register help
This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM, AZ

282 41 0
Guide 41 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Douglas
4.6 of 5 by 17
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,784 feet
Elevation Gain -544 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 6.02
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack No
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
9  2016-05-29 cindyl
25  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
22  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
25  2016-03-18
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
5  2015-10-17 DbleDutch
25  2014-10-21 winotron
32  2014-05-25 rwstorm
10  2012-02-18 John9L
Page 1,  2,  3
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct → Any
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:00am - 6:26pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Hoodoo u think u are?
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
This scenic loop hike at Chiricahua National Monument comprises three trails: Echo Canyon, Hailstone, and Ed Riggs. This description is of a counter clockwise loop, starting on the Echo Canyon Trail (the most impressive segment). It can be combined with other connecting trails in the Monument to create a longer hike. See the map for details.

At the Echo Canyon parking area, follow the trail that takes off behind the Echo Canyon Loop info sign. This trail soon splits into the Echo Canyon and Ed Riggs Trails. Take the Echo Canyon Trail, which heads southwest across the high, rocky mesa. Naturally sculpted stone hoodoos and balanced rocks begin to increase in both quantity and size, as the trail heads for the upper end of Echo Canyon. The first attraction you'll come to is the Echo Canyon Grotto, at around 0.5 miles. The Grotto is a stone hallway of sorts, worn between a grouping of large boulders. Soon after, the trail descends into Echo Canyon and a wonderland of enormous stone pillars. Some of the C.C.C.'s most impressive trail work is found here. At Wall Street, trail crews widened some existing fractures in the bedrock to create a narrow passageway through imposing hoodoos. This truly awesome stretch of trail comes to an end all too soon, beneath the towering pines at Echo Park.

Beyond Echo Park, the trail contours along through the forest, before arriving on an open ridge overlooking Rhyolite Canyon, at 1.5 miles. The Echo Canyon Trail ends at 1.6 miles, where it meets the Upper Rhyolite Canyon and Hailstone Trails. This loop follows the Hailstone Trail.

There is little elevation change on the Hailstone Trail, and this easy stretch affords fine views up and down Rhyolite Canyon. At 2.4 miles the Hailstone Trail ends at the Ed Riggs and Mushroom Rock Trails. Keep left and follow the Ed Riggs Trail, which gradually ascends a wooded ravine back to the top of the mesa.

At 3.1 miles you'll pass the junction with the spur trail to Massai Point. Stay on the Ed Riggs Trail, which soon arrives on top of the mesa and rejoins the Echo Canyon Trail. A short distance later the trail arrives back at the Echo Canyon trailhead/parking area.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2007-12-29 PrestonSands
  • guide related image
    guide related
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

Most recent of 16 deeper Triplog Reviews
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
It's been a while!
Still my all-time favorite SE playground.
Everything looked hoodoo great, except Echo Park ... what a mess.
Unbelievable amount of deer along Silver Spur (18-20) including 2 very nice bucks.
Big lightning cell hitting as I left.
Monument has been recovering well from the fire.
Shall be back ... this place rocks!
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Made the long drive out to Chiricahua for some Monument fun. First time in 4 years for me and first ever for Shauna. We started out on Ed Riggs Trail and went clockwise. Nice to see the area greening up, but burnt trees from the 2011 Horseshoe 2 Fire were still very noticeable. The Arizona Cypress saplings in Echo Park are getting big. Saw some minor wildflowers along the loop, some water in Echo Park, and a few others out hiking. We took a short cooling off break in a shady, breezy gap between hoodoos before finishing off the loop. I took note of the hills stretching off toward Cochise Head on the drive down, which still looked pretty desolate from the 2011 fire. Visiting the Monument for me is like seeing an old friend; always makes me smile. So nice to visit once again!
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
our friends went quadding, and we decided to head to massai point for a short hike. my favorite part was the "grotto" which was totally a fun place to play. there were a ton of people on the trail. lots of families with little ones and only one 20-oz bottle of water for the entire group. some slow moving tourists who couldn't keep their balance - loads of people that would never get a hiking license.
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
Up at 2:30a, home at 10:00pm, is close to the definition of a day hike.

