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Noon Creek Loop, AZ

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Guide 60 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 2.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,310 feet
Elevation Gain 462 feet
Accumulated Gain 532 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.06
Interest Perennial Waterfall & Perennial Creek
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13  2018-08-17 SkyIslander18
13  2018-03-15 cactuscat
15  2017-10-06
Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
15  2017-05-30
Noon Creek Canyon Loop
30  2017-05-19
Round the Mountain Trail #302
10  2016-04-28 SkyIslander18
4  2015-07-26 friendofThunderg
15  2014-01-05
Round the Mountain Trail #302
Page 1,  2
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
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Preferred   Feb, Mar, Apr → 2 PM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:07am - 6:17pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
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liquid snow races for the desert
by PrestonSands

This nice little loop hike around Noon Creek in the Pinaleno Mountains makes use of the two lower segments of the Round The Mountain Trail #302, with a connection using the Swift Trail highway. Noon Creek, with its numerous cascades and small waterfalls, is the main attraction on this hike. The creek flows almost year round, but the best time to see it in action is during spring snowmelt.

The hike begins at the Round The Mountain Trailhead. The Round The Mountain Trail departs next to a corral, and heads downhill a short distance to where it crosses Noon Creek. There are a few small cascades here, where the creek flows over ancient metamorphic rock. Five minutes of boulder hopping upstream will bring you to a 20 foot waterfall.

Beyond the creek crossing, the Round The Mountain Trail heads upstream along the north bank and enters oak woodland, before climbing atop a low ridge. It now follows the ridge due west up Noon Creek Canyon, gradually gaining elevation, and heading towards 10,000 foot Heliograph Peak.

At about 0.9 miles, the Round The Mountain Trail reaches a signed junction with the old Round The Mountain Trail. The old trail comes in from the left, while the new trail turns right. Our hike goes left (south), along the old Round The Mountain Trail.

For the next 0.2 miles, you will need to look carefully for pink flagging in the trees, and cairns, as this section of trail was damaged by the Nuttall Fire. The trail is better defined as it descends to Noon Creek, but disappears again in the debris along the creek bottom. Pink flagging leads you downstream a few hundred feet to where the trail reappears on the south bank, next to a low cliff. The creek tumbles over some mini-waterfalls in this area.

After the creek crossing, the old Round The Mountain Trail contours along the south side of the canyon, a little ways above Noon Creek. Distant views down the broad, u-shaped canyon include far off mountain ranges, scattered across the Chihuahuan desert.

At the 1.1 mile point, consider going off trail a short distance to Noon Creek. In this area, the creek flows over exposed bedrock, and there are a few small waterfalls to be found. There are also a couple of small pools, just big enough to soak in. This is a pleasant spot to enjoy what Noon Creek has to offer.

Continuing on, the old Round The Mountain Trail curves to the south, and passes the junction with the Noon Creek Ridge Trail at 1.6 miles.

The trail comes to an end at 1.75 miles, where it meets the highway at milepost 122.1. Follow the highway downhill now. A 0.6 mile walk will bring you back to your starting point at the Round The Mountain Trailhead.

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2008-02-13 PrestonSands
    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 44 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    As expected lots of holiday people around Noon Creek, but ..... not many know about the swimming holes up the middle of the canyon :y:
    Parked at RTM CG and headed up the Swift Trail for the clockwise loop. Did Not get hit by a single vehicle on this short 1/4 mile walk up the road by the 25 or so passers :y:
    Took the Noon Creek trail up to the upper crossing then down the canyon to the swim holes. Spent 2 hours there swimming, sun worshiping and watching all the dragonflies and butterflies over the pool and the insane amount of tadpoles under ..... it was wonderful!
    Off-trailed back up to Noon Creek trail and finished the loop down into all the holiday mountain goers.
    Way too many people on the lower mountain today, but it all worked out and I now have a new fresh slight sunburn to prove it!

    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Late afternoon clockwise loop.
    Wonderful hike, made it to the upper crossing just as the sun fell behind Mt Graham.
    Second half down I had wonderful shadow lighting.
    Arrived down to the lower crossing at sunset.
    Spent another hour at RTM Campground with a campfire and meal.
    Watched the big moon rise and the lights of Safford below come on before returning back home.

    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Graham got more snow & rain overnight, so I headed up to Noon Creek for the water show while it's at peak. Started from the Round the Mountain TH and headed up counter for the loop. Right away I almost couldn't make the first lower crossing ..... can't remember ever seeing this much water rushing down Noon Creek!!!
    Arrived later at the upper crossing with another tough water cross ..... this one I had to get wet.
    In-between completing the loop I made some short side trips down the canyon, up the Round the Mountain trail, up Noon Creek Ridge and along the Swift Trail to bring me back to the start.
    Unbelievable amount of water coming off the mountain everywhere right now, upper 1/3 of Graham covered with a new blanket of snow and throughout I was hit with snow flurries & cold, cold temps ..... It was Awesomely beautiful!

    From a favorite perch in the canyon -
    [ youtube video ]
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Got on Noon Creek Loop before sunrise.
    Watched the sun come up on Noon Creek Ridge.
    Exited down on the cutoff trail.
    Swift Trail up to Arcadia.
    Wet Canyon down.
    Swift Trail back to the start for the figure 8.
    The Noon Creek trails were great! Very scenic and a lot of fun. The Ridge and Cutoff trails are a little overgrown, but nothing too difficult to follow.
    Arcadia and the Swift Trail as beautiful as always.

