North of Silver City, the West Fork Trail (#151) is a 33 mile hiking route from the Gila Cliff Dwellings to Willow Creek with elevations ranging from 5,700 feet to 8,300. The hiking trail follows the spectacular West Fork of the Gila River to near its source then completes a traverse of the Gila Wilderness. This is one of the hallmark trails of the Gila Wilderness. It follows the West Fork of the Gila River through a beautiful, deep, winding canyon with spectacular volcanic cliff formations. There are many river crossing per mile and boots that can be worn for wading are recommended. Many trails can be connected to cross the Gila Wilderness but #151 is one of only two trails that completely traverses the wilderness. The southern trail head is at the Gila Cliff Dwellings and the northern trail head is at Willow Creek. The trails that connect with #151 can be linked to make several very interesting loops through the interior of the wilderness. These loops provide opportunities for extended pack trips in quiet solitude and a wonderful variety of scenic canyon, mesa, and mountain terrain.
Trail 151 has a trailhead at the south and north boundaries of the wilderness. The southern trail head is at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument 1.5 miles from the Visitor Center. Follow NM 15 north from Silver City to the Monument. The travel time is 1 hour, 45 min.
The second trail head is at Willow Creek on the north wilderness boundary. It may not be accessible in the early spring if forest roads are closed due to snow. From the town of Reserve follow Forest Road 141 then 28 to Willow Creek. Travel time about 1hour, 45 min. From the town of Glenwood follow NM 159 to Willow Creek. This road is not recommended for horse trailers. Travel time about 1 hour, 30 min. Check with the Reserve or Glenwood Ranger Districts for more information.
Overall, West Fork Trail is the 22nd most popular hiking trail of all 39 hikes in New Mexico.