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

Fire Loop Trail - Mica, AZ

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Guide 23 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Tucson
Rated
4.2
4.2 of 5 by 6
 
1
Statistics
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 7,945 feet
Elevation Gain 716 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,279 feet
Avg Time One Way 3 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.26
Interest Historic & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
13  2018-09-15
Manning Camp and Helen's dome
RedwallNHops
9  2017-05-12
Turkey Creek Trail #34
gunungapi
47  2016-09-18
Your shoe's untied - Rincon's North Slope Loop
tibber
27  2016-09-17
Rincon Manning Camp Turkey Creek
BiFrost
199  2016-05-21
Mica Mountain Marathon Loop
AZHiker456
79  2015-09-01
Rincon Mountains - AZT #9
The_Dude
26  2015-04-16
AZT #9c Manning Camp to Park Boundary
markthurman53
9  2015-04-15
Mica Mountain Southeast Trails
markthurman53
Page 1,  2
Author markthurman53
author avatar Guides 75
Routes 475
Photos 5,651
Trips 400 map ( 3,956 miles )
Age 66 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
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Preferred   Sep, Aug, May, Jul
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:07am - 6:27pm
Official Route
 
8 Alternative
 
Water
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
four section freeway
by markthurman53

Likely In-Season!
The Fire Loop Trail on Mica Mountain can be likened to a Freeway system in a large city complete with through freeways, Loop freeway and connecter freeways, without the traffic though. If you are just looking to get in and out of the area the Mica Mountain Trail does that, it is the main trail from south to north trough Mica Mountain. If you want to avoid the inner basin of Mica Mountain you use the Fire Loop Trail that loops around the Mica Mountain Basin and connects all the other trails. The Mica Meadow and Spud Rock are East west connector Trails and the Bonita trail bypasses the far end of the east Fire Loop Trail. Now that’s that is as clear as mud let’s talk Fire Loop Trail.


The Fire Loop trail is divided into four sections; South, East, North and West, corresponding to the side of Mica basin they are on. The Trail is 5.0 miles long and has four major inputs, Manning Camp trail from the southwest, Heartbreak Ridge from the Southeast, North Slope/Italian Spring from the north and Cow Head Saddle from the West. Getting from one side to the other is accomplished by using any of the connector trails; Mica Mountain, Mica Meadow, Spud Rock or Bonita Trails. All the trails are in good condition and very well signed.

The South Fire Loop Trail from Manning Camp heading east to Bonita Trail is 1.2 miles long and climbs 400 feet in about 1 mile. The Heartbreak Ridge trail connects up with the Loop trail at about .6 miles. Along this Trail is Man Head Rock to the east just off the trail. Not sure of the origin of the name other than it does kind of resemble a large head. The Bonita and Mica Meadow trail connect to this trail near the end of it, Bonita heading north and the Mica Meadow heading west.

Continuing on the Fire Loop you are now on the East portion. This section is 1.6 miles long ending at the North Slope/Italian spring trail intersection. There is very little elevation gain along this portion. The trail follows above and in a bit from Reef Rock. A side trail to Reef Rock about .1 miles is worth the trip with excellent views to the south of Rincon peak and to the east over San Pedro Valley.

The North Fire Loop Trail starts at the junction with the North Slope/Italian Spring Trail and Continues west to The Intersection with the Cow Head Saddle Trail. This portion is 1.6 miles long, with an elevation gain of about 200 feet to Mica Mountain and a drop of 550 feet to the Cow Head Saddle junction. The Bonita trail .2 miles in, will take you south to The South Fire Loop Trail and Mica Meadow Trail (.8 miles). .1 miles further is the junction with the Mica Mountain Trail that will take you to Manning Camp. At .4 miles from the start of North Fire Loop trail is Mica Mountain and the site of the old lookout tower. At .8 miles in on North Fire Loop Trail is the Spud Rock Trail that will take you down to the Mica Mountain Trail. There are great views of the Southeast side of Helen’s Dome from this trail.

The West Fire Loop Trail is one and the Same as the Cow Head Saddle Trail and takes you to Manning Camp. This portion is .6 miles with an elevation drop of 170 feet.
The Trail system on Mica Mountain allows you to create a couple of different loop hikes. With a little thought I was able to do all the trails including the North Slope Trail on two separate hikes in one and a half days without duplicating trails (much).


