Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
1,566.00 ft (477.32 m)
Trail type
8.25 mi (13.28 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Little Bear Canyon hike is a great choice for visitors in the Gila Cliff Dwellings area who are looking for a moderately difficult day hike. It can also be done as a short overnight trip. The hike passes through a sampling of different terrain before ultimately ending at the beautiful Middle Fork of the Gila River.

You’ll begin this hike from the TJ Corral Trailhead. Follow the Little Bear Canyon Trail (#729) staying to the right at the first junction. The trail then gradually ascends for the next mile or so. The terrain here is somewhat barren and exposed, with limited shade. Be sure to bring enough water if hiking on a hot summer day.

As you continue along through the scrubby desert landscape you’ll have great views. When you reach the junction with Trail #164, continue straight to stay on the Little Bear Canyon Trail. You’ll then soon begin your descent to the canyon.

As you descend the canyon becomes more and more scenic. Toward the end of the trail you’ll be walking through a narrow canyon with towering hoodoo cliffs on both sides. Be aware that flash floods can happen in this area.

The trail then ends at the Gila River. The Middle Fork Canyon is stunningly beautiful, and there is a large area perfect for camping here. You can choose to extend the hike if you wish (Jordan Hot Springs is a worthwhile destination) or return the way you came back to the TJ Corral Trailhead.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass


Open Year-round



Scenic canyon with hoodoo formations. Ends at beautiful Gila River. Camping options.


First stretch is through hot and dry desert terrain.

Trailhead Elevation

5,675.00 ft (1,729.74 m)

Highest point

6,367.00 ft (1,940.66 m)


Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Family friendly
Big vistas
Geologically significant

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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