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Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM, AZ

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Guide 33 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Douglas
4.9 of 5 by 14
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Difficulty 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 0.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,798 feet
Elevation Gain 102 feet
Accumulated Gain 151 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 1.56
Dogs not allowed
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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7  2019-06-03
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
38  2019-05-24
Chiricahua National Monument Trails Loop
23  2018-04-21
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
2  2017-12-29 caragruey
39  2017-07-03 DarthStiller
13  2016-12-04 AZ_Step
11  2016-05-26 cactuscat
25  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
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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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Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Sep
Sun  6:02am - 6:21pm
Official Route
10 Alternative
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    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 of 14 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    First time to the Chiricahua National Monument, so I took the loop counterclockwise plus a trip to inspiration point and a hike afterward up Sugarloaf Mountain.

    Heart of Rocks Loop was the highlight of the trip, Though Echo Canyon is also incredible. Echo Park was burned but still enjoyable, and the SE corner of the hike around Big Balanced Rock Trail and Inspiration Point is burned as well. On the plus side, the views are expansive on this side of the loop because of the elevation and lack of trees. Inspiration Point is a nice side trip with little elevation gain. Riggs Trail was chewed up but was being worked on. The trails were so nicely maintained, you could forget you're in the wilderness.

    Sugarloaf Mountain was better than I expected, and it made more sense to add it on after I had finished with the loop; the trailhead is close by, it's short, and it doesn't take long for the payoff. Lookout was closed.

    Passed only two hikers on the trail all day, and when I got back to the car there were under a half dozen cars in the Echo Canyon lot.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Today was my 50th birthday. I decided to celebrate alone with a camping trip to Wilcox and hike I was supposed to do this time last year in Chiricahua NM. I planned on doing the Big Loop clockwise from Echo Canyon trail head. It was really cold yet at 6:15. It appeared that I had the whole park all to myself. Took the side trail out to Inspiration Point, which was well worth the trip. Then on to the Heart of Rocks loop where I ran into the first other hikers for the day. I wasn't feeling particularly well this morning, so I decided that instead of completing the loop, that I just return the way I came. Ran into some boy scouts out on a training hike. Missed the turn off for the parking area and started down the Echo Canyon trail. I enjoyed the views for a bit and then turned back to the truck.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chiricahua Nat Mon Alt Loop
    After 12 years as an Arizonan, this hike marked my first visit ever to Chiricahua National Monument. I can't believe I waited so long. The weather was perfect; not a cloud in the sky, cool and breezy.

    I call this route an alternate because the official Big Loop begins up at Echo Canyon TH and utilizes different trails. To avoid having to deal with park shuttle, I hiked from camp at Bonita Canyon Campground (that trip will be covered elsewhere) to pick up the Lower Rhyolite Canyon TH near the visitor's center.

    The trails are in great condition. As a monument of a different sort to the engineering and construction prowess of CCC crews, I marveled at the crazy waterchecks, rock cribs and other stonework that ensure the trail system will remain in place for generations to come. For better or worse, we don't make trails like these anymore.

    Heart of Rocks is not to be missed. Inspiration Point I found to be more stunning than inspiring; that's just me. The view is spectacular. This is one of only two points along my entire route where I encountered other hikers.

    Due to capture error, linked route is 1.5 miles less than actual. True distance is included here.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
    Up at 2:30a, home at 10:00pm, is close to the definition of a day hike.

    Denny provided the impetus to get this one done. If he keeps reading his food book, we'll get to a lot of other new areas. :y:

    We saw some of flocks of deer, including 2 dudes with nice racks on the way in. Also were treated to some Coatimundi while hiking. : :D :DANCE:

    We were spoiled all day with perfect weather and pristinely groomed trails. Temps ranged from 50 to no more than 68, with a breeze.

    We did a clockwise loop including side trips to Sugarloaf, Inspiration Point and Heart of Rocks Loop.

    Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail, starts off this track in the pines with sneak peeks at the hoodoos.

    Left on Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail and you start the climb to the fun.

    Bypass Hailstone Trail and hit Echo Canyon Trail. This is the crème de la crème in the park. Here you are walking amungst the tall spires. Wow, just wow.
    Echo Canyon Video :next: ... Dx1M

    A hike up Sugarloaf Mountain Trail provides a great 360 overlook of the area.
    Sugarloaf Mountain Video :next: ... WNjI

    Ed Riggs Trail and Mushroom Rock Trail lead you to the next highlight side trip.

    Inspiration Point Trail, is only a 1/2 mile one way. The destination packs some more incredible views.