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2017-04-12 markthurman53
  • Rincon HAZ Map
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    Rincon HAZ Map
  • Rincon Mountain Distric East
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    Rincon Mountain Distric East
  • Tucson Mountain District West
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    Tucson Mountain District West
  • SNP Cactus Forest Map
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    SNP Cactus Forest Map
  • nps related
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One-Way Notice
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.

Most recent Triplog Reviews
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Headed over to Happy Valley on Christmas Eve to get up in the high country ahead of the big weather system that was predicted to dump a bunch of snow. No cars at Miller Creek, perfect clear cold weather. Miller Creek trail in good condition, a little confusing in a spot or two as it crosses some drainages. Headed up Heartbreak Ridge, my first time on that trail - wasn't sure what to expect as I figured it didn't get much traffic. Trail in excellent condition, surprised to see tons of steps build on a trail so far in the backcountry - a total contrast to the brushy thrash-fests on all the trails on the "back side" of the Santa Catalinas (like Samaniego Ridge or CDO). I guess the National Parks have a much larger budget for trail maintenance... Lots of water along the way to Devil's Bathtub, which I had never visited, which was also flowing strong. Headed up to Manning Cabin, nobody there either except for a few deer, think I had the whole mountain to myself. (Plenty of water at Manning, as always...)

Ran up to Spud Rock, and the weather started changing fast, was suddenly in a windy cloud with the temps dropping fast and smoky wisps of fog blowing through the forest. Put on some layers (tights, windshirt, buff), ran up to the summit and didn't even stop, and bailed down the Bonita trail, and by the time I hit Heartbreak, I was beneath the cloud ceiling that was enveloping Micah and back in the sun, but the temp kept dropping. Crazy wind along the ridge, literally pushed me off the trail a few times, lots of birds flitting around, couldn't figure out how they don't get blown off the mountain. Made time to run up to the Lookout on the way out, another first - incredible views of Rincon and San Pedro Valley, worth the side trip.

Tried to keep a strong pace coming down Miller, but that is one steep, boulder-filled descent. Returned to the truck in a total time a bit under six hours for 23mi and 6400aev, and cracked a beer just as the sky went black and that huge weather system hit, exciting drive back to Tucson rocking down the freeway in the old 4x4 truck with high winds, sideways precip, and wrecks here and there...
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Your shoe's untied - Rincon's North Slope Loop
It says "would I do this hike again?". Not the North Slope for sure unless there is some trail maintenance. You do get some sweeping views, nice flora from time to time and it does make a loop but not much else to say altho you know I'll end up with several paragraphs.

After a nice nite, other than all of us getting cold feet in our sleeping bags for some reason, we had a leisurely breakfast before heading off for our various hikes of the day atop this mountain. Wendy wanted to go say hello to Helen so we headed northwest out of camp. Once again, there are sweeping views as you get to the edges, and there are lots of edges up here. We stopped for a selfie with Wrightson in the far background since we both were up there together in 2010. From this same point we could hear and then see Karl on Helen walking around so we got a couple pictures before heading on our way.

We continued on a nice trail across to the other side of the mountain where we met up with K&K as they were coming down from Helen. They headed off to Spud and we continued toward Italian Spring via the so-called North Slope Trail except that Wendy decided she was hungry. We stopped so she could fuel up and then she decided she wanted to go up and close with Helen. I waited below as I was still a bit sore from the previous day's climb, I mean hike. I could hear K&K up on Spud Rock and soon Wendy came back and off we went.

Well as soon as we rounded the corner to the other edge of the mountain, the trail blazing began. I think both of us thot it would be short-lived so we pushed thru ferns and over downfall and searched out the missing trail. But this went on for nearly two miles. We were going thru a burn section (I think from 1994). It was quite obvious there hadn't been any trail maintenance for a very long time. By the time we were wanting this to be over, it was really too late to turn back. My hopes were that after Italian Spring that the trail conditions would improve. So we pushed thru trees and brush and over and around deadfall that was on a narrow path of this slope. We were constantly having to tie our shoes :bdh: on top of trying to find cairns and metal blaze markers. Many times we found the markers but they were in the deadfall that we would have to negotiate. Oh, and one time we saw a big pile of bear scat and went "oh ya, bears"... kind of forgot about that.

