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Mormon Canyon Trail #352, AZ

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Guide 13 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Douglas
4 of 5 by 6
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 2.69 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,227 feet
Elevation Gain 2,398 feet
Accumulated Gain 2,402 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 10.69
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
15  2016-09-20 rwstorm
34  2016-06-04
Morse Canyon - Mormon Canyon Loop
18  2016-04-23
Chiricahua Peak 9,742
21  2016-04-23
Chiricahua Peak via Turkey Creek
30  2016-04-23
Chiricahua Peak 9,742
30  2015-09-19
Chiricahua Figure 8 Loop
44  2011-10-02
Mormon Ridge & Canyon Loop
45  2011-10-02
Mormon Canyon Loop - Chiricahua
Page 1,  2
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
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Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Aug
Sun  6:05am - 6:15pm
Official Route
8 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby

Likely In-Season!
Mormon Ridge Trail #269, Mormon Canyon Trail #352 & Saulsbury Trail #263 lead from the road up West Turkey Creek (FR 41) to the Crest Trail in the vicinity of Chiricahua and Flys Peak. Since their trailheads are all located fairly close together they offer a number of possibilities for loop routes into the Chiricahua Wilderness high country.

Saulsbury Trail leads up the canyon of the same name to the north and east, then climbs up and out of the canyon and over Little Bull. Mountain to its junction with the Crest Trail. This route offers good views of West Turkey Creek Canyon, Rock Creek Canyon and the Sulphur Springs Valley. It can be hot if you traverse it during midday.

Mormon Ridge and Mormon Canyon Trails are both located south of Saulsbury and are aimed almost directly at Chiricahua Peak. Mormon Ridge is quite steep and many choose to follow it down, rather than up, if they use the trails to form a loop. Since it clings to the south-facing slope of Mormon Canyon, it can also be quite hot. These trails cross near the head of Mormon Canyon. From that junction, Mormon Ridge goes north toward Cima Park and Mormon Canyon goes south to Chiricahua Saddle. Both are points along the Crest Trail #270. These trails traverse a wide range of biologic zones. Starting out among plants characteristic of the Upper Sonoran Desert such as Schott's yucca and silverleaf oak, the trails climb into a forest of Engelmann spruce, a species found as far north as British Columbia. Mormon Canyon Trail passes through a picturesque riparian area that includes a number of Rocky Mountain maples. Those who visit in autumn will want to pass this way and enjoy the fall colors.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot

    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
    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Morse Canyon - Mormon Canyon Loop
    Old but memorable trip so figured I would share. A few weeks prior I had hike around Chiricahua NM and wanted to camp at Turkey Creek and hike around to at least see Monte Vista Peak or Chiricahua Peak. My birthday was over the weekend and got a few like minded individuals together for a nice weekend of camping, hiking, and relaxing as far away from Phoenix as possible.

    Started the day much later than anticipated, planned for start of the Morse Canyon TH about 530 but turned into 7ish. Didn't seem a big deal at first but nearing the end we would miss those 2 extra hours. Morse Canyon was an enjoyable easy to follow trail blanketed with pine needles that just seemed like a never ending ramp. Our group consisted of differing ability levels so very slow speed, plenty of breaks, and many words of encouragement. Great views and fallen logs to pass as annoying as they were it was fun to clear the log obstacles. We all felt like the worst was over once we reached Morse Saddle. This is where my troubles began, had to do some impromptu foot care as I was getting nasty hotspots on the last .5 mile of the trail.

    Quick rest and continued on to Monte Vista Peak. Hike was much less of a climb but still noticed the incline especially when nearing the junction for Monte Vista Peak. The trail up Monte Vista seemed to have the most challenging terrain with a few fallen trees that were quite large. We all looked like we were playing in a charcoal grill all soot covered by the time we made it to Monte Vista Peak. Holy cow, the views up here were simply amazing and gave crystal clear views to the surrounding ranges and sky islands.

    Originally planned to hit Chiricahua Peak after Monte Vista Peak but our rate of travel and current time had us skip it. We continued along crest trail #270B towards Raspberry Ridge surrounded by encroaching new forest growth, fallen trees, and signs of past forest fire everywhere. In some cases the trail was soft patches of ash. At Raspberry Ridge we got one of the best experiences as two A-10s were doing mock attack runs down the ridge. They circled back and approached us a few hundred feet above. We waved, screamed, and the lead plane rewarded us with a wing tip and thumb's up from the cockpit. Pilot so close felt like you could reach up and high-5 him. His partner was a little more conservative and passed us higher up and only then was I smart enough to grab my camera.

