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Mormon Ridge Trail #269, AZ

Guide 17 Triplogs  1 Topic
  3.4 of 5 
346 17 1
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 4.4 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,153 feet
Elevation Gain 2,977 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,983 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.34
Interest Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All MineFollowing
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2021-11-15
Saulsbury Trail #263
11  2021-03-06 clayncallaway
24  2020-11-12
Crest Trail #270 - Barfoot Park Rd to Jct Sdl
27  2020-07-20
Mormon Canyon Pole Bridge Loop
29  2019-11-18
Saulsbury Mormon Ridge Loop
8  2019-08-21
Chiricahua & Monte Vista Peak Loop
11  2018-10-19 element58
8  2018-09-16 gummo
Page 1,  2
author avatar Guides 187
Routes 826
Photos 9,755
Trips 658 map ( 5,627 miles )
Age 69 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
Expand Map
Preferred Mar, Apr, Nov, Oct → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:38am - 7:07pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2011 Horseshoe 2 Fire158.9 mi*
🔥 1994 Rattlesnake Fire50.4 mi*
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥
*perimeter length in miles

Ridge Trail with a Confusing Ending
by markthurman53


The Chiricahua Mountains are located in far southeast Arizona on the New Mexico and Mexico border. This mountain is probably the remotest of the over 9000 feet high sky island ranges. The closest towns are Wilcox, 40 miles to the north, and Douglas, about the same to the south. No paved roads enter this range except a short portion on the east side of the range near Portal, Arizona, and there isn’t any short way to get there. One dirt road traverses the range from the west side near the Chiricahua Monument and ends at Portal on the east side. There are two dirt roads on the west side; Turkey Creek and Rucker Canyon allow access to the west side trails. The remoteness makes for great hiking if you prefer solitude. Many of the trails are in poor condition with a few exceptions, ravaged by the Rattlesnake fire in 1994 and the Horseshoe 2 fire of 2011. If you are into route finding, then this is the place to hike.


The Lower end of the Mormon ridge Trail #269 is along Turkey Creek Road FR41, just past Saulsbury turnoff. Its upper end is along the Crest Trail #270B near Chiricahua Saddle. Unlike Mormon Canyon Trail #352, this trail is in pretty good condition. This trail follows along a ridge that separates Mormon Canyon from Ward Canyon and continues up toward Chiricahua Saddle on the southwest side of Chiricahua Peak. The Mormon Ridge Trail does not follow along the crest of the ridge but just below on the south side, and because of this, it can be a bit warm. Great views overlook Mormon Canyon. This is a fairly steep trail with about 3000 feet of AEG, taking you from Oak, Juniper forests to Ponderosa and Fir Tees. Many loop hikes along the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains can be made using this trail as one of the legs.

Everyone agrees as to where the lower end of the Mormon Canyon Trail #352 and the Mormon Ridge Trail #269 is, but there is some confusion as to where these trails end. The Forest Service website says the Mormon Ridge Trail heads up to Mormon Saddle, then heads north to The Crest Trail #270 just south of Cima Park, and the Mormon Canyon Trail from Mormon Saddle heads south to the Crest Trail #270B near Chiricahua Saddle. The actual signage says differently. The section of the Mormon Ridge trail from Mormon Saddle to Cima Park does not exist anymore, no signs at either end, in fact, no trail in between either. When I hiked that route a few years ago, there was no sign of a trail. It was a bushwhack across rocky taluses and an aspen tree log hop. I couldn’t even find any trace of where the trail leaves the Crest Trail. The current consensus (at least among those that matter) is that the Mormon Canyon Trail ends at Mormon Ridge at the Mormon Ridge Trail, and the Mormon Ridge Trail ends near Chiricahua Saddle on the Crest Trail #270B. This agrees with the signage along the trail. There may have been a trail to Cima Park at one time, but the Horseshoe 2 fire wiped it out (I’m guessing it was the Horseshoe 2 Fire, there have been a couple over the last 20 years).

The signed Trailhead is along Turkey Canyon Road FR41, about 0.4 miles past the Saulsbury turnoff. The Mormon Ridge Trail immediately heads toward Turkey Creek (300 feet) and crosses it. Once past the Creek, the trail begins its relentless climb. It parallels Turkey Creek for the first 0.5 miles as it continues to climb up to the ridge. At 0.8 miles, it reaches a saddle on the ridge and continues its upward climb staying just below the ridge on the south side. The trail has a pretty consistent 15% grade, and in the places where the ridge heads up steeply, the trail keeps up using switchbacks. There are three sets of switchback along this trail to the junction with Mormon Canyon Trail. These sets of switchbacks, about 2 or 3 to a set, are pretty evenly spaced over a 3 mile stretch of trail to Mormon Saddle and the junction with Mormon Canyon Trail. At 3.5 miles, the trail levels off a bit at Mormon Saddle, The Mormon Canyon Trail #352 comes in from the west. There are good views from the Saddle looking down Mormon Canyon to the west, Ward and Saulsbury Canyons to the north, and Chiricahua Crest to the east. The old Mormon Ridge Trail up to Cima Park heads off somewhere from this saddle for those into a little bloodletting. The existing Mormon Ridge Trail continues from the saddle in a southeast direction at first, then south toward Chiricahua Saddle. This trail is in fair condition and easy to follow. After 0.6 miles is the signed junction with the Crest Trail #270B. This section from the saddle is heavily forested and the views limited; well, the distant views are, but the close-in ones are great.

This trail has many options for loop hikes, either heading south along the Crest Trail 270B or heading north along the Crest Trail 270. Many connector trails will bring you back to close proximity of where you started:
Morse Canyon Trail #43
Pole Bridge Trail #243
Saulsbury Trail #263
Rock Canyon Trail #269

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2021-07-16 markthurman53

    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.

    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 Tucson, Take I-10 east for 72 miles to US 191. Turn South 21 miles to AZ 181 and drive 12 miles east to Turkey Creek Turnoff FR41. Continue on Turkey Creek Road 9.6 miles to trail head (.4 miles past the Saulsbury road FR632). This road is rough and dusty and may be muddy and slick when wet. The usual flashflood warnings apply during monsoon season.
    page created by joebartels on Jul 16 2021 4:51 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
    Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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