    Big Balanced Rock Trail leads you to..... duh.... how does it not fall over. After the geometry lesson the
    amazing Heart of Rocks Loop is right there. Recommend doing this Clockwise for the views and to take advantage of the signage.
    Big Balanced Rock & Heart of Rocks Loop :next: ... -slI

    The Sara Demming Trail starts you back downhill. It was on this trail, in the tall pines, that we saw our swarm of Coatimundi. I found this to be an enjoyable wind down trail.

    This ones a must do, if you haven't.....

    Thanks for putting this together Denny plus Driving/Dinner.

    One word..... Hailstone
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
    De-double-n-why graciously took Bruce and myself to Rhyolite Tuff Disneyland :y:

    Lower Rhyolite is a very nice national park quality groomed trail. Echo Canyon Trail is my favorite. It made me feel like a kid gasping in glee around several turns and overlooks. We worked up to Sugarloaf then back down to Ed Riggs. It was a windy day so that was my least favorite portion. It would be a nice hike on any other day.

    Mushroom Rock looks like a Star Wars space ship. Inspiration Point is worth the overlook. Big Balanced Rock is the most fascinating balanced rock I've ever seen. Heart of Rocks Loop is a fan favorite but didn't touch my heart like Echo Canyon. Old Maid is questionable. All the other rock formations are cool.

    With little sleep heading in, Sarah Deming was a little draggy.

    After nearly two decades of anticipation it was exciting to finally see this national park!
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Heart of Rocks S Trails
    Took the CNM Shuttle to the trail head and spent the day gawking back down to the Visitor Ctr. Heart of the Rocks was a fun scramble. As a loop we chose to stash the packs for a lighter freer stride. Another tough hiking trail :) 10 steps gawk, 20 steps gawk some more etc... especially if you have a camera in hand. To enjoy the Chiricahua National Monument double any of your standard hiking times. Stayed in the campground which is nice and handy. Sites are close together tho.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    We were up at dawn on day 4 of our 8-day SE AZ road trip. The night before we'd been chastised by the camp host at Bonita Campground for taking a shower. Apparently no water was allowed to touch the ground inside the campground. We were also not to tie anything to a tree or use the sink in the rest rooms for anything beyond washing our hands. She said we should have brought a lot of baby wipes if we planned to camp and then returned to her 40-foot motor home and ran the generator all night. With a quick breakfast we headed out to the Echo Canyon trailhead, conspiring along the way on the best method for stealth showers.

    Started the Big Loop counter clockwise, so down Echo Canyon trail. Doesn't take too long to get to the grottoes. The rhyolite formations are reminiscent of the Fairyland Loop at Bryce in a way. We were all smiles and anxious for what might be ahead. Wall Street was impressive and then we descended into the cool of Echo Canyon. Progress was slow as we took time to ooh and ahh and photograph everything.

    Hit the Hailstone Trail and could see across the canyon where we'd be gaining back the elevation we were losing. The Upper Rhyolite turned us back west with several stream crossings. Soon we began the slow slog up the Sarah Deming trail along the west side of the canyon of the same name. While it was a steady uphill, there was shade and the grade was such that we made good time until the last hundred yards or so. The last bit of scrambling brought us back up on top of the formations and right to the beginning of the Heart of Rocks Loop.

    The Heart or Rocks Loop is a geologic playground. The trail requires a bit of scrambling and can be difficult to follow at times. We did notice that back in the day someone had painted red footprints on the slick rock areas. While worn, these were still faintly visible at just the right time to keep a careful trekker on the trail. A majority of the named formations are along this trail. Signs point out the more famous -- Duck on a Rock, Punch and Judy, Thors Hammer, Pinnacle Balanced Rock, etc. We took a lunch break amongst the rhyolite formations. On our way back out of the Loop we heard voices and ran into the only hikers we'd see during the entire hike -- a group of ladies who were going clockwise and thus opposite us.

    Turned east on Big Balanced Rock Trail and paid homage to its namesake. This trail was level and moderately scenic. We moved quickly. I'd kept the Inspiration Point Trail as a way to extend or shorten the total hike. If we were doing well, then it was out to the point. If we were dragging then we'd blow it off. We didn't even stop to discuss it and turned to the point. The hike is pretty flat. This area was burned years back, so there's not much to see until you hit the end. Then it is just pick a way you want to scramble out to enjoy the view and take photos down the length of Rhyolite Canyon. It was truly inspirational.

    The only thing left was Mushroom Rock Trail and then Ed Riggs back to the trailhead. We were tiring and we descended along Mushroom Rock knowing we'd have to climb again right at the end of the hike. It was still pretty, but the heat and the climb made us ready to be reminiscing on how great the day had been as we sipped a cold one back in camp.

