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Cunningham Spur, AZ

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Guide 18 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
4 of 5 by 5
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 9,143 feet
Elevation Gain 260 feet
Accumulated Gain 470 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 5.55
Interest Perennial Creek
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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20  2017-05-14 SkyIslander18
2  2016-07-08 cactuscat
15  2014-06-05
Cunningham Loop Trail
14  2013-05-20
Cunningham Loop Trail
20  2012-07-14
Cunningham Loop Trail
15  2012-07-14
Cunningham Loop Trail
15  2010-10-22 SkyIslander18
12  2010-07-19 SkyIslander18
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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   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → Any
Seasons   Spring to Autumn
Sun  6:02am - 6:29pm
Official Route
2 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Pinaleno perfection!
by PrestonSands

Likely In-Season!
Overview: This hike follows an abandoned, dead-end logging road into the lush alpine bowl of upper Grant Creek, in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains. This trail can be done in conjunction with the Cunningham Loop Trail, which it connects with, although it is a worthy hike on its own. The hike is easy, with little elevation gain, and no route finding involved. July and August bring wildflowers, raspberries, and of course, bears. Be sure to bring a bell on this one!

Hike: From the east Cunningham Loop trailhead, hike up the road past the vehicle barrier gate. Just past the gate, the road forks. Go right (uphill). A few hundred feet later, the road forks again. Go right again (the left fork is the Cunningham Loop Trail). The road now turns northeast to begin a steady climb along steep, fir clad slopes.

A little ways in, the trees part long enough to allow for a fine view of the 10,000 foot peaks looming above Grant Creek's densely forested basin.

At around the half mile point, the old road pretty much levels off, and begins to contour along the mountainside at the 9400 foot level. Highlights on this stretch include old growth firs, an aspen grove, and occasional mini-meadows.

The one mile point finds the trail rounding a prominent ridge, where there is an unexpected and outstanding view down Grant Creek canyon of the Sulphur Springs Valley and the distant Galiuro Wilderness. Around the corner, the trail wades through knee-high greenery below towering engelmann spruces, before turning north near a small, nameless creek.

The vegetation now turns extremely lush, with sunflowers, ferns, and raspberry shoots crowding the trail. Spruce, aspen, and rocky mountain maple mix to create a mountain lover's heaven.

The next drainage crossing brings another nameless creek of clear, cold water, and a small campsite.

One more ridge is rounded before the ancient and practically overgrown logging road comes to a sudden end in a side drainage of Grant Creek. A strong flow of cold water and a tangled mass of enormous bracken ferns and cow parsnip plants greet you at trail's end. Return the way you came, and enjoy some of the finest country the Pinaleno Mountains has to offer!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

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

2008-07-27 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 13 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Parked at Grant Hill where I spotted a turkey hiking up the trail.
    Crossed the Swift Trail to the Cunningham TH where I found a nice wool blanket hanging in a tree :-k
    Hiked up the Spur trail to it's end :next: Off-trailed down the drainage to upper Cunningham trail :next: Took Cunningham back to the start completing the "short" loop. Excellent start to the day.
    Next up was a drive back down and around the mountain to Twilight.
    Hiked along the road and up/down to Twilight Spring. Still a little early for berries & flowers at Twilight.
    I then off-trailed across the canyon and up to cabin road and took it to it's end to visit my family's old cabin.
    A mile walk back on the cabin road & Swift Trail completed my 2nd loop for the day.

    Perfect cool mountain weather - 4 deer, 2 turkey, 5 Abert's - New wool blanket & a stroll down memory cabin lane.

