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Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318, AZ

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Guide 15 Triplogs  3 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3 of 5 by 2
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance One Way 2.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,520 feet
Elevation Gain 1,818 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,911 feet
Avg Time One Way 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.97
Backpack Possible & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
15  2017-10-06 SkyIslander18
6  2012-01-05 SkyIslander18
20  2007-03-18 PrestonSands
6  2007-01-21 PrestonSands
Author PrestonSands
author avatar Guides 168
Routes 149
Photos 5,534
Trips 1,317 map ( 6,690 miles )
Age 42 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Apr, Oct, Mar, Nov → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Early Winter
Sun  6:07am - 6:17pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
high noon
by PrestonSands

Note: Page data reflect #318 one-way segment. The description below is for an 8.5mi / 2,550 aeg / 5 hour round-trip hike.

The Noon Creek Ridge Trail climbs Noon Creek Ridge on the eastern slope of Heliograph Peak, in Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains. Noon Creek Ridge was named for Noon Creek, which was the old midday rest stop for summer visitors headed to the cool forests of Mt. Graham. Two trailheads access this trail: the lower (main) trailhead, and the upper trailhead (which cuts about a mile off of the hike). Personally, I recommend starting at the upper trailhead as it bypasses the rather uneventful first mile and a half of the Noon Creek Ridge Trail. Total mileage listed here is for a round trip hike over the entire trail. Subtract 2 miles for a round trip hike if you start at the upper trailhead.

Starting from the lower trailhead, you will need to follow the Round The Mountain Trail #302 for about 0.15 miles to the beginning of the Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318. Turn left onto the Noon Creek Ridge Trail to begin the 2500 foot climb up Noon Creek Ridge. For the first mile or so the trail steadily ascends through an oak and juniper woodland and passes in and out of areas scorched by the 2004 Nuttall Fire. To the south, the Swift Trail and Jacobson Creek seem to climb at the same rate as the trail.

At 1.5 miles the Noon Creek Ridge Trail arrives at the junction with the shortcut trail coming up from the upper trailhead. The little shortcut trail drops 400 feet in a half mile to the unmarked trailhead.

Continuing on from the junction, the trail turns north and soon arrives at the 6557 foot saddle. There are some spectacular views of the massive ridges to the north, including awesomely rugged Deadman Peak. When snow covers the barren rocky cliffs of Deadman Peak in winter, it looks like it belongs in the Colorado Rockies. From the saddle the trail turns west and finally begins to tackle the ridge in earnest. Now on the north side of the ridge, you will enter a blackened pine forest. As of this writing, dozens of fallen logs block the trail as it climbs a couple long switchbacks up to the 6800 foot level. Thousands of young silver oak trees have sprouted in this area. A few more switchbacks and the trail reaches another saddle on the crest of the ridge at 2.5 miles. Just beyond here the trail clings to a steep rock face on the north side of the ridge, where many spiny new mexican locust shrubs growing in the trail do their best to rip you apart. Far below you to the right Noon Creek can be heard splashing out of sight over the rocks. As the trail rounds a corner at the 7300 foot level, it enters into a nice patch of surviving pine-fir forest. A half mile walk through this forest on the nearly vertical mountain side brings you to yet another saddle, which has a small campsite.

After one last short climb, the trail reaches the top of Noon Creek Ridge where some great views to the south open up among the granite boulders. The trail now leaves the ridge, turning south to contour along the 8000 foot level. After a third of a mile hike through the scorched remnants of giant trees, the Noon Creek Ridge Trail comes to an end at the Arcadia Trail. A right turn on the Arcadia Trail can take you to the top of 10,000 foot Heliograph Peak, while a left turn provides the opportunity to complete a loop using the Arcadia Trail and the Swift Trail to return to your starting point.

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2007-03-21 PrestonSands

    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.

