZ Trail south, the route climbs chaparral-cloaked Montana Mountain with sweeping views, then drops steeply to follow the drainages of Reavis and Whitford canyons, finally leaving the Superstitions and reaching US Hwy 60 four miles west of the town of Superior nearby the renowned Boyce Thompson Southwestern Arboretum.


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 1-2
Guidebook:   Segment 1  |  Segment 2
Town Guide: Phoenix  |  Superior
Image Gallery: Album 1
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 3 - 5 :: White Canyon Wilderness & Tortilla Mountains
Superior to Mammoth

Image Gallery
Picketpost Mountain image gallery ]

Continuing southbound along the route of the Arizona Trail (and sometimes apart from it), the GET follows a combination of maintained singletrack and primitive foot trail into the little-known White Canyon Wilderness (BLM), a small but superlative landscape of remnant volcanic peaks and colorful ash-flow sedimentary cliffs. The Sonoran desert here is in fine form, with dense stands of saguaro cacti among a panoply of unique desert flora on display. After a challenging hike along rugged drainages and old mining roads south of the wilderness area, the route rejoins the Arizona Trail alongside the tree-lined banks of the Gila River where it seeks out a bridged crossing upstream. Beyond, the terrain gradually mellows and long-range views highlight the distant Sky Island range of the Santa Catalina Mountains near Tucson. Here the route continues to follow an adventurous web of singletrack trail and connecting dirt roads as it seeks out lone Antelope Peak, a low volcanic outlier of the Tortilla Mountains. Eventually the GET and AZT part ways for good, as our route turns east along the wide sandy course of Putnam Wash in the company of dark basalt cliffs, then along the gentle San Pedro River in a rare desert riparian oasis, to reach AZ Hwy 77 ten miles north of the small village of Mammoth AZ.


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 3  |  4  |  5
Town Guide: Mammoth
Image Gallery: Album 2
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 6 - 11 :: Aravaipa Canyon, Santa Teresa &
Pinaleņo sky islands
Mammoth (and Klondyke) to Safford

Image Gallery
Pinaleņo Mountains image gallery ]

East of AZ Hwy 77 the Grand Enchantment Trail heads into Sonoran desert foothills of the sky-island Galiuro Mountains, wherein lies the entrance to spectacular Aravaipa Canyon (BLM Wilderness). Sheer canyon walls rise a thousand feet above the lush, deciduous banks of perennial Aravaipa Creek, where we linger, wet feet and broad smiles, for some 12 unforgettable miles. Quiet dirt roads resume east of the canyon, leading within range of the remote outpost of Klondyke - another potential maildrop resupply location - before our route turns northeast to climb into the extreme rugged terrain of the Santa Teresa Wilderness (Coronado National Forest). Little-used trails provide supreme solitude as we navigate the adventurous granite-domed wonderland of Holdout Canyon, then over 7000-foot Cottonwood Mountain near well-named Pinnacle Ridge, and south to reach Klondyke Road. A fun yet challenging cross-country connection culminates at Tripp Canyon, where the GET soon rejoins foot trail to climb high into the forested Pinaleņo Mountains (Coronado NF), passing serene Riggs Lake and the viewful fire tower atop 10,000-foot Webb Peak, where snow may linger well into spring. The desert heat seems as far away as the distant horizon atop this tallest of Arizona's Sky Island ranges, where broad panoramas reveal such distinguished neighbors as the Rincons, Huachucas, Chiricahuas, as well as the Mogollon Mountains in New Mexico farther along the GET. Leaving the high country by and by, we follow the magnificent craggy defile of forested Ash Creek Canyon on down toward the open desert nearly a vertical mile-and-a-half below, passing through an astonishing range of life zones in only a few miles of travel. Finally the route joins quiet greasewood-flanked dirt roads to reach the outskirts of bustling Safford, with most services available.


