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Whiterocks via North Mesa

Intermediate
 4.0 (1) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A challenging day run to the Whiterocks formation giving excellent views of the Gila Wilderness backcountry.


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Map Key

12.8

Miles

20.5

KM

94%

Runnable

6,891' 2,100 m

High

5,671' 1,728 m

Low

1,295' 395 m

Up

1,296' 395 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

23%

Max Grade (13°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Hot Spring · Views · Wildlife

Overview

This trail leads to a unique formation of rocks (the "Whiterocks") which are located on a ridge at the head of a pleasant valley just north of the North Mesa. Ascending onto the Whiterocks formation you get an excellent view east to the Black Range as well as the mountain ranges to the north and south.

Need to Know

Because of the lack of water outside the river canyons of the various forks of the Gila River, the Whiterocks tanks (actually ponds) at the entrance of the valley leading up to the Whiterocks formation are a magnet for deer, antelope and elk. This also makes this a prime mountain lion location. Be prepared to encounter one. I encountered one on a day hike (from far away) and one backpacking (came into my camp and made it clear it was not interested in sharing it's valley).

Description

The trail starts behind the Gila Visitor Center (not at the road's end near the cliff dwellings). Follow the Middle Fork Gila River Trail #157 for approximately 2 miles until it intersects with trail #27. Follow trail #27 out of the river canyon and up to North Mesa in a northeast direction. Once on North Mesa trail #27 will intersect with trail #804.

Continue in a northwest direction on trail #27 instead of continuing northeastward on trail #804. At the southern end of the valley which has the Whiterocks formation at its head (near the Whiterocks water tanks) you have two options:
1) continue northwest on trail #27 until it intersects trail #771, follow trail #771 northeastward until you are on the ridge which contains the Whiterocks formation or
2) take off cross country up the valley straight towards the Whiterocks formation (the valley is grassland with sparse pinyon pines throughout).

Flora & Fauna

Deer, elk antelope and even mountain lions are commonly seen.

Contacts

Shared By:

Chris S

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 1 vote

#4109

Overall
  4.0 from 1 vote
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Recommended Route Rankings

#53

in New Mexico

#4,109

Overall
4 Views Last Month
15 Since May 6, 2021
Intermediate

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Photos

View south from on top of Whiterocks formation (12-31-2011)
May 6, 2021 near Arenas…, NM
View northwest from trail on final ascent to North Mesa showing canyon that contains Middle Fork Gila River (12-26-2006)
May 6, 2021 near Arenas…, NM
Whiterocks formation looking east towards the Black Range (12-31-2011)
May 6, 2021 near Arenas…, NM
Elk herd on North Mesa (12-26-2006)
May 6, 2021 near Arenas…, NM
Hot springs along Middle Fork trail approximately one mile from trailhead (12-26-2006)
May 6, 2021 near Arenas…, NM

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