    Crest Trail to Mormon Trail Saddle was beautiful especially at Painted Rock but this was where we all started to feel the heat and sun. Trail was mostly exposed here and just felt like it was kicking our ass even though it was mostly level.

    We all cheered when we reached Mormon Saddle and started down Mormon Canyon or as we would later call it god-damned Mormon Canyon or never ending Mormon Canyon due to the very rough terrain and poor trail conditions. Got our second surprise of the day when we startled a slumbering black bear and her cub about .5 mile in. They were on the opposite side of the creek and fled full speed away clearing the ridge within 30 seconds. Never expected bear to move that fast. Clearing Mormon Canyon was the greatest feeling ever as it signaled celebration with cold water, cold beer, and junk food.

    Things I learned from this trip:
      Chiricahuas in June is hot (duh).
      Never try new hiking socks for first time on a trip like this.
      Have plenty of moleskin and blister care with me.
      Chiricahuas are full of wildlife, plan accordingly.
      Black bears are not tiny, black bears are not slow.
      Never, ever, ever open the door to the outhouse on top of Monte Vista Peak. Ever.

    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Little overnight loop: up the Morse Canyon, Crest Trail to Chiricahua Saddle, then over to HQ spring where I spent the night. Hiked out the next morning down the Mormon Canyon trail. The latter was much easier to follow than some of the triplogs suggest. A little steep in spots, but not bad.

    Columbine in full bloom near Mormon Spring. Rocky Mountain Iris in bloom in several places.
    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Great day hike to the top of the Chiricahuas! Nice intro to the range for me too since I had not previously been anywhere near this part of the state before.

    First impression: The Chiricahuas are unlike other sky islands in that they really are a mountain range, rather than just a single primary peak. Lots of peaks, ridges, and valleys and a very well developed trail system. I was afraid that the Horseshoe fires had destroyed this entire island, but was pleased to find quite a bit of beautiful forest, some old growth pines, and areas of healthy regrowth. The fire scarred areas can be jarring to see, but there's also some beauty to be found from them too. The variety makes it interesting.

    Things I learned: Turkeys can fly! We saw rafter after rafter of these enormous birds. Thanks to a little canine encouragement, I was impressed to see how easy a 40-lb chunk of thanksgiving feast can get off the ground. I wouldn't use the word "graceful" but nonetheless, they would easily qualify as air force pilots in a third world country. :)

    Mormon Canyon #352
    We headed up this canyon trail and it is a real gem. The climb is relentless, steep, and features no breaks, but the terrain is shaded, cool, and serene. Water flowing in the creek for the first half made for pleasant conditions for the pups. Only the very top section had burned, but the trail was well maintained, and the burn opened up some great views.

    The north cut toward Crest near Cima Park
    At the top of Mormon Canyon and the junction with Mormon Ridge 269 we opted to head for the Crest trail via a trail on the north side of Chiricahua Peak. This is a terrible idea. This trail has been abandoned. Fire damage, erosion, deadfall, and new growth has taken over, and this trail should not be attempted. I've seen varying sources name this trail as the continuation of either Mormon Canyon or Mormon Ridge. Either way, don't bother with this one.

    Crest Trail #270
    I eventually hit the Crest Trail well south of Cima Park after making a direct ascent for the ridge. The ridge has been badly burned, but the Crest trail has been well maintained and is a relative highway.

    Anita Spring Trail
    I wanted to check out Anita Park and Anita Spring, and didn't see any sign of a route to get there anymore. I eventually circled the rocky outcropping at Anita Park off trail and headed toward the spring I had marked on my GPS. Despite the burn, the spring looked and tasted fantastic. Good flow and a great source of water. From the spring, it was easy to follow the tread of the old trail back up to the Crest. The sign is missing but there's a post which I somehow missed on the way by earlier.

    Chiricahua Peak Trail
    The Crest trail traverses the east side of Chiricahua Peak and didn't look particularly well-traveled. I headed up the peak trail to meet up with the others who had gotten ahead of me while I had been exploring Anita. The peak trail is in fine shape and easy to follow despite the burn.

    Chiricahua Peak Southeast Descent
    Maps showed a trail descending the southeast slope of Chiricahua Peak, but after a quick search, the group came up empty, and didn't want to repeat the experience above Mormon Canyon, so they all headed back the way they came, while I decided to look for the trail. After not too long, I found an old cut to follow, and this side of the peak didn't burn so travel is easy even if there had not been a trail. I followed the easy track until I joined the obvious junction with the Crest Trail that traverses the east side of the peak. It looked much better traveled on this end.