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11
Town Guide: Klondyke  |  Safford
Image Gallery: Album 3
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 12 - 14 :: Old Safford-Morenci Trail, Eagle Creek & Painted Bluffs
Safford to Morenci / Clifton

Image Gallery
Eagle Creek Canyon image gallery ]

The Old Safford-Morenci Trail follows a former trade route between the two towns from which it finds its name. The GET follows quiet, viewful dirt roads and washes north of Safford to join this BLM-administered historic trail in the high desert Gila Mountains of Arizona, where developed singletrack trail, old roads, and cairned drainage courses make for interesting, remote, and highly varied trekking. Colorful box canyons lead into and out of the secluded riparian corridor of Bonita Creek about half way along, and beyond the route climbs to Bellmeyer Saddle, a scenic grassy expanse at 6000 feet in elevation. Descending to Eagle Creek in its rugged, winding gorge - prime bighorn sheep country - an alternate route soon climbs away, while the main GET turns north, following Eagle Creek's canyon upstream, with numerous (though generally mild) fords. White-nosed coati are often seen cavorting among sycamores and cottonwoods in the creekside riparian forest. At length the Painted Bluff Trail leads us east away from the river, along the way offering glimpses of ancient pictographs in a high-desert mountain landscape rich with solitude. Views at last open toward the vast open-pit of the Morenci copper mine as our route descends to cross the Coronado Trail, a famously serpentine mountain highway with potential opportunities for a ride into Morenci village. Historic Clifton, another resupply option, lies several miles farther downhill, a virtual living history museum to the region's early mining days.


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 12  |  13  |  14
Town Guide: Morenci / Clifton
Image Gallery: Album 4
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 15 - 18 :: The Blue Range, Blue River & Maple Peak
Morenci / Clifton AZ to Alma & Glenwood NM

Image Gallery
Blue River image gallery ]

The jumbled ridges of Arizona's Blue Range unfold northward and the GET contours along their slopes, following foot trail flanked by live oak and manzanita, interspersed with shady conifers and secluded groves of maple alive with color in autumn. Views eastward extend to the Mogollon Mountains along our route in New Mexico, and to the nearer canyon system of the Blue River, toward which we now descend. Fording this small river in a remote setting, the wildness of the scene before us is truly written in the sands at creekside, where Merriam's turkey, black bear, and mountain lion leave telltale trace of their passage. Foot trail resumes en route toward prominent Maple Peak (8200'), from which a vantage of the Blue Range Primitive Area unfolds toward the Mogollon Rim. Descending to reach the Arizona/New Mexico boundary, the GET joins forest roads and heads east through classic New Mexican juniper-grassland toward the small ranching community of Alma, 4 miles north of more tourist-oriented Glenwood.

Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 15  |  16  |  17  |  18
Town Guide: Alma / Glenwood
Image Gallery: Album 5
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 19 - 21 :: Mogollon Mountains & West Fork Gila River
Alma & Glenwood to Gila Hot Springs

Image Gallery
Mogollon Mountains image gallery ]

Mineral Creek east of Hwy 180 offers tantalizing views of the lofty Mogollon Range, which the GET joins not far from Mogollon ghost town and the renowned Catwalk National Recreation Trail, a series of suspended walkways along a sheer and narrow gorge. Entering the Gila Wilderness, our trail gradually gains the 10,000-foot crest of the range, often snowbound well into spring. (An alternate route circumvents the crest.) Mogollon Baldy (10,770'), highest mountain directly along the route, affords truly awe-inspiring vistas from its open summit, including a glimpse of Mount Graham in Arizona and ahead toward the San Mateo Mountains. Old growth forest offers opportunities for contemplation along the well-graded descent toward the West Fork Gila River, where wildflower meadows invite pause near the entrance to its pinnacled canyon. Foot trail continues into the strikingly faceted canyon, writhing and fording its way some 16 memorable miles to the entrance of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. A high-water detour also rejoins here, 3 miles north of historic Doc Campbell's Trading Post and the community of Gila Hot Springs.


