The United States Congress designated the Bear Wallow Wilderness (map
) in 1984 and it now has a total of 11,080 acres
All of this wilderness is located in Arizona
and is managed by the Forest Service.
**NOTICE** - 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 - all trails have not yet been assessed or maintained for hazards associated with the fire, and changing conditions due to dead falling trees and post-fire flooding may be expected. Please keep in mind that any areas of the wilderness 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 wilderness, 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. Though much of the area was affected by the wallow fire, most of the wilderness experienced a lower intensity burn due to earlier fires that reduced the fuel loading. It is already difficult to find evidence of the fire in many areas, though post-fire flooding has created landslides in some drainages. Bear Wallow Creek provides a habitat for the endangered Apache trout, and is currently closed to all fishing.
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. Aspen and gambel oak thickets thrive in many of the areas burned most severely by the Wallow Fire. 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.