    Route Scout was telling me I was close to Headquarters Spring. I opted not to make the trip since it dropped farther down the hill than I was willing to go. Shortly thereafter I arrived at a sign for Ojo Agua Fria #361, which I also skipped. Now in wide open, sandy burn area, I looked for the trail that cut back to the west, and didn't see an obvious cut. But just a few steps later I reached the well-marked junction with Crest Trail 270D to Chiricahua Saddle ... where I was headed.

    Crest Trail #270D
    This stretch of the crest trail that traverses the southern side of Chiricahua Peak was some of the nicest high-elevation trail of the trip. The eastern end traverses a gravelly burned slope before entering unburned forest and traversing some great rocky landscape and unbelievable trail construction through a boulder slope. It drops easily to Chiricahua Saddle, where I headed north a hundred yards to meet up with the others who had just arrived from the other side of the peak to get here. It's a short stretch through some burn with a couple of deadfall obstacles descending to the north and the junction of Mormon Canyon and Ridge trails where we had been earlier in the morning.

    Mormon Ridge Trail #269
    Claire, 9L and I decided to take the ridge trail, while the others took the canyon back down. The trail is impressively built, and generally easy to travel. I would not want to ascend this way, and in fact, having now done it once, I would probably stick with the canyon trail on the way down as well. It descends just below a south facing ridge, so the flora is small and desert-like, despite the elevation. It is exposed to sun and warmed up nicely despite the strong winds we had endured all day. The area from just above the wilderness boundary to the bottom had received recent maintenance. There were a couple of sections that were so well maintained, I wondered if they had brought the "trail machine" out there!

    Turkey Creek back to camp
    The Ridge trail reaches Turkey Creek road about half a mile below where the Canyon trail begins, so to complete the loop you have to do a short road walk. I hopped along the creek instead, finding a couple of cascades, a neat section of narrows with a dam, as well as a natural waterfall. I then found the old road cut on the opposite side of the creek as the current alignment and followed that in a pleasant forest setting adjacent to the creek. There were signs of an old homestead too. I continued upstream to the waterfall just below our camp where I got to brush up on my Spanish before settling into a chair with an ice cold beer and newfound socks!

    This was an extremely enjoyable day hike and—except for that short stretch of trail that doesn't exist anymore and can be easily avoided—is an ideal trip for anybody staying in the Turkey Creek area. Thanks to 9L for planning this one! :)
    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Chiricahua Peak via Turkey Creek
    Chiricahua Peak has been on my to do list for at least a year. Claire & I had plans to hike it back in September but the road to Rustler Park was unexpectedly closed so we stayed near the National Monument. After the trip I did some research and saw trip reports starting from the west side in Turkey Creek. This looked like a great option and we worked out all the details and hit the road on Friday afternoon. Our plan is to day hike on Saturday & Sunday and hit a variety of trails in the area.

    Chumley, Claire, Kyle and myself left Phoenix around 1pm and made the drive to the Chiricahuas. We made good time and found ourselves at Sycamore Camp around 4:30pm. The established campground was about half full with four parties so we continued up the road and spotted a sweet site right next to the creek. The turn off was blocked with some medium size rocks and we weren’t sure if it was a legal site. Chumley and I both had the motorized use plan PDF on our phones and saw this truly was legal camping so we moved the rocks and drove down. The site is magnificent with a fire ring and lots of room for camping. We set up camp and then drove back down the dirt road to get cell signal so we could text FOTG our camp location and other important items. Did someone forget hiking shoes?!?!

    Saturday morning started slow for everyone. FOTG and Jackie arrived around midnight and all of us took our time with breakfast and gearing up. Our group of six people and four dogs left camp around 9am and walked down the road to Mormon Canyon Trail. We hit the trail and started making our way up canyon. This is a really nice trail that parallels the creek most of the way. It’s a steady gain that had all of us huffing and puffing as we made our way up. We took short breaks when needed and continued the climb up. The trail eventually leaves the creek and makes a few more switchbacks before leveling off at a saddle that is the junction with the Mormon Ridge Trail.

