It is a walk back in time to visit the ruins of Fort Bowie. History is best learned in the moment. It is so much easier to imagine what life was like when you are physically standing in front of the ruins from over a hundred years ago.
But as amazing as the ruins themselves are, the ride home is the icing on the cake. Ultimately, you make a loop, and you return on a different trail than you rode in on. While it is a little bit technical, it isn’t bad. AllTrails lists total mileage as slightly less than 5 miles.
The Visitor’s Center was closed when we were there. However, the flush toilets were available! (I should also mention that there are very well-maintained pit toilets at the trailhead and parking area.) The Visitor’s Center has a museum and gift shop as well.
Amazing views after a somewhat steep climb
The trail leaving the fort is accessed behind the Visitor’s Center. It climbs a rocky hill. The views at the top are incredible. The fort is visible below you. Additionally, one can see Apache Pass through the mountains, a route used by the Overland Stage and all other foot and horse traffic.
After reaching the summit of the hill, you wind your way down on easy switchbacks. This portion of the trail is fairly rocky. Eventually, you find yourself back on the standard Arizona desert mountain trail… The wind continues to blow, but the scenery is beautiful. (Side note… it has been crazy windy here in our part of Arizona for the past few weeks.)
There is a fun little rock bridge that you cross both ways. It isn’t far from the beginning of the trail. Sadie jigged her way across it. Watch for it at the end of the first video! Also, listen to the wind in the second video. Dress warmly unless it is the middle of summer!
After filling your heads with Fort Bowie’s history in the past three blogs, the best way to describe the return trail is to show you. Our guide and riding partner, Jim, shot GoPro footage of our experience. I also shot some videos, as well as photos. I hope you have the opportunity to experience this amazing place yourself someday.