We did stop to take in the views as you could see quite far today. As we paused for lunch not too far from Italian Spring in amongst some boulders, I pondered that we were the only ones up here; what would happen if something happened to us? No one would have a clue where to find us. Well that soon passed and we headed on down to Italian Spring. The trail from here on out was not too bad altho there were still moments when we lost the trail. Glad we stopped where we did too because there was nowhere to really sit around the spring area as it was surrounded by ferns and bees. At the spring there are two different trails to take too.

We continued up the hill thru the turning ferns with the light coming thru the forest for the trees. I'm still not fond of this "UP" process again but it wasn't too bad. Toward the end of the climb I was doing my tired dog imitation and hiking from shade to shade :lol: . Now our original goal for the hike was to do this little loop and then head back to camp where we would go to the Devil's Bathtub. Well that plan went out the window so Wendy suggested we hike to Reef Rock, a place she hadn't seen up here. We used the Fire Loop Trail once we topped out.

Now this plan worked out very well and we had a nice hike on this east side of the mountain. We came to where you could start seeing far yonder and came upon a flat rock area with a big boulder. I thot this was Reef Rock but it wasn't. So I just call it the Eastern Overlook. We had incredible views here including of Rincon Mountain. We checked out the area and then continued on our way to Reef Rock at 8300 feet. The views were equally awesome from here and you could see the trail we came in on way below between the Park Boundary and the TH saddle.

From here we headed UP again but I knew there wasn't much elevation to be gained on this mountain so we eventually ended up on a nice forest floor and headed toward Mica Meadow. We hung a right and headed up to the meadow but then realized we didn't want to go that way. The signs are a little confusing up here so you have to decipher them. For instance, :-k the question became: are we on the trail to Mica Meadow or is this the Mica Meadow Trail? The trail we eventually took is somewhat marked on the topo but not a named trail. So we took that and when it didn't quite match up we got a little worried but once it hung a left, it joined up with the Mica Mountain Trail... at least I think it did. We're not sure if that's a re-route or what.

But from here it was pretty much clear sailing back to camp. We followed a creek, altho those are not named on the topos, and thru some more fern-covered forest floors back to Manning Camp. It wasn't quite what Wendy had in mind for the day and I certainly didn't want to put those kind of miles on but it was quite an adventure and we covered a lot of the top of this mountain. We did encounter water everywhere too.

This mountain top has so much to offer as to its terrain with meadows and rock mountains and overlooks and creeks and all sorts of stuff; definitely worth a two-nite stay. However, please heed our warning, the North Slope Trail is really not and according to Karl, neither is part of the East Slope. It's too bad but if there's not enough traffic to justify the maintenance, I guess it's understandable.

K&K showed up about 1/2 hour later I think. I had quite a few scratches at that and some bruises from the day. K&K covered a lot of the mountain as well. We made ourselves some dinner, Karl kept a nice fire burning or we would have retired much earlier.


2-14-17 Part 1 to Helen's Dome and starting on the North Slope Trail [ youtube video ]
Part 2 North Slope Route not too far from Italian Spring [ youtube video ]
Part 3 Italian Spring via Fire Loop [ youtube video ]
Part 4 Reef Rock to Manning Camp via Mica Meadow [ youtube video ]
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
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Douglas Spring/Mica Mtn/Grass Shack
Day 1: Finished work at 4, dropped of a car at Loma Alta, and got shuttled to Douglas Spring TH just before 6. We had to use headlamps almost the entire way, but it was a pretty smooth hike. Thanks to the camper at Site 1 who directed us to Site 2 and let us use his bear locker (even though there was a bear locker at Site 3 just about 40 feet away from us which we were too stupid to see in the dark). Since we got there so late, there was a lot of getting disoriented trying to find our way around, and hopefully our confused ranting didn't keep the other camper awake. I'm afraid we were quite close to being those campers...

