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Echo Canyon Trail, AZ

Guide 38 Triplogs  0 Topics
  4.6 of 5 
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Difficulty 2.5 of 5
Distance One Way 1.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,774 feet
Elevation Gain -627 feet
Accumulated Gain 37 feet
Avg Time One Way 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.72
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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44  2022-07-02
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
28  2021-04-07
Echo Canyon Loop
10  2021-02-16 PrestonSands
2  2020-04-09
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
17  2020-01-03
Upper Rhyolite Echo Canyon
29  2019-11-04
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
14  2019-10-12
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
7  2019-06-03
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
Page 1,  2,  3
Author markthurman53
author avatar Guides 187
Routes 820
Photos 9,657
Trips 652 map ( 5,592 miles )
Age 68 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:29am - 7:18pm
Official Route
15 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimeteracres
🔥 2011 Horseshoe 2 Fire158.9 mi*

Prize of the Monument
by markthurman53


Chiricahua National Monument is on the north side of the Chiricahua Mountains in the Southeast corner of Arizona. About as far southeast as you can go in Arizona without being in New Mexico or Mexico. This is almost a fairy tale land of Rock spires, pinnacles, balanced rocks, and hoodoos where the laws of gravity don’t seem to apply. Although the park road traverses the park, to fully enjoy this park requires getting out of the car and hiking some of the 17 miles of trails. All the trails in the park are in excellent condition and well signed.

This 12000-acre park was established on April 18, 1924, to preserve the park's natural wonders of weathered volcanic tuff. In 1934 during the great depression, the CCC built the park buildings, many of which still exist today. The many park trails throughout the park today were also constructed by the CCC. Before the monument's 1880s existence, the area was settled by ranchers and, prior to that, the Apaches. The monument has displays on the history, plants, and animals of this unique environment.

Geology-wise; when the Pacific Plate was being subducted under the west coast of the North American plate, Arizona was under compression, causing the Mesozoic and Paleozoic rocks to be folded and faulted and older layers were overriding younger. Once the pacific plate spreading ridge reached the North American plate, subduction ceased, and Arizona was now under extension or stretching forces creating an alternating system of mountains and valleys (Horst and Grabens). Early on in the extensional period of Arizona, large pools of molten rock formed under areas of Arizona, and this is where Chiricahua Mountains come in. In an eruption 1000 times greater than the Mount Saint Helen eruption, this magma erupted violently and formed what is known as the Turkey Creek Caldera, a crater 12 miles across. This crater is located in the Chiricahua Mountains in Turkey Creek and west of the Chiricahua ridgeline. The resulting explosion covered the monument with ash over 2000 feet thick, forming the Rhyolitic Tuff that now caps the park. Time and weathering formed the many bazaar rock formations now seen in the park.

If you don’t mind the 2-hour drive from Tucson, Chiricahua Monument is a great place to visit and hike the scenic packed trails. This is relatively remote, so usually not crowded. The four or five times I have been there less than 50 visitors, and at least two of the times less than four cars in the park, and one of them was a park ranger (During the COVID thing).


Echo Canyon Trail has its upper trail head at the Echo Canyon Trail Head parking lot near the eastern end of the park road. This trail starts on top of the parks Rhyolitic Tuff pile and descends down Echo Canyon to its end point at the junction with the Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail and the Hailstone Trail. This is probably the most impressive trail in the park, if not for its majestic rock formations, then for the great work the CCC put into making this trail. This trail drops over 600 feet as it descends Echo Canyon through a wonderland of rock crevices, Hoodoos, and spires and eventually ends up at Echo Park. Echo Park is one of the prettiest spots in the park; it is a small meadow along Echo Canyon covered in Apache Pine, Douglas-Fir and Arizona Cypress, a really nice place to take a break-even if you don’t need one. If you are heading up this trail it is a 600 foot 1.6 mile trail but you won’t notice the climb because around every corner is something interesting to see. I think they should of named this the Ooh Ahh Trail because you will hear that a lot as you hike along the trail.

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2021-06-05 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 $$
    National Monument Fee $10-25 per 7 Days

    Chiricahua National Monument
    Chiricahua NM $5 per person / 7 Day Entrance Fee

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Interstate 10 at Wilcox, take AZ186 south about 34 miles. Take AZ181 east 3 miles to the Monument entrance. Access from the south at Douglas is along AZ186 north and AZ 181, about 60 miles. Access from the east is over a long dirt road over the Chiricahua Mountains through Portal Arizona. This eastern route is not recommended as the road may be impassable during bad weather or winter snow.
    page created by joebartels on Jun 05 2021 8:54 am
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills

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