Pets allowed
Elevation Gain
8,477.00 ft (2,583.79 m)
Trail type
38.30 mi (61.64 km)
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The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail spans some 3,100 miles across 5 states from Mexico to Canada. The trail travels through the Rocky Mountains, exploring a vast array of different environments and landscapes along the way. The New Mexico portion of the trail features 820 miles of diverse hiking from the desolate Chihuahuan Desert in the south, to the unique Canyons of the Gila River, to the Rocky Mountains in the north. Exploring the Continental Divide Trail can be done as a single thru hike that will take 4-6 months, or by section hiking smaller segments. In this guide we’ll look at part 2 of the Gila River Alternate (from Doc Campbell’s Post to Snow Lake).

From Doc Campbell’s Post continue walking the paved road toward Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Continue straight all the way to the Gila Visitor Center and the Middle Fork Trailhead. You’ll then hop on the Middle Fork Trail (#157) and follow it all the way upstream until you ultimately veer off to Snow Lake.

As you hike upstream the stunning canyons of the Middle Fork only get better. Towering canyon walls and fascinating hoodoo formations will have you stopping for photos around each bend. Unfortunately wet feet are a constant due to the numerous river crossings.

One “must stop” destination along this stretch is Jordan Hot Springs. Be sure to keep an eye open for the unmarked (but well traveled) path to the right that will lead to the hot spring. There is also good camping around this area.

As you continue on you’ll have more stunning canyon views, but the trail becomes a bit easier to lose in areas. The closer you get to Snow Lake you’ll begin to enter more forested areas and have fewer river crossings, although there are a couple of semi-deep crossings thanks to some beaver dams.

Eventually you’ll come to the junction of Snow Canyon Trail (#142) which you’ll follow as it climbs up to Snow Lake. Follow the trail as it circles around to the left of the lake before coming to a campground area. This marks the end of part 2 of the Gila River Alternate.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Stunning hiking through the Middle Fork Canyons of the Gila River. Hot springs.


Constant wet feet.

Trailhead Elevation

5,662.00 ft (1,725.78 m)

Highest point

7,407.00 ft (2,257.65 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Geologically significant
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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