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recreation and vacation travel

Safford-Morenci Trail

The trail is 23 miles long one way, with an elevation range of 3,700 to 6,200 feet. It winds through the rugged canyons of the Gila Mountains and Turtle Mountain.With the exception of Bonita Creek, streams and springs are scarce along the route. Follow bear and mountain lion country precautions as these creatures are becoming more common along Bonita Creek. The creek's clear, cool water is inviting for a soak, but must be treated before drinking due to human, cattle, and wildlife activity upstream. Carry plenty of drinking water with you. Few people travel this remote route and it remains difficult to follow because it crosses land of mixed ownership. You will need topo maps and a compass to hike this moderate to difficult trail. The best time to hike is fall through the spring months because there is little water and shade. Snow is possible in the high elevations during the winter months.
Directions: The West Trailhead near Bear Springs is about 12 miles northeast of Safford on the San Juan Mine road. To reach this road, take 8th Avenue north out of Safford. A half mile after crossing the bridge, take the right fork on Airport Road. Drive 1.2 mile, then turn left onto the San Juan Mine Road. Follow the main road until it turns left away from Phelps Dodge's locked gate. Continue straight, following the road another 6-7 miles, passing by the San Juan mine pit on your right and eventually West Ranch on your left. The ranch house is a faded green. The trailhead is another several miles beyond West Ranch. A 4WD high clearance vehicle is required to access this trailhead.To reach the East Trailhead (6 air miles west of Morenci), take the Lower Eagle Creek/Black River Road off of Highway 191, just north of Morenci. The turnoff is about a quarter mile past a historic hillside cemetery on your right. Take the left into what appears to be a dirt parking area. The Eagle Creek road begins there. You will need to ford Eagle Creek just below the water pipeline at the ranch house, continue on for about another 4 miles. The trailhead is signed. Although the Lower Eagle Creek/Black River Road is maintained gravel, the river crossing may require a high clearance vehicle during high water events.

Safford-Morenci Trail
Safford Field Office
711 14th Avenue
Safford, AZ, USA
(928) 348-4400
Official Website
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Land Management
 • Hiking
 • Wildlife Viewing

Other Arizona Vacation Destinations

Discover America: Arizona
State Flag of Arizona Learn more about Arizona, its history, and resources from the Discover America feature from NCBuy Travel.

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