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 19  |  20  |  21
Town Guide: Gila Hot Springs
Image Gallery: Album 6
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 22 - 27 :: Gila Country and the Continental Divide
Gila Hot Springs to Monticello

Image Gallery
S. Diamond Crk Canyon image gallery ]

The Grand Enchantment Trail continues its water-blessed way through the majestic Gila Country of New Mexico, first along the Middle Fork Gila River, then climbing above its canyon to cross open mesas toward a meeting with the Gila's gentler East Fork as well as Diamond Creek, a prime tributary. Foot trails, both maintained and informal, continue to allow nearly seamless travel as the route enters park-like Tom Moore Canyon. Here an adventurous side trip gains access to an enticing slot canyon, while the GET strides more easily in open ponderosa forest - prime elk habitat - ascending gradually toward amusingly named Me Own Hill. A short switchbacking descent next accesses the verdant canyon bottom of South Diamond Creek, where our route begins a final climb toward the Continental Divide. Views abound on the Black Range Crest near 9800' Diamond Peak, from which the Continental Divide Trail leads north for several miles of well-graded ridgewalking, while young aspens lend spectacular fall color in numerous old burns along the way. To the north the Divide mellows and ponderosas take hold once more as the GET/CDT tours on purpose-built trail tread. After 45 serene but sometimes droughty miles, the GET leaves the Continental Divide near Wahoo Peak to head east, clambering downhill to the Gila National Forest boundary, where we exit the forest some 140 miles from our entrance near Glenwood. Dirt roads and cross-country travel then lead through rolling juniper-yucca-grassland desert toward the entrance to Monticello Box canyon and Ojo Caliente (Warm Spring), the area still sacred to Apaches whose ancestors once called this land home. Beyond, the GET climbs above the perennial waters of Alamosa Creek to within a day's walk of the peaceful hamlet of Monticello, an important resupply opportunity.

Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 22  |  23  |  24  |  25  |  26  |  27
Town Guide: Winston  |   Monticello
Image Gallery: Album 7
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 28 - 31 :: San Mateo and Magdalena Mountains
Monticello to Magdalena

Image Gallery
N. Baldy, Magdalena Mtns image gallery ]

The bold, talus-strewn profile of the San Mateo Mountains looms ahead as the GET follows a lonely track known as the Burma Road among folded juniper-grassland hills. Ahead, the rugged defile of Shipman Canyon offers access to the Cibola National Forest and Apache Kid Wilderness. Infrequently visited and providing one of the finest high-elevation wilderness experiences along the route, this wilderness area also provides refuge for mountain lion and black bear, the latter in increasing numbers. These mountains once legendarily offered human ensconcement as well, and our route passes near the final resting place of the wanted outlaw called Apache Kid, high on the 10,000-foot crest of the range. Scenery and solitude abound as we head north along the rugged ridge, joining the adjacent Withington Wilderness to explore a pair of fire lookouts, including Mt Withington's (10,100') with views of the vast Plains of San Agustin below and first glimpses of the Sandia Crest ahead near Albuquerque. The drainage of Potato Canyon reveals fascinating volcanic geology as the GET descends east off the crest, back onto the high desert to follow jeep tracks and cross-country canyons in search of our next Sky Island range, the Magdalena Mountains. Here, a rugged ascent leads to one of the finest ridgeline walks on the entire route, with open, alpine-like terrain near South Baldy (10,783'), frequent meadows, and a knife edge traverse. The Langmuir lightning research facility is located here as well, alongside the Magdalena Ridge Observatory, an ultra-high-resolution telescope array currently under development. Finally the GET returns to high-desert country again near the famed ghost town of Kelly, 3 miles south of historic Magdalena and our next wayside along the route.

Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 28  |  29  |  30  |  31
Town Guide: Magdalena
Image Gallery: Album 8
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 32 & 33 :: San Lorenzo Canyon, Rio Grande Valley & the Chihuahuan Desert
Magdalena to Mountainair

Image Gallery
San Lorenzo Canyon image gallery ]

