Gateway to the Wilderness
The Crest Trail is actually a system of trails, spurs and side loops that sits like an inverted "Y" on the central ridge of the Chiricahuas. To make the job of describing this trail network a bit more manageable, the FS has broken it up into three parts. This northernmost segment of the Crest Trail is the only portion which is outside the Chiricahua Wilderness.
A variety of outstanding views is just one of the features you'll find along this portion of the Chiricahua mountain range's longest trail. It wanders through wildflower-carpeted meadows and dense stands of pine and fir as it winds along the backbone ridge of the Chiricahuas. The course it follows extends between a trailhead on FR 357 just west of the junction with FR 42D, and the northern boundary of the Chiricahua Wilderness near Flys Peak. Most people, however, access the trail from the main trailhead located on the west side of the loop road at the end of Rustler Park Campground.
Barfoot Lookout on the summit of Buena Vista Peak provides marvelous views a short but steep climb from this trail's northern end. If you come from the Rustler Park Trailhead, it is a little over 1.5 miles to views which include the dramatic profile of Cochise Head, the sheer bluffs of Barfoot Peak, Cave Creek Canyon and Cochise Stronghold in the Dragoons.
Heading south from the Rustler Park Campground, the trail leads through forests draped with Spanish moss and carpeted with bracken fern. At Bootlegger Saddle, 1.4 miles from the campground, there are more good views and a number of connecting trails. From here it is about a mile to the northern boundary of the Chiricahua Wilderness. Centella Point, Chiricahua Peak and Flys Peak, are within easy distance along connecting trails. Even Monte Vista Peak, with its marvelous vistas, is a long but manageable day trip along the Crest.
This hike is listed as One-Way.
When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
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.