Denny provided the impetus to get this one done. If he keeps reading his food book, we'll get to a lot of other new areas. :y:

We saw some of flocks of deer, including 2 dudes with nice racks on the way in. Also were treated to some Coatimundi while hiking. : :D :DANCE:

We were spoiled all day with perfect weather and pristinely groomed trails. Temps ranged from 50 to no more than 68, with a breeze.

We did a clockwise loop including side trips to Sugarloaf, Inspiration Point and Heart of Rocks Loop.

Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail, starts off this track in the pines with sneak peeks at the hoodoos.

Left on Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail and you start the climb to the fun.

Bypass Hailstone Trail and hit Echo Canyon Trail. This is the crème de la crème in the park. Here you are walking amungst the tall spires. Wow, just wow.
Echo Canyon Video :next: ... Dx1M

A hike up Sugarloaf Mountain Trail provides a great 360 overlook of the area.
Sugarloaf Mountain Video :next: ... WNjI

Ed Riggs Trail and Mushroom Rock Trail lead you to the next highlight side trip.

Inspiration Point Trail, is only a 1/2 mile one way. The destination packs some more incredible views.

Big Balanced Rock Trail leads you to..... duh.... how does it not fall over. After the geometry lesson the
amazing Heart of Rocks Loop is right there. Recommend doing this Clockwise for the views and to take advantage of the signage.
Big Balanced Rock & Heart of Rocks Loop :next: ... -slI

The Sara Demming Trail starts you back downhill. It was on this trail, in the tall pines, that we saw our swarm of Coatimundi. I found this to be an enjoyable wind down trail.

This ones a must do, if you haven't.....

Thanks for putting this together Denny plus Driving/Dinner.

One word..... Hailstone
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
Followed this loop as listed in the description. Watched the low clouds rip across the ridge at the parking lot and had misting rain for most of the Echo Canyon portion, Loved the Grottos and Wall Street. Difficult to hike this section, as look around walk 5 steps and gawk, 10 steps gawk some more etc..

Found the small formation of the name sake for the Hailstone Trail. Sun was breaking out and the rain gear was shed. This trail has full exposure to the AZ sun. Easy hiking with a gentle rise.

Back to the TH lot on the Ed Driggs a steady rise with afternoon shade and lizards galore.
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Continuing on our trip through Southeastern AZ, we headed out to the Chiricahuas for the first time. I had never been south of Safford/Roper Lake at all, so this was all new territory for me. After leaving Roper Lake we drove through the little town of Bowie, then Apache Pass. Unfortunately we didn't have time to hike the short trail down to the Fort Bowie ruins. Next time. Beautiful drive. No one else in the parking lot at all. After leaving Apache Pass we drove straight down the 186 to the Chiricahua NM. All the wide open grasslands surrounded by sky islands along the way were quite a sight.

The drive into the monument was awesome. Don't think I've ever seen so many oaks in one place. We stopped at the visitor center just to check it out, and grabbed a map. The woman in the visitor center told us there is no longer a fee to access the park. Makes sense, as the little booth at the entrance was closed up. We continued driving up to Massai Point. There were a few people at Massai Point and in and around the exhibit building, but it was mostly empty. Awesome views all around. So many hoodoos in every direction... I'd never seen anything like it. The weather was perfect.

We started our hike from here. Adding on the Massai Point nature trail and the short connector trail to Echo Canyon both ways, this came to 4.3 miles. Coming back up the connector trail added a good amount of AEG to the hike. We did the Echo Canyon Loop CCW. There is so much to see on this trail, and the landscapes and plant life are so varied, it's just amazing. Getting to hike through and climb around inside the grottoes was awesome. We hung out in there for quite a while.

