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Half a trail is better than no trail
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 easy way to get there. One dirt road traverses the range from the west side near the Chiricahua Monument and ends at Portal. 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.
RATTLESNAKE TRAIL #275
This trail extends between Pine Creek at the Rattlesnake Creek junction and the Upper Rock Creek Trail #259, passing over Witch Ridge. To get to the Rattlesnake Canyon Trailhead, you will have to walk 1.4 miles along the old FR357 from the Methodist Camp, where the road is blocked. From the trailhead, the Rattlesnake Trail heads up Rattlesnake Canyon around the west side of Rattlesnake Peak to a small saddle on Witch Ridge. The trail crosses over the ridge and heads down into Rock Creek, where it ends at a junction with the Upper Rock Creek Trail #259. The trail down to Rock creek is almost completely gone… no, it is completely gone and is therefore a total bushwhack. This trail is signed at both ends, but the signs have seen better days. At least half the trail is there.
From the Methodist Camp, the trail to the Rattlesnake Trailhead follows the old FR357 Pine Canyon road. This old road follows along the creek, crossing over multiple times before coming to a Y in the creek (1.4 miles); Pine Creek veers off to the left and Rattlesnake Creek to the right. Look around the area, and you might see a sign indicating the Rattlesnake Trail; it was there in 2019 but was looking pretty bad. The trail as it heads upstream stays pretty much to the east of the creek, crossing over occasionally but always tending toward the east side. The trail is not in good condition, but I followed it without a lot of difficulties. Having a GPS route was helpful. At 1.3 miles, Rattlesnake Creek splits one heads due east along the south side of Rattlesnake Peak, the other heads southeast up to witch Ridge. From this junction, the trail leaves the creek heading east at first, then west up to the ridge. It is a relatively easy and consistent grade up to the ridge.
At the ridge is the Junction of the Witch Ridge Trail #260 that heads west down along the ridge and the Bootlegger Trail #257 that heads east up the ridge. There is a sign still standing at this junction pointing out Bootlegger Trail #257. The sign for the Rattlesnake and Witch Ridge Trail was on the ground under some bushes. I moved it to a more readable location. This sign indicated the Rattlesnake Trail crosses over the ridge and heads down to Rock Creek and the Witch Ridge heads west. From the Saddle are good views to the northeast of Barfoot Peak and park and to the East of the Chiricahua Crest in the vicinity of Flys Peak. Views to the south are over Rock Creek.
Now for the trail down to Rock Creek, get your GPS out and make your best guess. Pick a route close to what your GPS is telling you, then go in the direction of least resistance. The brush is thick, and I recommend pants and long sleeves. I did not see anything that even resembled a trail the whole way. I take that back. At the Rock Creek Trail junction, there was a sign indicating the Rattlesnake Trail but no trace of a trail. Do this hike only if you have a fetish for doing old abandon trails and have some desire to inflict pain on your body; I enjoyed it once I was done.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
This is a more difficult hike. It would be unwise to attempt this without prior experience hiking.
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.