    We took a short break and discussed our options. The known route heads to the southeast before turning for Chiricahua Peak. I noticed an old trail on some of the forest service maps that heads to the north. I didn’t have any info on the trail and made a hand drawn route for us to follow. We decided to go for it and this turned out to be a mistake. The route was very overgrown with lots of deadfall. I felt bad for the dogs but we kept pushing through. We could see the trail cut but had a very hard time staying on it. About a third of a mile across the route was completely consumed by new growth so we decided to bushwhack straight up the mountain. The going was very slow and difficult as each step slid down about six inches in loose dirt. We eventually topped out near Anita Park and were glad to be on the Crest Trail.

    Once on the Crest Trail we made the final push for Chiricahua Peak. This last stretch was fairly easy besides some deadfall to navigate. Once up top we took an extended break and enjoyed the summit. The views are limited from all the trees but I didn’t mind. The temps were perfect with a nice breeze and I enjoy the cool mountain air at elevation. After our break we looked for an alternative route down the east side of the peak but couldn’t find an established route. We didn’t want to experience another route finding fiasco so all of us, except Chumley, went down the way we came up. From there we connected to Chiricahua Saddle. This trail was in good shape for the most part other than more deadfall. Once at the saddle we met back up with Chumley and continued down.

    Our group decided to split at the top of Mormon Ridge & Mormon Canyon. FOTG, Jackie & Kyle decided to stay in the canyon so they could water the dogs. Claire, Chumley and myself headed down the Mormon Ridge Trail which was in good condition for the most part. There was some deadfall but no major issues. We made relatively good time as we headed down. The sun was beating down and I wouldn’t want to climb this trail on a hot and sunny day. We eventually hit the road which we followed back to camp returning around mid-afternoon.

    This was a nice day on the trails. I really enjoyed the Mormon Canyon and Mormon Ridge Trails. I also enjoyed Chiricahua Peak. It doesn’t have the expansive views like Mount Wrightson but is still a quality peak. My biggest takeaway is the vast trail system in this range. Trails are all over the place and I would love to explore more of them. A return trip is definitely in the plans for some point in the future. Thanks to Chumley and FOTG for both driving.
    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    I got an invite from John for a car camping weekend in the Chiricahuas and I was quick to accept. I have always been intrigued by the Chiricahuas, but I have been too preoccupied with other areas of the state to make the long drive and commit to something in that area. This weekend's hikes offered a nice intro into the area, a county high point, great hikings and some quality camping in the pines.

    Chiricahua Peak was tabbed for Saturday. I was very elated to know that I was going to stumble across another county high point in this hike and initially thought that might be the highlight of this hike. As it turned out, the peak was pleasant, but the views were limited and the real highlights of the hike were probably some stretches along the ridgelines and the lower portions of Mormon Canyon. The first couple of miles up Mormon Canyon Trail were very pleasant with running water a couple of robust springs and some nice stands of pine. The hike then becomes a bit of a relentless climb, but nothing too overwhelming and along generally well-kept trails.

    We tried an alternate approach to the summit and took a trail with little beta on it and only a hand drawn route. After a somewhat promising start, it turned out to not workout at all for us. After losing any semblance of the tread and some time spent navigating the eroded slope, most of us made the decision to shoot straight up the seemingly less-overgrown over hillside to our ridgeline trail that led to the summit. The climb was tough, but for us it seemed like a better alternative than continuing our off-trail contour along the steep slope.

    It was nice to see several surviving pines on the summit, but they do hinder the great views one might expect from a county high point. We enjoyed our time on the peak nevertheless and after an extended stay finally made our way down. We opted for the out and back return minus the alternate route because it offered more shade and guaranteed water for the pups. The hike down was a bit of a knee-jarring ride at times, but it went by quick even with a few stops to let the dogs have their fun in the water.

    In the end Mormon Canyon Trail made the hike for me, but I was happy to knock out a high point and the views while limited were still certainly redeeming enough to warrant the climb. The burnt out sections were a bit of a bummer. However, I thought there were enough nice stretches of great forest and areas seemingly untouched by previous fires to keep the scenic factor pretty top notch. There are also some pretty promising signs of rebirth in some of the burnt out areas to keep one positive about the future of this area.
    Mormon Canyon Trail #352
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    So today was the day that I thot I was gonna attempt a 12 mile hike with serious elevation, for me anyway. So wrong Chiricahua breath! I realized after the first 2 miles and gosh knows how much elevation gain, the later start, the lack of fuel in my body and the ominous weather, the chances weren't good. :(

    This first four miles is a doozy :sweat: though incredible :D . It gets even more scenic the higher you get. I particularly liked the views toward the Dragoons where I had been two weeks earlier. And of course there's the view of the Peaks (Johnson, Monte Vista) to your south that attract your interest.