Day 2: Went up to Cowhead Saddle, Spud Rock, and Mica Mountain, then down the Mica Mountain Trail to Manning Camp and down the Manning Camp Trail to Grass Shack for the night. A pretty big day, and the weather couldn't have been any better. Back in May I only lasted about 5 mins on Spud Rock before getting cold, but now in December it was warm with just the slightest breeze. The descent from Mica that afternoon as the sun was setting was about as good as it gets.

Day 3: Booked it down to Loma Alta in 4 hrs so that we could make it to work that afternoon. Remind me to never ascend this route in the summer. Gorgeous this time of year though.

Plenty of water at Grass Shack and Manning Camp, and pretty good flow at Douglas Spring. No beer at Grass Shack. :-({|=
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
What a trip! I have been looking at this hike (or some variation) for some time now. I started from the Loma Alta TH about 3:30 after finishing up work, and about an hour later than I had wanted to start, but sometimes duty calls...Overloaded with more stuff than I need (as per usual) the grind up was pretty taxing, especially with the high humidity level. I was sweating buckets the whole way up! I had to navigate the last hour + by headlamp which made for really slow going, especially trying to find an overgrown trail and make my way across numerous wet creek crossings. There is flowing water everywhere in the Rincons right now, I have never seen so much water and green growth out here! All the washes are flowing, and there are waterfalls around every corner it seemed. The Quilter trail and the first 4 miles of the Mannig Camp trail are really overgrown, lots of annuals and grasses going to town with all of the moisture. Soaked my boots making the crossing to the Grass Shack campground, my destination for the night. I had enough energy to set up camp and filter some water, but I was too wiped to even worry about dinner. Slept really well in the tent, temps were in the mid to low 60's so very comfortable. Got up a bit before the sun on Wednesday for some breakfast, and then loaded up for the trip up the mountain. Made good time up to Manning Camp where I stopped for a break to look around, have a snack, and filter some water. Clouds were looming in and the thunder started up as I was approaching Mica Mountain, but I had come too far to not make my goal. Made it to the top and signed the register, saw a few familiar names in the book. From here I continued on the Fire Loop over to Spud Rock and made the scramble up. Fantastic views up above, simply breathtaking! Enjoyed a summit brew and had to skedaddle, there was a big dark cloud hanging over Mica and I knew better than to chance it. I went down the Fire loop to the Cow Head Saddle trail when the sprinkling started. This kept up for about 45 minutes, and then the real rain started. I had to take a break to stow my electronics in a dry bag and I got out my rain jacket, all the while trying to get further down the mountain and away from the potential lightning...Made the Cow Head Saddle and took the Douglas Spring trail on back to camp. It rained hard enough that my boots got soaked through in pretty quick fashion, this ended up rubbing a pretty nasty hole under my right ankle once I was back to camp to assess damages. I finally ate my lunch about 3:30, and dozed in the tent waiting for the bugs to go away with the dark. Woke up for a quick snack and to send off a SPOT signal to my wife so she didn't fret too much. Thursday I woke up about 5:30 to get in an early breakfast and get packed up for the trip out. I had my first human contact in two days when I ran into Andrew from the NPS trail crew about a mile or so onto the Quilter trail. I stopped to chat for a few and share some experiences, nice guy! From here I powered down to Rincon Creek (I am pretty sure) for a snack and to filter some more water. Finally made it back to the trusty Quest van about 11:30 to take off my boots and see that I had a big blister on my left foot and a few more rub marks form all of the wet boot hiking. I don't think my boots were ever dry on this trip, I might have retired this pair in style. Headed back into Tucson for some much needed lunch at one of my favorites, La Parilla Suiza. Promptly inhaled a chile relleno, enchilada, rice, beans, two bowls of chips, two cups of water, and two cups of iced tea. Refueled, I headed back to Phoenix for a nice shower at home and then some family time. Simply amazing trip, any time you can go through 6 different bio-zones on a hike you know you have done well. P.S., if anyone makes it up to the Grass Shack in the near future, there are a few extra Sunspot Gold ales in the bear box at site two, if the rangers do not get to it first...

Wildflowers
Huge amounts of color from about 3500' to 5000', spotty above there.
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
Rincon Mountains
Day 1: Parked at Turkey Creek TH (not at the actual TH, just where the road gets bad), walked to Miller Creek TH, hiked up to Happy Valley, dropped our heavy stuff, and headed up Rincon Peak.

