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Schell Canyon Trail - # 316

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Hiking this woodland wilderness trail could be described as a double-barreled experience. First, you'll pass some marvelous scenery along the access route to the trailhead. Then there is the rugged canyon, native trout fishing and picturesque campsites that Schell Canyon Trail (# 316) itself provides access to in the Bear Wallow Wilderness. Click here for printable information and map.

As with all Wilderness and Primitive Area trails, the Schell Canyon Trail is open to hiking and horseback riding, but all types of motorized and mechanized travel are prohibited.

First, you'll pass some marvelous scenery along the access route to the trailhead. Then there is the rugged canyon, native trout fishing and picturesque campsites that Schell Canyon Trail itself provides access to in the Bear Wallow Wilderness.

To get to the Schell Canyon trailhead you must travel about 3 miles of the Rose Spring Trail (# 309). That trail follows the dramatic 1,500 foot escarpment that forms the southern edge of the Colorado Plateau. The view that this prodigious dropoff offers of the canyons and mountains to the south is one of the most expansive in Arizona. After thrilling you with those magnificent overlooks, the Schell Trail takes you into the heart of the Bear Wallow Wilderness.

Within this 11,000 acre area you'll pass through an alpine forest of mixed conifers and aspens as the trail leaves the rim and begins dropping into the Bear Wallow drainage. Tall ponderosa pines and canyon hardwoods shade the South Fork of Bear Wallow Creek, which the trail crisscrosses on its way to the floor of the main canyon. Schell Canyon Trail ends at its junction with Bear Wallow Trail (# 63), from which point you can return the way you came (and get another look at those views) or continue down Bear Wallow Creek where a number of streamside campsites provide excellent prospects for an overnight camp or an extended stay.

A little-used and unmaintained spur of Schell Canyon Trail leads up the South Fork of Bear Wallow Creek providing opportunities for further exploration in that direction. Even more variations on this same hike are possible if you set up a shuttle or leave a mountain bike at either the Bear Wallow, Reno (#62), or Gobbler Point (# 59) trailheads. Then you can return by way of those trails to put together a loop hike of about the same length as a down and back hike along Schell Trail.

The ride between Rose Spring trailhead and the Bear Wallow Trail is 10 miles, to Gobbler Point it's 15 miles. 

Trail Log:

  • 0.0 Junction with Rose Spring Trail, passes through gate
  • 0.6 Drops into Schell Canyon Drainage.
  • 2.3 Confluence of Schell Canyon and South Fork of Bear Wallow Creek.
  • 2.8 Junction with Bear Wallow Trail (# 63) at confluence of north and south forks of Bear Wallow Creek.

USGS Maps: Baldy Bill

At a Glance

Usage: Light
Best Season: May through October
Water: Water runs year-round in both the South Fork and the mainstem of Bear Wallow Creek.
Information Center: Alpine Ranger District
(928) 339-5000
TTY: (928) 339-4566

General Information

Latitude: 33.578

Longitude: -109.477

Length: 2.8 miles

Elevation: 7,500 feet - 8,620 feet

Directions:

Drive south on Hwy. 191 approximately 29 miles to Forest Road (FR) 54. Head 5.9 miles west on FR 54 to a fork in the road. Proceed through the gate along the right fork about 0.6 mile to the end of the road at the Rose Springs Trailhead. Rose Spring Trail begins 20 yards below the parking area at a signed gate in the fence. Follow this trail about 3 miles to the junction marked by a sign where Schell Canyon Trail branches off to the north.

Schell Canyon Trail is also accessible from Bear Wallow Trail at the bottom of Bear Wallow Canyon. Campers along that stream use the trail for a scenic day hike to the Mogollon Rim and back.


General Notes:

Water runs year-round in both the South Fork and the mainstem of Bear Wallow Creek.

This trail was completely reconstructed in 1988 and 1989 by two Sierra Club service trips and one American Hiking Society volunteer vacation trip.

Elevation desc  

8,620 feet to 7,500 feet

Usage: This trail was completely reconstructed in 1988 and 89 by two Sierra Club Service Trips and one American Hiking Society volunteer vacation trip.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate to Difficult

 


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