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BLM > Arizona > What We Do > National Conservation Lands > Arizona National Scenic Trail > Gila River Canyons
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Gila River Canyons Trail
Gila River Canyons PassageDescription

This beautiful section of the Arizona National Scenic Trail is popular with mountain bikers, day hikers and equestrians. The southern terminus of the segment begins at the Kelvin Bridge as it crosses the Gila River. The trail then follows the Gila River for many miles - sometimes rising several hundred feet above and sometimes near river level. It crosses numerous canyon drainages and occasionally catches a glimpse of The Spine, Walnut Canyon Narrows, Copper Butte, and The Rincon, all to the north. 

The trailhead is located approximately 70 miles southeast of Phoenix, 45 miles southeast of Mesa, and about seven miles south of Superior in Pinal County.

To reach the northern trailhead From Phoenix, travel east on Highway 60 to the Florence Junction, continue east to Superior, then travel south on State Route 177 to Battle Axe Road.

To reach the southern trailhead from Tucson, travel north on Oracle Highway (Highway 89) to Oracle Junction, then northeast on State Route 77 to Winkelman, then north on State Route 177 toward Superior. From State Route 177 turn left on the Kelvin-Florence Highway. Parking is available at the Kelvin bridge or turning right on an access road on the north side of the Gila River to the BLM trailhead.

Visitor Activities
Opportunities include, mountain biking, hiking, sightseeing, wildlife viewing, geology and nature study, primitive camping, hunting, photography. Since the trail was constructed, the trail has become one of the most highly rated backcountry mountain bike rides in Arizona.

Special Features
Desert bighorn sheep were introduced in the vicinity in 2003 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The herd is reproducing and occupying suitable habitat, and may be sighted in the rugged uplands.

Permits, Fees, Limitations
No permits are required for private, non-commercial use. 
The Kelvin Bridge trailhead is fully accessible by passenger vehicle. A high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended to reach the Battle Ax Road trailhead. Roads in the area are frequently washed out by summer rains and flash floods, always proceed with caution. 

The trail is unimproved and not accessible to persons with limited mobility or other impairments without assistance.

Camping and Lodging
Primitive camping is allowed on public lands. A small, primitive camping area is available near the trailhead. No facilities are available on-site. Lodging is available at hotels in nearby towns of Florence, Superior, and Kearny.
Food and Supplies
Basic food and services are available at nearby towns of Florence, Superior or Kearny.
First Aid
The nearest emergency care is available in Globe at the Cobre Valley Community Hospital.
Additional Information
Battle Axe Road crosses private land; Arizona State Trust land is found adjacent to the Wilderness. Please respect private property rights by not stopping on private and state lands unless a permit is obtained from the Arizona State Land Department. A recreational permit from the Arizona State Land Department is required for recreational use of State Trust Lands and a license is required for hunting or fishing.

Visitor Information

For Kids

Other Sections of the Trail 


Background & History