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Backpacking The Gila Wilderness, NM - Thru Hiking on...

The Southwest Backpacker Follow
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  • 8 years ago
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MAY 20 - 26, 2012 --- The Gila Wilderness (pronounced: HEE-La) was designated the world's first wilderness area on June 3, 1924. Along with Aldo Leopold Wilderness and Blue Range Wilderness, the 558,014 acres (2,258.2 km2) wilderness is part of New Mexico's Gila National Forest. The wilderness is approximately 27 miles (43 km) from north to south and 39 miles (63 km) from east to west. The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is found within the wilderness.

The Gila Wilderness is located in southwest New Mexico, north of Silver City and wrapping around Reserve. It contains the West Fork, Middle Fork and much of the East Fork of the Gila River; riverside elevations of around 5,000 ft (1,500 m) are the lowest in the wilderness. The Mogollon Mountains traverse an arc across the southwest of the wilderness. The tallest peak within this range, Whitewater Baldy at 10,895 ft (3,321 m) anchors the western point of the wilderness. At the northeast corner is Black Mountain at 9,287 ft (2,831 m).

This is part 3 of 4 of our thru hike into the Gila Wilderness via the Middle Fork Trail #157 which covers Day 5 and 6. Total mileage of the entire trip: 38 miles. Sadly, the wildfire that was burning just to the west of us, consumed over 267,000 acres of forest land and became New Mexico's biggest wildfire in our state's history. :(

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