Day 2: HBR trail up to Spud Rock Campground via the Deerhead Spring Trail, again dropped stuff off, then waddled up the rest of the way to see Mica Mtn, Spud Rock, Manning Camp, and all sorts of other goodies I hadn't seen before. Everything up there was amazing and well worth the schlep...

Day 3: Down Turkey Creek Trail. It was a much nicer trail than I was expecting, but it's not something I would want to do during typical May weather given how exposed it is.

No issues aside from a few scary looking clouds the second afternoon and lots of very excited (but non-threatening) bees on the Heartbreak Ridge Trail on the way up to Happy Valley Lookout. The Manzanitas were blossoming and there was a constantly disconcerting buzz the entire time... :scared: Otherwise it's a fantastic trail.
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Up TVR and Cowhead Saddle trails to the Rincon high point at Mica Mountain, an outstanding ridge hike with huge views and gradually changing flora, cactus-to-conifers. Then back down on AZT #9 to the Camino Loma Alta trailhead. Juniper Basin was dry, good water at Manning Camp and Grass Shack. Bike shuttle between start/end.
Fire Loop Trail - Mica
rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
Rincon Loop
Wanting to return to the Rincons since last fall, today was to be a great hike in the main body of the range, though without the Mica MT area. I was really pleased that my car got me to the four wheel drive trailhead, as I took it up the 2 track and started from there, instead of lower down. This gave me more time higher up, and I was able to visit Manning Camp, as a result. The 4WD road was less about clearance, than actual 4WD, and beefy tires would make a difference. However, a fictional AWD civic never would have made it.

The hike was better than expected and I was up in the pines in under 3 hours. I really just hiked through the Deer Head fire area and was less impressed with it than I hoped. This is no central Gila Wilderness. Most of the affects seem to be top killing brush and oaks, and needle cast consumption, but there was less grass than hoped for. I did hike up a ridge (not GPSed) and look at some old growth pines, still with some grass under them. I found the area around Manning Camp to be highly reminiscent of some of the low spots in the WOR, specifically around the nice camping spot with the massive pines. This is because it is almost all pine litter, little grass, and a dense stand of tall poles, with some larger orange barkers, but nothing characteristic of the way it would have been 120 years ago.

The Fire Loop is one of the nicer areas, and the granite domes are fun to look at, and climb on if you chose. In that regard, the Rincons have a Yosemite feel to them. Manning Camp itself is OK, but it just feels like a NPS camp area, nothing that special, save for the water and weather station. The Manning Camp trail south of the camp does have great canyons, falling water, and westward views to the Tucson Mountains. The Devil's Bathtub trail and area is really nice, and if flowing when warm might be a nice place to hangout, but I expect it is dry when warm. Heartbreak Ridge has great views, and as always looking east is fantastic.

With the current appearance of the east slopes, the species composition, and the fire affects, I would almost prefer it had not burned, since the oaks and other brush will coppice, some younger pines were killed, a lot of soil will and has eroded post fire, and it isn't going to return to pine, or mixed oaks over grass anytime soon. The grassy and pine covered areas do look better, and at least fuel loads are reduced. Still, the top of the mountain would benefit from something it will never get: mechanical thinning. The current composition of this area seems to have been influenced by (the Manning's?) grazing a lot more than Mica Mountain proper, but there appears to be slightly more soil here, too.

Overall, a great hike, my longest of the year, and with some serious AEG. It was nice down low, and cool, but tolerable while constantly switching between a sweater and t-shirt up higher. It was also breezy, but that created some lenticular clouds. I think it is still early in the higher terrain, as despite the above normal temps, it is still only late March, and there were fewer bird calls than expected. I did see some mountain quail, I think, or some other birds with flight sounds like a quail. Most of the life is still below 6,000'.

Permit $$
NPS

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

Saguaro National Park
2019 $20 vehicle, $15 motorcycle or $10 for any individual on foot or bicycle - the receipt is valid for 7 days Fees


Directions
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To hike
There are no roads to Mica Mountain. access is Via Miller Canyon Trail, in Rincon valley. Douglas Spring trail or Quilter Trail in Saguaro National Park.
page created by joebartels on Apr 12 2017 7:57 pm
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