White Mountains Online

Black River Corridor 


Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

Hiking Horseback Riding Mountain Biking Cross Country skiing Snowmobiles

Black River Corridor

Trails in the Black River Corridor all end up at the same place-along the river. That should come to no surprise, this picturesque mountain stream is one of the most popular recreation destinations in the state. The Black River area is so outstanding it has been recommended for Wild and Scenic River designation by the U.S. Forest Service and has been included in a citizens' proposal currently being considered by Congress.

As special as this place is, however, once people get here at least some of them find themselves saying, "It's really beautiful but how can I get to a place where I can have all to myself." In this section of the guide we have outlined a few trails that do that. Some trails are actually fisherman's paths that follow the banks of the river from popular access points to areas that can only be reached on foot. The Three Forks to Diamond Rock Route is one such trail. So are riverside paths in the Lower Black River Corridor that lead up or downstream from Buffalo Crossing and Wildcat Bridge.

Other trails lead to hard reach areas along the river from roads that end at the canyon rim. Of these, the Fish Creek Trail is the only one that is developed and maintained. Additional routes kept open more by frequent use than regular maintenance lead to the river from roads leading to McKibbons Pond and the Kettle Hole area. Still another type of access is provided by paths that follow the banks of Bear Creek and Centerfire Creek to their confluences with the Black.

The great majority of the people who use these trails are on their way to the river to fish for the rainbow trout stocked there. But that doesn't mean fishing is the only reason to come here. The Black River enjoys a reputation as one of the most scenic streams in the southwest. Finding a secluded spot along its banks where you can enjoy the unmatched scenery and listen to the water bubbling through the riffles is an experience well worth the hike it takes to get to it. In the spring, experienced kayakers and rafters use some of these trails to get to one of the best kept whitewater secrets in the southwest.

While you're enjoying those great views of tumbling water and tall trees, you'll want to keep on eye out for some of the rare and interesting animals that inhabit this backcountry canyon. Many of the species who live here are typical of mountainous areas in Arizona. Others are not so typical. No matter how many times you see an elk or mule deer, there's always a feeling of excitement when it happens, but along the Black River you also stand a chance of seeing a Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. That's a sight that is quite rare in Arizona, where the great majority of the wild sheep are Desert Bighorns. These sheep were transplanted into the Blue Range by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in the late 70's. Some of those sheep have migrated to the Black.

The Black River was also one of the last places in the state where you could see a river otter. These playful water creatures are believed to have been extirpated from this area, but it isn't impossible that one or two many have managed to hold out deep in the canyon. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to see one.

Take Care

Any place as beautiful as this is going to attract enough visitors to put in danger of being loved to death. But there's no love in littering or destroying vegetation, no matter how far from trash dumpsters of forest rangers you are. If you were interested enough in this area to come and visit it, we shouldn't have to convince you to take good care of it. Please do your best to leave only footprints and take only memories from this unique and fragile area. Follow the practice of "No Trace" camping and take special care to avoid damaging the streamside habitat that makes the Black River such a beautiful and enjoyable place.

For more information or current information on trail conditions, please feel free to contact the USDA Forest Service, Alpine Ranger District at P.O. Box 469, Alpine AZ, 85920, (928) 339-4384
White Mountains Online wishes to express our appreciation to the USDA Forest Service, Alpine District for providing this information!