Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mcknight Canyon- Gila National Forest

We hiked here one fall quite a few years ago. I suspect it hasn't changed much though. The trailhead is about 7 miles down  FR 151. If you read my previous blog about this road, don't worry, you'll be parking before the going gets really horrendous. There is a small sign indicating a trail at the turn off and that's about it  I believe. Officially the trail is FT 92.  We hiked down the sunny canyon side on a very steep pitch. The lack of shade and elevation gain were not super fun on the return.When we got down to the shady green  stream bottom,we could see a couple on the other side of the creek in the midst of putting their clothes back on. We paused a minute before making our presence known and then continued along trail in the very narrow( similar to the wilderness reach of it's parent stream, the Mimbres,  but smaller) canyon. There was canyon grape growing in abundance in places, and the oaks were changing color. In one rocky section we spied some good sized Gila Trout in a deep pool( Mcknight's population of Gilas are still off limits to fishing at this time). Eventually the  streamside became very lush with willows and grass, to where we could no longer find a trail. At some point the dense willow growth became nuisance to continuing at all, with or without a trail- so we turned around. On maps I know that this trail appears to continue  all the way to the crest of the Black Range- but it seems likely that it becomes a cross country bushwack further along from where we stopped. Don't let that discourage you, though, because it's a beautiful place.Update: Although I have not  hiked it recently it seems very likely that this hike has been seriously affected by the Silver Fire and it's aftermath in  2013. The canyon has flooded numerous times since then and ash has extirpated the population of Gila Trout.

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