This was a fantastic day hike from the Turkey Creek area, and a great 2nd day in the Chiricahuas. If I had only one day to do a loop here, I would combine Morse Canyon, Monte Vista, Raspberry Ridge, Chiricahua Peak, and Mormon Canyon for the best possible loop. But you really can't go wrong with any of these options!
Morse Canyon 43
This is one of the nicest trails I have ever hiked. It climbs 2000 feet in 2 miles and you almost wouldn't know it. The trail cut is exquisite! (Seriously, when do you use that word for trail!?) Beautiful shaded pine forest, and consistent, steep grade. We did it in about an hour, and I remember thinking that JJ would probably motor up it in half the time. It would actually be a great trail for running (if you're a crazy person into that sort of thing!)
Turtle Mountain 219
We hiked this trail 1.5 miles around the north side of Monte Vista Peak to the summit spur trail. It's climbs gently through some patchy burn areas but is generally in great shape and there are no problems to hike it.
Monte Vista Peak
There's a short .2 mile spur from the Turtle Mtn/Raspberry Ridge/Monte Vista junction up the east slope of the peak. The views from the lookout were the highlight of the weekend. Make this one mandatory if you're in the area.
Turtle Mountain 219
We backtracked 1.5 miles to the top of Morse where we had come up earlier but continued on Turtle Mountain 2 more miles traversing around Johnson Peak and some other small peaks and ridges. This section of trail was in great condition and included a brief uphill stretch. There were a couple of short sections with easy deadfall, but for the most part this is pleasant hiking in unburned, healthy pine forest.
Pole Bridge 264
Upon reaching the saddle at the top of Pole Bridge Canyon, we began the steep descent. This trail was in fine shape and reasonably nice, but nothing compared to Morse Canyon. The first mile is steep, and features numerous switchbacks through an exposed burn area. There were a couple of spots where finding the trail took a second glance, but nothing treacherous. The grade moderated at the bottom of the canyon and the trail just followed the drainage, which was dry until the last mile or so when we encountered some pools of water. The bottom part of the trail appears to have once been an old road, and an older fire had burned through the area. Recent trail maintenance has made it fairly easy to follow, but the burn has left little shade and the lower elevation here makes it considerably warmer than the rest of the hike.
From the bottom of Pole Bridge, we had to hoof it a mile back up the road to camp in order to finish the loop. There were joined Kyle and Claire enjoying beverages by the fire before packing up and heading for delicious tacos at BKs in Tucson on the way home!