A variety of desert environments provide exhilarating open-air walking as the Grand Enchantment Trail extends northeastward from Magdalena. North of US Hwy 60 the route makes use of forest roads on a brief tour of the Bear Mountains, then crosses the wide juniper-grassland valley of La Jencia Creek via an enjoyable network of primitive 2-tracks and cross-country travel. Ladron Peak, wild and little-explored, stands sentinel on the distant horizon, while ahead lies the smaller Polvadera range, which we approach, watching for herds of pronghorn antelope, before descending to reach San Lorenzo Canyon. Here the route follows a sandy wash into a colorful, sheer-walled box canyon, with several labyrinthine slots available for exploration, then reaches the fertile Rio Grande valley and a resupply option at tiny Polvadera (or larger Socorro). The GET winds through the Rio Grande bosque, or "riverside woods," fording the wide, often shallow river (high water detour available), then proceeds back into the Chihuahuan desert, where cross-country travel and lonely 2-track roads lead past intriguing mesas and unnamed desert peaks. Our tour of this little-known region culminates again at Hwy 60, here 18 miles west of Mountainair, a small ranching town offering basic provisions.

Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 32  |  33
Town Guide: Polvadera  |  Mountainair
Image Gallery: Album 9
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 34 - 37 :: Manzano & Manzanita Mountains
Mountainair to Tijeras

Image Gallery
Manzano Crest image gallery ]

The Abo District of Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument makes for a worthwhile detour along US Hwy 60. Northward, the GET explores a series of secluded sandstone arroyos, often with spring pools, then ascends via 2-track to a pinyon-juniper forested plateau at the foot of the spectacular Manzano Mountains. A well-worn forest road leads a half hour or so to Pine Shadow Trailhead, where our route joins foot trail, climbing sharply to Manzano Peak (10,098') at the southern end of the fault-block range. Here begins a memorable 2 day traverse of the Manzano Crest Trail, as we wind along an extraordinary ridge, over summits clad in spruce and fir, through aspen-blessed meadows, and along the edge of a sheer limestone "reef," often within sight of the vast Rio Grande valley below. The Manzano Hawk Watch site is here, an ideal vantage from which to view raptors along this important migration corridor. Black bear are commonly seen among the forests and meadows, and especially near Capilla Peak Campground, a popular retreat along the way. Finally our route descends eastward, leaving the Manzano Wilderness and, at Canon Tajique, entering a lush forest of Rocky Mountain large-tooth maples, crimson in fall and among the finest such groves in all of New Mexico. Regaining the Cibola National Forest at meadow-blessed David Canyon, foot trails lead us north toward Otero and Cedro canyons, the latter representing a significant riparian habitat success story here at the wildland-urban boundary. A brief climb to the juniper-cloaked flanks above Tunnel Canyon rewards with sweeping views of looming Sandia Crest. A short roadwalk then leads into Tijeras, located along old Route 66, and offering a final maildrop option for Albuquerque-bound thru-hikers.

Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 34  |  35  |  36  |  37
Town Guide: Tijeras
Image Gallery: Album 10
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart



Segments 38 & 39 :: Sandia Mountains & Sandia Crest
Tijeras to Albuquerque

Image Gallery
La Cueva Canyon spires image gallery ]

The Grand Enchantment Trail ascends the gentle east face of the Sandia Crest - the final mountain range on our enchanted tour - then suddenly reaches a vantage westward. The silent mountain drops precipitously to the valley floor and the dazzling spectacle of Albuquerque overwhelms the senses. Northward along the crest our trail continues, winding through primeval forest of aspen-spruce-fir and reaching further outlooks toward the other world beyond. We wander through sunny meadows, encountering few people, then climb higher, reaching the Sandia Crest Aerial Tram and meeting perhaps the first tourists of our journey. Now with company we marvel at the spires and cliffs before us, then climb onward through dense boreal forest toward the height of the crest (10,678), pausing perhaps for a meal at the summit house. The GET now descends westward, following the popular La Luz Trail into rockbound La Cueva Canyon, (then onto the Tramway Trail) a well constructed and rewarding route that links mountain with desert, wilderness with civilization, our journey with our memories of a grand and enchanting place.

 


Resources

OVERVIEW MAP
Overview Map: Segments 3-5
Guidebook:   Segment 38  |  39
Town Guide: Sandia Tram  |  Albuquerque
Image Gallery: Album 11
Order Topo Maps
Water Chart

 


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