    Mountain hiking then dinner with my visiting Mom on Mother's Day = :y:
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    I usually don't get too excited about old road bed trails like this, but this one is very nice. The loop goes through some very nice stands of old growth pines and firs and there was running water at most of the drainage crossings. The trail is in great condition and easy to follow. A very nice leg stretcher, or stroll if in the area. The highlight of the hike was the very large black bear that greeted us before we even reached the closed gate marking the start of the loop.
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Autumn aspen chasing trip up high today.
    Cunningham Spur :next: Cunningham Loop :next: Grant Hill Loop :next: Moonshine Creek :next: Swift Trail was the order.
    Aspens are in all stages of turn, but mostly not quite golden there, should be peak in 1-2 weeks.
    Cunningham Spur / Cunningham Loop / Grant Hill Loop / Swift Trail were all uneventful, but always nice trails.
    Moonshine Creek was the highlight! It was like someone flipped the switch once I got headed down the trail. The aspens looked good, creek was flowing good and wildlife came out around every bend including 5 deer, a dozen turkeys in the meadow, 3 Abert's squirrels & something big running down the canyon breaking tree limbs (bear or elk?). I added the climb out onto the overlook of Ft Grant prison and Moonshine falls before leaving.
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Tuesdays have quickly become my favorite day of the week.
    It's the full day that I get to spent with not only 2 great co-workers, but 2 Awesome friends!

    Addie, Lauren & Myself chose for this Tuesday a figure 8 hike combining the Grant Hill & Cunningham loops high up on Graham.
    We started with Grant Hill Loop - Wonderful greenery, the aspens are coming in nicely this year and both of the big overlooks were excellent. The sunflowers are just starting to bloom and all of the small creek crossings had some light flow.
    We then crossed over to the Cunningham Trails - We headed up the spur to start then off-trailed back down to the main loop. Again, very green with the flowers starting to do their thing. IMO this is still the best looking strand of forest that the Pinalenos has to offer!
    After completing the figure 8 with a short stroll down the Swift Trail, we decided on a quick bag of Ladybug Peak on the drive back down to get Addie's name in the register (tag Mr Sands, your it).
    Wildlife spotted on the day - 3 Abert's squirrel, 6 white-tail does, 1 mountain turkey & hundreds of unidentified caterpillars all over the trees & ground.

    Very enjoyable & entertaining day once again on the big island, Thanks AD & LM
    Cunningham Spur
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After meeting up with Nick and Chad at Mount Graham Market, Nick drove us up the Swift Trail for a Pinaleno Party. First up was Cunningham. We took Cunningham Spur to its end, then went off trail downhill to Cunningham Loop, which we hiked in its entirety in a counterclockwise direction. The aspens were wearing fresh new leaves, the creeks were flowing cold and strong, and a few patches of snow lingered on shady north facing slopes. Trees with freshly shredded bark and torn up patches of soil indicated bear season had arrived. Having completed the entire Cunningham complex, we studied the topo, then drove further up the Swift Trail for more fun...
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    preston and i had planned on getting up on graham while he was back in safford and we got chad to join us :)

    i've always wanted to check this trail out and the guys didn't need any extra convincing so we started on the cunningham spur then off trailed down to the loop and hiked that too. this high country loop is the kind of trail you could hike all day. easy grades, smooth sailing, high country views and big trees like only the sky island king mt. graham can deliver...sensational!!
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The Yeti rolled into town last night and after a text & call, I found myself 12 hours later heading up the Swift Trail with Preston & Nick for my first hikes up high on Graham for 2013 :y:

    We first hiked up and to the end of Cunningham Spur then off-trailed down along the creek until we dropped onto the Cunningham Loop Trail which we then completed counter-clockwise.
    Next we drove a couple of miles down to Columbine where we split with Preston & Nick heading up to loop Webb Peak/Blair-Ash Ridge/Ash Creek and myself going solo down the Ash Creek Trail for the out-n-back to the falls. All the trails looked great and there was good creek flow throughout.

    We then met back up at Columbine and drove back down the Swifty ending a great day of hiking on the upper Pinalenos!

    Thanks for the invite guys, good times on the big Island !!!
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Another nice Trail by a Water Rat! We woke up to a nice Sunrise at Snow Flat where we camped, got packed up and on the road in short order. Went up the Swift Trail to the Cunningham Visitor's Center, which was actually open for a change, so we checked it out, along with the beautiful Flower laden Meadow there.

