Most backcountry regions I’ve hiked or backpacked in have at least one bear wallow, a wet, boggy place where black bears wallow in mud to rid themselves of vermin or to fend off biting insects. Pioneer settlers found so many wallows along this tributary creek of the Black River that they named it Bear Wallow Creek. And in 1984, more than 11,000 acres of the territory surrounding it became the Bear Wallow Wilderness. Bordered on the west by the San Carlos Indian Reservation, on the south by the rugged Mogollon Rim, and with the Blue Range Primitive Area lying only a few miles to the east, the Bear Wallow Wilderness lies amid some of the most truly wild terrain in Arizona.
The centerpiece of the wilderness is Bear Wallow Creek itself. Lined with Arizona ash, oak, box elder, and alder and flowing year round, the creek provides habitat for the native Apache trout, the survival of which is threatened by habitat degradation and hybridizing with rainbow trout. Conservation efforts to protect the Apache trout include the construction of stream barriers along Bear Wallow Creek to prevent the upstream migration of rainbows. This trail guide covers an area with 18 miles of trails.
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