    Most recent of 11 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Graham got more snow & rain overnight, so I headed up to Noon Creek for the water show while it's at peak. Started from the Round the Mountain TH and headed up counter for the loop. Right away I almost couldn't make the first lower crossing ..... can't remember ever seeing this much water rushing down Noon Creek!!!
    Arrived later at the upper crossing with another tough water cross ..... this one I had to get wet.
    In-between completing the loop I made some short side trips down the canyon, up the Round the Mountain trail, up Noon Creek Ridge and along the Swift Trail to bring me back to the start.
    Unbelievable amount of water coming off the mountain everywhere right now, upper 1/3 of Graham covered with a new blanket of snow and throughout I was hit with snow flurries & cold, cold temps ..... It was Awesomely beautiful!

    From a favorite perch in the canyon -
    [ youtube video ]
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Got on Noon Creek Loop before sunrise.
    Watched the sun come up on Noon Creek Ridge.
    Exited down on the cutoff trail.
    Swift Trail up to Arcadia.
    Wet Canyon down.
    Swift Trail back to the start for the figure 8.
    The Noon Creek trails were great! Very scenic and a lot of fun. The Ridge and Cutoff trails are a little overgrown, but nothing too difficult to follow.
    Arcadia and the Swift Trail as beautiful as always.

    Wet Canyon ..... WOW ..... it was like hiking down a brand new canyon! Major flooding has altered this canyon beyond belief. I will dearly miss the old canyon that was chocked full of thick foliage and wonderful plant life ..... but this new look of a wider, deeper, boulder blanketed with new waterfalls and now clear of obstructions up & down looked something special to me ..... I think many will like it too. I just hope FS rebuilds the old picnic grounds at the lower bridge.

    Another good one on Graham!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Roper Lake Ranger Tuesday Usual.
    Lauren traveled to Monument Valley for the day so it was just Chad & Addie day.
    The big plan was to show Addie one of my favorite hikes along Pipeline Rd at Bonita Creek.
    Arrived at Gila Box to find Spring Canyon & Dry Canyon had flooded across the access road from the 2 big days of storms we have had and Bonita Creek was going to be impossible to reach. Before turning around, we watched about 6 coatis play above Dry Canyon for a bit before heading back.
    Plan B was our grand backyard sky island and after putting together a big Noon Creek loop, we were off. It was warm & very humid from the recent rains, but the creeks & waterfalls were flowing great and even though I've done this loop several times, it was very enjoyable to show my good friend this beautiful Noon Creek area!
    We ended the Noon Creek trails at Wet Canyon where we rested under a green canopy next to the cold creek. After a snack and cool off period, we then walked the Swift Trail back down to the start completing the loop.
    A quick stop & hike down to Johns Dam ended the trip.
    A little bummed about Bonita, but plan B ended up being a day very well spent!
    Thanks Addie, your pumpkin awesome!!!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Noon Creek Delight
    Today I drove up Graham with no real plan, just decided to wing it. Parked at the Round the Mountain trail-head and after going over my maps for a bit, I put together a loop using a small portion of most of the Noon Creek trails.
    The route: Truck - Noon Creek Loop - Noon Creek Ridge - Noon Creek Cutoff - Swift Trail - Wet Canyon - Swift Trail - Noon Creek Canyon - Truck.
    Overcast & calm day, all the trails looked great, not a lot of spring happening up on the mountain yet & it still looks like winter up in Wet Canyon. I think I may have done this loop before, really enjoyed it and will someday do it again!

