Hellsgate Wilderness


In the upper part of Hellsgate Wilderness
In the upper part of Hellsgate Wilderness
Hellsgate Wilderness

Hellsgate Wilderness contains 37,440 acres located at the edge of the Mogollon Rim, centered around a major canyon with a perennial stream flowing through, fed by several tributaries. Trails in the wilderness are rare and travel through the bottom of the canyon along the stream beds will require crossing multiple deep pools of water often separated by impassable waterfalls. Elevations vary from a low of about 3,000 feet where Tonto Creek emerges from the wilderness to a high around 6,400 feet on Horse Mountain. Groups are limited to a maximum of 15 people with a maximum of 15 total stock animals (like stock animals are going to travel though this maze of continually descending box canyons). However, there are a couple trails that people and stock animals can traverse reasonably easily (as indicated on the trail map below). The area that says "Hell's Gate," though, doesn't allow livestock because of it's relative inaccessibility and the negative impact livestock would have on that section of the canyon.

When I was a teenager, I went camping at Christopher Creek (above the upper rim of Hell's Gate Canyon) with some friends. One day we decided to follow the creek south for a ways and see what we'd find. The going quickly got rough and we soon found ourselves in the bottom of a nasty box canyon, looking at waterfalls like the one on the left to climb back out over. It's an experience I remember well, almost fifty years later. It's not an experience I recommend other people try...

Hellsgate Wilderness
In the bottom of Hellsgate Wilderness
Hellsgate Wilderness
Tonto Creek in Hellsgate Wilderness
Trail map of Hellsgate Wilderness
Hellsgate Wilderness trail map