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U.S. Forest Service

Southwestern Region Viewing Area


Map displaying the route to the Catwalk Canyon area.

the catwalk, a walkway above the stream, in the narrowest part of Whitewater Canyon. This is the narrowest part of Whitewater Canyon. The walkway above the stream is called the Catwalk. Photo source: U.S. Forest Service.

Arizona sycamore. Arizona sycamore is a prominent component of this riparian forest. Photo source: © 2005, Matt Chamberlain.

canyon maple leaves. The canyon maple of the Southwest is very similar to sugar maple and produces the same brilliant fall colors. Photo source: CalPhotos, Credit: © 2005, Bob Sivinski.

Catwalk Riparian Forest

Forest: Gila National Forest

District: Glenwood Ranger District

Description: The Catwalk is an elevated walkway up Whitewater Canyon that follows the route of a former water pipeline that served the 1890s mining town of Graham. The Civilian Conservation Corps built the Catwalk in the 1930s as a recreational trail. It has been rebuilt several times since and parts of the trail were upgraded for handicapped access in 2003.

For plant lovers, this is an easily accessible example of a mature Southwestern riparian forest. Giant Arizona sycamores (Platanus wrightii) greet you as you enter the picnic area. These trees are shorter and more twisted than eastern sycamores (P. occidentalis), but this just adds to their charm. Other common riparian trees are narrow-leaved cottonwood (Populus angustifolia), Arizona alder (Alnus oblongifolia), Arizona walnut (Juglans major), box elder (Acer negundo), and canyon maple (Acer grandidentatum var. sinuosum). Visitors from the eastern United States may recognize many of these trees as sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, etc., but not know that most of them are uniquely adapted Southwestern species distinct from their Eastern relatives.

The Catwalk Trail is 1.3 miles one way. A more primitive trail continues up the canyon and there are several side trails leading out of Whitewater Canyon that can be accessed from State Highway 159 that goes through the mining ghost town of Mogollon.

Safety First: If you hike any of the trails in Whitewater Canyon, take a pack with protective clothing, compass, map, flashlight, first aid kit, water, and food.

Directions: From Silver City, New Mexico, go north on U.S. Highway 180 to the Village of Glenwood (60 miles), then east on State Highway 174 for about 5 miles. The highway ends at the Catwalk Recreation Area, which has toilets, water, and picnic facilities.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Gila National Forest, Glenwood Ranger District (505) 539-2481.

Closest Town: Glenwood, New Mexico.