    Wet Canyon ..... WOW ..... it was like hiking down a brand new canyon! Major flooding has altered this canyon beyond belief. I will dearly miss the old canyon that was chocked full of thick foliage and wonderful plant life ..... but this new look of a wider, deeper, boulder blanketed with new waterfalls and now clear of obstructions up & down looked something special to me ..... I think many will like it too. I just hope FS rebuilds the old picnic grounds at the lower bridge.

    Another good one on Graham!
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Started up with the sun.
    Counter clock-wise loop.
    Lower creek crossing unaffected by the Frye Fire :y:
    Next 1/2 mile up very affected by the fire :(
    Then through the old Nuttail/Gibson burn of 2004 that is recovering well :)
    This poor north side of the loop has been through a lot in 13 years :pk:
    Upper creek crossing and rest of the south side trail looked great, lush & green :D
    All done by 7am!

    Noon Creek upper crossing
    [ youtube video ]
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After Goat Canyon and John's Dam with Chad, I drove up the Swift Trail to Round the Mountain, and gave the road block there the stink eye and a bit of grumbling. I need my mixed conifer fix! But it was not to be today...

    Chad had mentioned post fire changes at Adams Flat and Jacobson Creek, and, not having been there in quite a while, I chose to venture up there. The flume trail to Adams was getting overgrown in spots, but the big changes were along Jacobson Creek. A conveyor belt of boulders from the Wet Canyon flood had mowed down all the trees and debris in the creek bed, and generally opened up the once choked canyon. Saw a baby Arizona Black Rattlesnake among the rocks and walked across a giant fallen tree that had formed a natural bridge high above the creek. I walked through the Blair-Witchy trees at Adams Flat, and then made my way down to the waterfalls and Adams' box canyon. Chocolate mud water roared down the series of falls, which I got to see in their entirety from a ledge for the first time. Even found an old, rusty can of "Lucky Lager" beer from 1952 among the rocks. I headed back to my rental car afterward, and visited Angle Orchard for the first time in years, exchanging the $10 in my wallet for some obscenely delicious peaches.

    Next up was a walk on the Swift Trail. I followed it for a bit before making my way off trail into the bushes above Noon Creek. Followed the trail uphill for a bit, and then took the lower spur to Noon Creek itself, where I enjoyed a nice soak in refreshingly chilly, cascading water. I started making my way through the canyon, bypassing beautiful slick rock pools and small waterfalls along the way. This was the highlight of my random hike route, and one that I'd like to check out again. Eventually I had to cross the canyon and bushwhack through a locust thicket to climb back up to the Swift Trail and my car, wrapping up my hike at sunset.

    I finished off my Safford day trip with dinner at Casa Manana for a tasty burro combo, and then reluctantly made a moonlight drive back to Tucson. It was a totally random and largely unplanned day, typical for me, but great fun as usual.
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Early rise, early start.
    Went right up the canyon from the picnic grounds. About a quarter mile up I remembered that I only want to do this canyon going down :lol: It was rough & tough getting up that sucker today, the thick foliage is in and there was a lot more deadfall then my last time out ..... I left skin & blood.
    Just a light water flow on this day which was good, I was able to stick to the creek most of the way up.
    Beautiful waterfalls & swimming holes throughout with many columbine flowers along the creek!
    Made it up to the upper crossing where I had a very cold, but refreshing swim. I then took the southern portion of the Noon Creek Loop trail back down to the Swift Trail and on back to the picnic grounds completing the loop.
    Dragonflies, butterflies, lizards, canyon tree frogs, vultures & Mexican jays were the wildlife that joined me.
    Good fun workout at Noon Creek!
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Solo overnight getaway - Noon Creek to Marijilda Creek segment of the Round the Mountain Trail.

    From the RTM lot I took Noon Creek up, right onto RTM up to Marijilida saddle then down to Marijilda Creek. Planned on setting up camp by the creek, but the area was very thick and closed in with foliage. Very beautiful, but not what I was looking for to camp. Decided to head back up and out to camp higher on the switchbacks at a great Gila valley overlook I noted earlier as a back-up. Unable to locate any flat ground, I set up my camp right on the trail at the overlook. I believe this was the first time I have ever done this, but this is a very low use trail and I didn't foresee any problems ... and there wasn't.
    Campfire, dinner, nighttime Gila valley lights , night/astro photography, reading & writing were my pleasures before a 10pm bedtime. Night temps at 6000ft were chilly through the night and had me up with the sun at 5am packing up and heading out. Made it back down to Noon Creek in short time ending this good trip!
    No big wildlife on the trail, but I did hear an owl most of the night down the canyon and spotted my first rattlesnake of the year crossing the Swift Trail on the drive down home.
    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    2nd time in as many weeks I've had to repeat a hike to look for an item lost on the trail ](*,)

    And as in the case last week, I re-hiked the same route and could not locate the item ](*,)

    So here is the scorecard for my last 2 (non-repeat) hikes - 2 personal items lost = $350

    Hiking has lately become too costly, I'm returning back to the mountain bike ..... hope I don't lose my bike!

    Noon Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Short afternoon stroll with Addie & Lauren.
    We hiked just the southern portion of the loop down to the upper creek crossing.
    Light creek flow down the canyon on this day.
    Return trip was spent gathering materials for some home art projects.
    It was good to hike with BOTH of the girls again, twas' like old times!

    Permit $$

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

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail). Follow highway 366 for approximately 7.7 miles to the Round The Mountain Trailhead on the right. There is a large trailhead sign on the left side of the highway, opposite the trailhead.
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