Hellsgate Wilderness was established in 1984 and contains approximately 37,440 rough acres with a major canyon and perennial stream extending its entire length. Deep pools of water may be separated by impassable falls. Elevations range from 3,000 feet along the lower end of Tonto Creek to 6,400 feet on Horse Mountain. Spring and fall are ideal times to visit this area, however trails are rare and access is limited. The tiny area known as Hellsgate is not to be used by livestock due to inaccessibility and impacts.
A group size of no more than 15 people and no more than 15 head of pack or saddle animals of any type is enforced within this area yearlong.
Bear Flat Trail #178
More Difficult – An old jeep trail that is very easy to follow, the first quarter mile after leaving the Bear Flat Trailhead is steep, but passing through an unexpected grove of mixed conifer rewards the visitor.
Mescal Ridge Trail #186
Easiest – Most of this route is an old jeep trail. An easy trail that works its ways south on Mescal Ridge (with excellent views of the countryside) to a stock tank located between Tonto Creek and Bull tank Canyon.
Pocket Trail #38
More Difficult– Most of this route is an old jeep trail, although it can be difficult to find and follow.
Hell's Gate Trail #37
MOST Difficult– While the hiker faces several moderate to steep climbs on the route to Hell’s Gate, the real challenge is getting back out.