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Gila National Forest & Gila Wilderness, New Mexico – Volunteer Vacations 2022

May 15 - May 21

Trip Navigation

This project will involve trail work along Gilita Creek in the Gila Wilderness. This accessible yet wild creek has lots to offer: varied ecosystems including mixed conifer and ponderosa forests, a fishable creek, beaver dams and the feeling of remoteness. The 6-mile Gilita creek trail is sandwiched between 2 Forest Service campgrounds, Dipping Vat and Willow Creek Campgrounds. This means many people enjoy the trail as a out and back or through trail with a shuttle. Despite its closeness to a gravel road, the trail and canyon feel very remote and pristine. It is a part of the Gila Wilderness, the first designated wilderness, which will be 100 years old in 2024.

Sadly, this well loved trail was severely damaged by a flood in 2013 after a major fire upstream. Trail work in 2021 improved 3 miles of this 6 miles trail, 1.5 miles on each end. The middle 3 miles were improved just enough to make it passable. But we want those 3 miles to be enjoyable! Volunteers will work on projects including brushing, tread work, removing logs with hand saws, building cairns and moving rocks out of the trail. The terrain is gentle and the hike to the trail work will be half the fun. Plan to hike up to 7 miles during the day. Bringing water shoes is recommended: your feet will be wet since there are many river crossings, which can be refreshing on a warmer day! There will be a commute in personal vehicles to the worksite each day. Some days will be a 5 minute commute to the Gilita Creek Trailhead, and some days will be a 30 minute commute to provide better access as the crew makes progress along the trail.

AHS acknowledges with gratitude that this project takes place on the traditional lands of the Pueblos and Chiricahua Apache peoples past and present. We honor the land itself, the Indigenous communities who have stewarded this land for generations, and those who continue to steward these lands today. AHS invites all volunteers to join us in our commitment to support and amplify the work of Indigenous communities as they work to dismantle the systems of oppression that these communities continue to face today.

 

Host

Gila Chapter Back Country Horsemen of New Mexico

Accommodations

Car Camping Tent Sites

Hiking/Access

Day hiking up to 7 miles each work day.

Project Rating

Strenuous

Minimum Volunteer Age

19

Maximum Group Size

10

Area and Attractions

This trail is located in the Gila Wilderness - the first Congressionally designated wilderness in the United States! The Gila, Aldo Leopold, and Blue Range Wildernesses offer unparalleled hiking and horseback riding. Fishing is also popular, and accessible with a fishing permit. The magnificence of these mountainous regions imparts an indescribable feeling of awe and wonderment. Former Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas may have captured the feeling when he said, "Wilderness helped preserve man's capacity for wonder...the power to feel, if not see, the miracles of life, of beauty, and of harmony around us." There are other Gila Wilderness trails to explore near the Ben Lilly Campground and many more within a 45 minute drive. Many of these trails offer an expansive view of the entire Gila Wilderness.

Accommodations Description

Volunteers will stay at car camping tent sites in the Gila Wilderness. Pit toilets are located in the campground area. There are picnic tables are at each campsite. The host will provide a portable camp shower and kitchen set up with a shade structure over the kitchen. Volunteers need to supply their own tent and personal camping gear including sleeping bag, towels, and personal cup/bowl/mug/eating utensils. Please contact volunteer@americanhiking.org for assistance with gear needs.

Travel

Albuquerque International Sunport in Albuquerque, New Mexico is the closest major airport. Airport pickup is not provided for this trip. Volunteers are responsible for transportation to and from camp and the work site. Carpooling can be arranged once the project is confirmed.

Location

Ben Lilly Campground
Willow Creek Ranch, Glenwood, NM 88039 United States + Google Map
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