    With high spirits and high fives we topped out at the parking lot. Definitely the highlight of our days in the Chiricahuas.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    Our original plan for the day was to drive up to Rustler Park and hike to Chiricahua Peak. The forest service told us the road was open for the weekend but will be closed on Monday for two weeks. We discovered the road was closed with no access to Rustler Park. We both scratched our heads and thought what a joke! We decided to return to the Monument and hit the Big Loop which we planned on hiking the next day.

    We parked in the Echo Canyon parking lot and headed south. All of these trails are in excellent condition and are well signed. We made quick time as we dropped into a valley and then made the easy climb up the other side. From there we detoured over to Inspiration Point and admired the view. We got there relatively early so we took a quick break and continued on to the Heart of Rocks. This is a sweet area with cool formations. We took a lunch here and enjoyed the views.

    After lunch we finished the loop and then continued down the Sarah Deming Trail and headed towards Echo Canyon. This is another sweet area with cool formations. The going was very easy as we gained elevation and topped out around early afternoon. This is the premier hike in the Monument and well worth your time.
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    the main event
    hiked the big loop from the campground, which added four miles
    left our stuff set up in camp, and didn't have to worry about it unsecured in my truck
    started the day with a huge breakfast of eggs, hash browns, bacon and sauteed onions :)
    john's coffee was excellent, too
    got going around 6:30 with the connector to the visitor's center, then up rhyolite canyon
    a steady ascent to echo canyon trail
    the grotto is a highlight and this is one of the best trails in the park
    down and up ed riggs, which had quite a bit of fire damage
    another ascent up mushroom rock, where they were doing some trail reconstruction due to flooding
    out to inspiration point
    the fire damage was quite noticeable from here, but many signs of regeneration
    views were more expansive at the expense of the trees
    stayed high on big balanced rock trail, exposed to full sun but with a good breeze
    then the best part of the hike: heart of rocks
    fun hoodoos and rock formations
    took our time here for photos
    descended the sarah deming trail and closed the loop, returning to camp down rhyolite canyon
    lots of trails to link, lots of different views
    pretty sobering changes from the 2011 fire
    wish i had a few more good pictures from 2009 for comparison
    a classic loop
    got a little warm the last couple miles
    had lunch at the campground, packed up and hit the road
    took the alternate way back to phoenix through safford, san carlos reservation and globe
    really didn't take much longer than i-10
    enjoyed seeing the west side of the pinalenos
    had a large helping of ice cream in safford :lol:
    thanks for doing the driving, john, and for your company
    it was a fun trip :)
    Heart of Rocks Loop - Chiricahua NM
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    - Inaugural Roper Lake State Park Ranger Hiking Club Adventure-
    Starring Myself, Addie & Lauren

    And there couldn't have been a better place to start then the Chiricahua National Monument!!!

    We decided on the shuttle service to drop us off at Massai Point to start. On the drive up, I was telling the driver how I had come across a black bear in the road several years ago in the spot that we were driving, 30 seconds later we rounded a corner and holy :pk: there was a Huge black bear standing in the middle of the road :o What a thrill and I got a pretty good shot of him before he moved up the embankment!

    From Massai Point we headed down into the HooDoo maze and spent the next 6 hours taking in all the splender of this truly amazing place, I shall never get tired of this Monument!
    My 2 fellow hiking Rangers were just an absolute blast to see it all with and I can't remember the last time I have laughed so much on a hike! I also cannot remember the last time I've hiked the Monument and took under 25 pictures, but today was just about having a damn good time with 2 awesome friends - Thanks AS & LM, look very forward to #2,#3,#4 .....

    Permit $$

    Coronado Forest
    MVUMs are rarely necessary to review unless mentioned in the description or directions
    Coronado Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs)

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

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To Echo Canyon Trailhead
    From I-10 exit 340 in Willcox, head south on highway 186 for about 33.2 miles to highway 181. Turn left (east) onto highway 181, and follow it for 3 miles to the Chiricahua National Monument entrance. (see fee above) Follow the road (which later becomes "Scenic Drive") for approximately 7.5 miles beyond the Monument entrance, to the sign for Echo Canyon and Sugarloaf picnic areas. Turn right, and follow the road to the turnoff for the Echo Canyon trailhead/parking area on your left. The trail begins at the far end of the Echo Canyon parking lot, next to the trail information sign.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 236 mi, 3 hours 50 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 126 mi, 2 hours 20 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 379 mi, 5 hours 56 mins
    page created by joebartels on Feb 10 2013 3:52 pm
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