    The trail got dicey in a couple sections. One time it was particularly tricky but come to find out, we had missed an immediate switchback which we noticed as we were making our way back across the side of the hill. Randy realized a couple times that he should have turned & I should have been paying more attention too :doh: instead of going straight so it's important that a person be mindful of these abrupt switchback turns. The wrong way had been properly blocked but with the fire and water and such, those road blocks had been moved around a bit and were quite subtle. But I don't mind a little scrambling so it was actually kind of fun.

    Probably the 8) est part of this trek was when we got to the top of one of the switchbacks where we were treated to spectacular, almost 360 degree views. We took a 10 minute break here. Little did we know what a fantastic show we would get as we walked across the north side of the ridge. Though there was some burn, the greenery and the wildflowers above Ward Canyon and beyond were absolutely magnificent :y: . We were very happy hikers. Plus an added bonus, this was the level part of the hike for about 10 minutes. It was great.

    Eventually you get back over to the south side of the ridge above Mormon Canyon and it's back to the up and up :sweat: . The up is not dramatic, it's just forever it seems. The weather would threaten from time to time so Randy wanted us to keep going steady. As we were walking along through some great wildflowers, I told Randy I wasn't gonna be able to do the entire hike. He had already given me two bailout routes and I told him, I wanted to take the bailout at Mormon Saddle and head down the canyon rather than try the ridge and the rest of the hike. We were fighting time and weather, I was fighting hunger at this point.

    Eventually I kept plugging along and still managed to enjoy almost all of this ridgeline elevation except the 1/2 mile before we finally got into a more protected area where Randy timidly proclaimed there looked to be another corner to go around and I proclaimed, I had to eat :lol: . He agreed that this spot would work fine. It did turn out to be a scenic area with nice views across Ward Canyon toward the Saulsbury Crest Trail area and Anita Peak. It was nice to see some of the various peaks in the Chiricahuas in person. Here is the video from the Ridge part of the hike:

    We ended up probably being about 1/4-1/3 mile from the Junction. I am glad we chose to have lunch where we did because I thot the views were much better. Next, it was all downhill :DANCE: as they say. This wasn't the easiest downhill but at least I didn't need as much lung power. It was here I was particularly glad Randy had done this part of the hike a few times last year as the trail was no where to be found in a couple cases :-k . Eventually of course, we would hook back up with the trail.

    The scenery was so interesting especially the deeper we got into the canyon. And as we got deeper there were cairns that helped guide us as the trail would disappear again. We passed by some cool mossy covered rocks and trees. Randy told me we should be coming closer to the where the water suddenly appeared from under the rocks. Soon I hear him say, "I think the creek is just ahead". Less than one minute later we are struggling to get our jackets on as quickly as possible :o .
    No, it wasn't the creek, it was a hail storm :lol: (which I thot I was filming but apparently I didn't press the movie button never engaged). We would hear the creek flowing in about 10-15 minutes. So now if you're ever hiking with Randy and he says he thinks the creek is just ahead, grab your jacket. This moment, in spite of the hail, provided great levity.

    I think because this is such a long and tightly-treed canyon, it gives off a sense of spookiness :scared: but especially on this kind of weather day. As we started to get closer to the bottom, we came across an area where I noticed debris up in the tree and then in another tree. At first we were surpised that the water would have flowed that high, well above us, but then realized the water had probably got caught between some very tall boulders and had pooled up. That must have been something. Here is the video from the Canyon part of the hike:

    Soon we were back at camp, having a beer, taking down the tarp and on the road but not before stopping at John Ringo's gravesite. I had read a little about him while doing my research for this hike. His death is very interesting. We were also lucky to enjoy a beautiful sunset all around us and lightning storms in the very far north and east as we made our way toward Benson on Dragoon Road via Sunizona. We had a great Mexican meal at a restaurant Randy wanted to try on main street before we parted ways in Tucson.

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    Coronado Forest
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    Map Drive

    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 the Turkey Creek turnoff (FR 41). Follow this road 8 miles east to the Saulsbury Trailhead, located on FR 632 off of FR 41. The Mormon Ridge and Mormon Canyon Trailhead is located at Sycamore Campground on FR 41. These roads are rough and dusty and may be muddy and slick when wet. There is a flash flood danger at water crossings following summer and winter storms.
    page created by joebartels on Dec 09 2012 1:54 pm
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