Location

  • Freeman Road Trailhead to the Gila River

Length

  • 28.1 miles

Southern Trailhead: Freeman Road Trailhead

Access

From Mammoth, drive north on Hwy 77 to the town of Dudleyville. Turn left (west) on Dudleyville Road to the center of the community and locate San Pedro Road. Head west on San Pedro Road, where the road soon turns to dirt. Cross the San Pedro River (usually dry or very shallow) and then turn north at intersection and follow road north along the river (Camino Rio) for 0.5 mile. Turn left (west) on Freeman Road. Cross railroad tracks and continue for 12 miles to the trailhead.


Northern Access Point: Kelvin-Riverside Bridge

Access

From the town of Superior, take AZ 177 south for 15.2 miles (MP 152.1) and turn south onto Florence-Kelvin Highway (next to RR crossing) for 1.2 miles through the community of Kelvin and cross the Kelvin Bridge. Passage 15 approaches the bridge from below the rock outcrop along the Gila River and ends at the south end of the old bridge. Parking is limited here since the new bridge was completed in 2018. Ample parking is available at the Florence-Kelvin Trailhead ~1.5 miles further west on the Florence-Kelvin Highway. Another option is the BLM trailhead at the end of Centurion Road (one-half mile into the passage northbound). Either location provides easy access to the Arizona Trail .

From Florence, drive 1.5 miles south on AZ 79 and turn left (east) on the dirt Florence-Kelvin Highway. Continue 31 miles to the town of Kelvin and a historic bridge over the Gila River.

From the town of Hayden/Winkleman, drive northwest on AZ 177 about 16 miles then south (left) toward Kelvin. Continue 1.2 miles to the bridge.


Trail Route Description

From the Freeman Road Trailhead the route follows sinuous singletrack and occasional doubletrack roads through a remote corner of Arizona. It goes under some high-tension powerlines, crosses two two-track roads and then crosses a gasline road. It then turns to the west, crosses a large wash and begins following a fenceline. After going through a gate the trail turns to the northwest and passes by a large pile of erratic granite boulders. From here the trail continues through the desert, crossing several washes, another road and gate, just above Tecolote Ranch Road. After crossing this road the trail keeps to the north, crosses under powerlines and joins a road. It follows this road for almost 2 miles and then heads overland before joining another road. From here the trail turns north, passes several road junctions and climbs to a gate on a hill. The trail descends down the northeast side of this hill and then follows a drainage to a road. After leaving the road the trail descends down to Ripsey Wash, follows it for a ways and then turns into a side canyon and begins climbing up the Big Hill. After switchbacking around the hill the trail heads north-northwest along a ridgeline. It turns to the east and then back due north, and then starts a long descent. After crossing several washes the trail reaches the Florence-Kelvin Trailhead. It crosses the highway and heads in a north-northeast direction. After crossing a large wash it curves around and down to the Kelvin Bridge and the Gila River.


Difficulty

  • Moderate

Season(s)


Water

Water sources are very limited along this passage. Plan to bring your own water. All man made waters tanks and sources can only be used with the consent of the owner.


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.
  • Please respect all livestock operations in this area. Close all gates along the trail.
  • For a bit of local history, download the January 1931 Arizona Historical Review from http://hdl.handle.net/10150/623320 and see “The Escape of the Apache Kid” by Mertice Bruce Knox, page 77.

Resources

  • USGS Topographic Maps: Black Mountain, Crozier Peak, Kearny and Grayback.
  • BLM Information Center maps.

For more information


Current Passage Info

The Wild, Wild West

BACKPACKER Magazine (May/June 2019) by Ryan Wichelns We talk about solitude like its last bastions are disappearing. But there's a place where isolation still rules and evidence of the last travelers is erased before the next ones arrive. You just have to head west to the vast wilds held by the Bureau of Land Management. There are few permits, fewer fees, and next to no people. It's all the solitude you can handle--and sometimes just a little more. For 800 miles, the Arizona Trail charges across its namesake, serving up equal parts desert glory and mountain grandeur. Within that, the BLM manages 45 lonely, dust-caked miles just east of Phoenix that pack in all the splendor but none of the crowds. And, according to the trailhead register, there's an average of just five visitors a day. Echo-o-o-o-o-o-o! To read the rest of the article, click here.
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Flickr Photos

Photos from the Arizona Trail Association’s Flickr galleries, for this specific passage. View the entire Flickr account.

[AFG_gallery id=’16’]