After leaving all the grottoes we slowly descended into the canyon. We could hear a waterfall off in the distance but couldn't see it. All the dead trees combined with the lushness of the other plant life gave the canyon bottom a weird feeling. Dead and alive at the same time. I'm not sure if there's normally any water down here, but there was a little bit of running water and some mosquito-filled pools here and there. Climbing back up out of the canyon was very slow and gradual...very gentle slope. There was a lot of grass along the trail here and the area was just full of big black and green grasshoppers. I wasn't familiar with them, but I guess they are "western horse lubbers"? Once we completed the loop, the hike back up the short connector trail was a little steep.

I wish we had allowed more time on our trip to hike here. I was a little sad to leave. These mountains are so remote for someone like me from Phoenix that it's gonna be hard to justify the drive out here very often. I have to say it was definitely worth it though. SE Arizona has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty. I can't wait to come back. Long write up for a short hike, I know, but this is a hike I'll never forget.

On our way home we went to Apple Annie's Orchard in Willcox and picked some fresh apples and pears, and bought some delicious apple bread from the bakery. We stopped in Benson and had dinner at the Horse Shoe Cafe (great down-home cooking!), and got some ice cream from the Old Benson Ice Cream Shop. Great way to end a wonderful trip!
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Very scenic relatively easy hike. The weather was beautiful, near 60 deg F, and very little wind. Trails are well maintained and met only a few other well mannered hikers including two friendly trail workers. Camping in Bonita Campground, one the most cozy campgrounds my wife and I have been stayed {Note: the host, Bonnie, and other workers are some of the best we have encountered in out travels}.
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
After an all-nighter of trying to sleep in the rain and being spotlighted by Border Patrol, I started hiking around noon under a threatening sky and rumbling thunder. The rain had started by the time I reached The Grottoes, and turned into a downpour soon after. The trail became a creek. Water roared down every drainage. A flash flood waterfall appeared. Baby cypress trees and wildflowers offered hope for the burned areas. Back at the trailhead I tried to wait out the rain, but it just kept pouring. Rhyolite Creek was a muddy torrent next to the visitor center. Rangers closed the road up Bonita Canyon due to flood danger. Not the best conditions for enjoying the Monument, but it was still a great visit.
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Cheryl and I headed up to the Chiricahuas with the plans of hiking this loop. A good year or so ago she sent me an email referencing The Grotto and said "I want to go here!". We finally made the trip down south and it was well worth it. Cheryl is not a hiker but really enjoyed this loop. The rock formations were fascinating and it was very easy going. I made sure we went at a slow and enjoyable pace. The last time we hiked together in Yosemite and it resulted in her not speaking to me for half the day. :sl: Anyways, we continued on and stopped for a quick snack. From there we connected to the Ed Riggs trail and were back at the parking lot in no time. Cheryl and I both enjoyed the hike and were on to the next adventure.
Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Great hike with the boys started at Echo Canyon back up Hailstone to Mushroom Rock up to Big Balanced Rock to Heart of Rocks Loop down the Sarah Deming and finally Lower Rhyolite to Visitor Center and back to Campground.

Awesome views just nice chilly wind to keep things cool but with layers still comfortable.

Permit $$

Coronado Forest
MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

Chiricahua National Monument
Chiricahua NM $5 per person / 7 Day Entrance Fee

Map Drive
Paved - Car Okay

To Echo Canyon Trailhead
From I-10 exit 340 in Willcox, head south on highway 186 for about 33.2 miles to highway 181. Turn left (east) onto highway 181, and follow it for 3 miles to the Chiricahua National Monument entrance. (see fee above) Follow the road (which later becomes "Scenic Drive") for approximately 7.5 miles beyond the Monument entrance, to the sign for Echo Canyon and Sugarloaf picnic areas. Turn right, and follow the road to the turnoff for the Echo Canyon trailhead/parking area on your left. The trail begins at the far end of the Echo Canyon parking lot, next to the trail information sign.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 236 mi, 3 hours 50 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 126 mi, 2 hours 20 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 379 mi, 5 hours 56 mins
help comment issue

end of page marker