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Hike #37 – Wenima Wildlife Area

Wenima Wildlife Area
Cabin at Wenima Wildlife Area

Location: From the Pinetop Post Office on SR 260 (map):

  • Drive east on 260 to Eagar, a distance of 42.8 miles, and turn left at the traffic signal on 180/191.
  • Drive 1.6 miles north to the traffic signal and T intersection with SR 60.
  • Turn left and drive 3.1 miles on 60 west towards Show Low and turn right on 180/191 toward St. John.
  • Drive only about 100 yards and turn right on Hooper Ranch Road. This gravel road passes through open fields and dives down into the Little Colorado River valley.
  • After 1.3 miles on the gravel road from 180/191, you will see a parking area with restrooms and bulletin boards on the right. Park here.

Trail: There are two options: one (dotted green line) requires you to walk over fields and cut weeds in the ruts of a large farm tractor for part of the way. The other option (solid green line) is a trail of gravel and dirt on a dike nearer the river.

Trailhead and Directions: If you wish to cross through the fields, find the gate across the street from the parking area, duck under the bar, and follow the ruts of the farm tractor to the north. This route will take you three-quarters of the way towards the northernmost destination. It will peter out and you will have to bushwhack through the weeds to the right (east) towards the river where you will find the gravel trail. If you wish to just hike out and back on the gravel trail, walk southeast on Hooper Ranch Road about 100 yards to find a picnic area under a large tree on the left. The trailhead is at the back of the picnic area and runs north paralleling the river.

Access: Hiking, bicycling, and possibly horseback, but we have seen no evidence of horses on the gravel trail. No motorized vehicles. Not handicapped accessible. The area is managed by the Arizona Department of Game and Fish. Hunting is allowed in season.

Basalt Ledge Above the Wenima Trail
Basalt Ledge Above the Wenima Trail

Distance: A round trip from the parking area to the cabin to the north is about 1.6 miles.

Difficulty: The walk across the meadow is somewhat difficult depending on when the last time the area was cut. The walk along the gravel trail by the river is relatively easy as it is mostly on the level. You have to squeeze through three hairpin gates that were installed to prevent cows from crossing into other pastures. The area and trails are mostly in the open so be prepared for lots of hot sun.

Features: The trail runs between a high rock escarpment to the northwest and the Little Colorado River to the east. The meadow trail crosses open weed fields and areas covered with Annual Sunflowers. Other plants are ragweed, vetch, geranium, cone flowers, field bindweed, wild rose, woodbine, and other species. There are several very large walnut trees along the way, also narrowleaf cottonwoods, and box elder. The whole trail by the river is bordered by 12-foot high coyote or narrowleaf willow. The river can be viewed from time to time where there are beaver dams and muskrats. You may see White Mountain Ground Squirrels, Mule Deer, and Cottontail Rabbits. Birds include Blue Grosbeak, American Robin, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lesser Goldfinch, Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark, Mourning Dove, American Kestrel, Red-tailed Hawk, and occasionally Mallards and Cinnamon Teal, Great Blue Herons, Black Phoebe, Willow Flycatcher, and other birds in season. At the northern most limit of this walk is an old farm house with outbuildings and a windmill. There is a gravel road leading down to the buildings from high on the escarpment and the historic buildings are cared for by the State. As you drive in and out of the area on the gravel road, look for Western Kingbirds, Vesper Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, and possibly introduced California Quail.

Connections: There is a trail to the south accessed from the parking area. We have not hiked that so can give you no information.

Wenima Wildlife Area_Map Trail Map
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