    Sad ending to the day on the drive back down the mountain. I had just photographed 3 nice white-tail does after sunset along the road, a mile further and I was coming around the last corner onto the straightaway when another doe ran across the road and into the front of my truck then under. Pulled over, checked my truck then turned around knowing it was going to be bad. Another person drove up upon the scene and helped me put her down and get her off the road. After not hitting a deer in 20+ years of driving the Swift Trail, I have now hit 3 in two years and always feel terrible when it happens.
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Noon Creek Ridge - Wanted to hike this one today because it has the most Leding's hedgehog cactus on it I've ever seen and know they are close to blooming. I found a few blooming, but they need another week to explode! Turned around at peak 6557.
    Noon Creek Cutoff - A few more Leding's and a lot of Skyrockets on the south side.
    Wet Canyon - Out & back to the climbing wall, the canyon is now very green with many yellow columbine. If I would have know how green it was, I would have made this my main trail today up to Arcadia.
    Swift Trail - Took the ST from Wet Canyon back to my truck then decided on one last trail.
    Noon Creek Loop - I had just enough time left for an out & back to the first creek crossing and was glad I decided on this last minute idea! For the first time on this trail, I hit it at the right time of the year as there were HUNDREDS of frogs in the pools mating. I couldn't believe my eyes & ears as there was at least one frog every square yard and the numerous mating calls at times became deafening! It was all I could do not to step on one hopping from boulder to boulder. Returned back to my truck after sunset knowing that I had just saw & heard something I may never witness again, Awesome afternoon trip on Graham!!!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Noon Creek bonanza today! I combined a little of all the Noon Creek trails along with the Swift Trail to form a real nice loop. Noon Creek is flowing strong right now from all the snow melt, all 3 trails are in great shape and still have a little snow on them in the northern sections & everything is really starting to green up now. Very windy on top of the ridge trail, but overall a nice day for hiking!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    With the week long warm temps melting half of the snow off the mountain, I thought the Noon Creek Ridge trail up combined with the Arcadia trail down would be doable and make a fine loop for the day. Started from the Noon Creek Cutoff trail, which is in great shape, and took it up to the Ridge trail. The first mile of the Ridge trail is also in great shape, but the next mile has become quite a mess in the last couple of years and is difficult to follow through the deadfall & overgrowth. I then started to hit snow on the north side at 7000 ft and soon after many locust bushes covering the trail. I bushwacked on a little further up until it was clear that the snow was just getting to deep and I was not going to be able to complete the loop and had to turn around. Still a great hike and the first time I have ever been on the upper trail with snow on it, very pretty!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Started from the Noon Creek loop south TH down to the creek, then back up to the Noon Creek ridge trail and took it around the mountain to the spur trail down to the Swift Trail and up to Wet Canyon, out & back along Wet Canyon to the climbing rock then back down to my truck via the Swift Trail to form a loop. Highlight of this trip was seeing my first ever Pinaleno mountain kingsnake on the ridge trail!
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    Stayed low on the mountain today to avoid the memorial crowds and chose this trail which I haven't been on in 6 years. Hiked up and about a half mile past peak 6557 before turning around. I thought I was going to have to put rocks in my pockets & pack to keep me on the ridge during some of the very strong wind gusts today! Many nice agave & Leding's hedgehog cactus (many of them blooming) along most of this trail. Lots of law enforcement, FS trucks & fire vehicles going up and down the Swift trail today.
    Noon Creek Ridge Trail #318
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    My afternoon on The Mountain included lunch atop a rock at ladybug saddle, a drive to the end of the highway to check out the progress of the snowmelt, and a dayhike. I hiked from the upper Noon Creek trailhead up the Noon Creek Trail to the Arcadia Trail junction. Followed the Arcadia Trail down, then walked the highway down to my truck. It was a fine loop hike for a beautiful spring day in the Pinalenos.

    Permit $$

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

    Map Drive
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    From Safford, head south on U.S. highway 191. Turn west onto state highway 366 (Swift Trail).

    Main (Lower) Trailhead: (32.66340 N, 109.80047 W) Follow highway 366 approximately 8.1 miles to the unmarked trailhead. Look for a small dirt pull off area on the outside of the curve. On the inside of the curve (uphill side), there is a small trail sign, indicating the start of the Round The Mountain Trail #302.

    Upper Trailhead: (32.65266 N, 109.81082 W) Follow highway 366 approximately 9.4 miles to a very small (one-car) parking spot on the right (north) side of the road, at the bottom of a little drainage. There are a few rock cairns here, follow the faint path uphill for 0.5 miles to the Noon Creek Ridge Trail.
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