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Heart of Rocks Loop Trail, AZ

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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance Loop 0.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,797 feet
Elevation Gain 123 feet
Accumulated Gain 207 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 1 hour
Kokopelli Seeds 1.84
Backpack No
Dogs not allowed
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28  2021-04-07
Echo Canyon Loop
markthurman53
10  2021-02-14
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
gummo
2  2020-04-09
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
toddak
29  2019-11-04
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
BiFrost
14  2019-10-12
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
kyleGChiker
7  2019-06-03
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
LJW
38  2019-05-24
Chiricahua National Monument Trails Loop
markthurman53
23  2018-04-21
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
Nightstalker
Page 1,  2,  3
Author markthurman53
author avatar Guides 162
Routes 683
Photos 7,885
Trips 532 map ( 4,888 miles )
Age 67 Male Gender
Location Tucson, Arizona
Historical Weather
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Preferred   Oct, Nov, Mar, Apr → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  5:12am - 7:26pm
Official Route
 
13 Alternative
 
Water


unusual rhyolite aorta
by markthurman53

CHIRICAHUA NATIONAL MONUMENT

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).

HEART OF ROCKS LOOP

Overview
The Heart of Rocks Trail, along with the Echo Canyon Trail, are probably the two must-do trails in the park. There is more to see all along these trails than any other trail. This is a trail where you have to just let your imagination go. The CCC did a great job winding this 0.8-mile loop trail through as many nooks and crannies, hoodoos, pinnacles, balanced rocks, and otherwise odd-looking formations as they could. Signs point out the more obvious ones; your imagination will fill in the rest. The trail is well marked because getting lost amongst the rocks could definitely be a problem. This trail is best done by doing a loop hike with the Mushroom Rock, Big Balanced Rock, and Sarah Deming Trail. How much larger a loop you want to do depends on how far you want to walk.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2021-06-06 markthurman53
    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


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Connector trail - Not Applicable

    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 06 2021 12:00 pm
    90+° 8am - 6pm kills
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