    Drove back down the Swift Trail for a short distance to the TH for this Loop. Chad had already done the "traditional" Loop, so we took a Spur Trail up, and planned on doing the Upper Cunningham Trail when we got to that intersection. This allowed us to Hike the entirety of all of the Trails with the exception of a 1/4 mile of the Lower Trail where it intersects with the Swift Trail.

    The old bod was really starting to protest a little about "more uphill" since this was my 4th Hiking day in a row, but I pushed through it and enjoyed the old Forest and Wildflowers along the way....After crossing a couple of trickling drainages, we came to the end of the Spur and had to off trail downhill to meet up with the actual Lower Cunningham Trail. There was a Drainage here too, that had a light flow, so I opted to go down the hard way, following the Water and Drainage.... :D Chad opted for a slightly easier route, around the deadfall and lush foliage surrounding the Creek. I hurried a little because I knew Chad would beat me to the bottom and didn't want him to wait too long, but as it turned out, he only beat me by about 15 minutes and I got some pretty Water shots, so it was all good. The legs got some new Arizona Pinstriping, but nothing that they're not used too.... :)

    We continued on, arriving at another Creek area, where I got a few more Water pics, then we found the intersection that takes you up to the Upper Cunningham Trail. Up we go, and once at the top, it levels out nicely. This was a beautiful area and the Hike was thoroughly enjoyable. Eventually, we arrived at the Lower intersection of the Cunningham Loop and took the Lower Cunningham Trail back around to the TH we started at.

    We were the only ones on the Trail for a Saturday and you got a wonderful feeling of total isolation in an Old Growth Forest. Nice choice Chad, enjoyed this one quite a bit, even though, by the time I got back to the car, the bod was saying "enough already".... :sweat:

    Another good day in the Pinaleno Books!!! Dropped Chad off at his vehicle and then I camped at Twilight, having the huge, isolated campground to myself on a Saturday night! Unbelievable!!! :y:
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Day 2 of mine & Pam's overnight on Graham. Awoke early to cold 48 degree temps and decided on a short solo hike around Snow Flat lake before sunrise to warm up. After Pam woke up (Geez, sleep in til 5:30am why don't cha :lol: ) we packed up camp and drove first up to the Columbine visitor center where we spent about an hour. The visitor center was closed all of last year and it was real nice to see it back open again, this is a must stop for anyone traveling on top of the mountain! We then drove back down the Swift Trail and started the Cunningham hike from the east TH first taking the Cunningham Spur trail up. At the spur's end we then off-trailed down along the drainage and onto the lower Cunningham loop. Hiked the upper & lower trails returning back to the east TH to complete the big loop.

    What a great forest hike!!! IMO - This loop goes through the finest section of forest to be found anywhere on the Pinaleno mountains! This loop lacks the big overlook views that most of the upper mountain trails have, but more then makes up for it with just a beautiful lush, green walk through thick forest that has none of the fire & bark beetle damage that so many of the other trails on top have! Most of the many creek & drainage crossings had water flow and lush flora throughout and we also spotted a few white-tails crossing the trail towards the end of the loop.

    Pam then took me back down the Swift Trail just below Wet Canyon where I had parked my truck the day before and I continued back down home as she headed back up for another night on the mountain. Great trip with Great company on a Great mountain!!!
    Cunningham Spur
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After hiking Grant Hill loop I drove across the road to the Cunningham trailhead to check out the autumn colors on the otherside. Hiked to the end of the trail and back under a very overcast sky. Found a couple of nice patches of aspens along with quite a few fresh turkey tracks. On the way back down the mountain I stopped at Ladybug Peak to catch the sunset.

    Permit $$

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

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - 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 22.8 miles to an unsigned road on the right. This road is 100 feet before milepost 138, and directly opposite the Grant Hill trailhead. Turn right and follow the unsigned road for 0.2 miles to its end at the Cunningham Loop parking area (unsigned but obvious). (see hike description). Trailhead gps coordinates: 32.67087 N, 109.8808 W
    page created by PrestonSands on Jul 27 2008 10:20 pm
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