register help

Chiricahua Shuttle, AZ

Guide 104 Triplogs  1 Active Topic
  4.8 of 5 
1 Active
1.1k 104 0
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 3 of 5
Distance Shuttle 9.8 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,400 feet
Elevation Gain 1,600 feet
Avg Time Hiking 7 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.13
Backpack TBD
varies or not certain dogs are allowed
editedit > ops > dogs to adjust
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Will recalculate on button tap!
2  2020-04-09
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
9  2019-06-09 gummo
15  2017-09-10 gummo
4  2017-08-18 rwstorm
10  2017-06-09 Johnnie
8  2016-10-29 JoelHazelton
25  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
22  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author brianb
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 164
Trips 3 map ( 0 miles )
Age 53 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 10 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  5:12am - 7:27pm
Official Route
5 Alternative

Out of this World!
by brianb

The Chiricahua National Monument is the most wondrous and beautiful spot I know of in Southern Arizona. It may be one of Arizona's best kept secrets because it's so out of the way. Don't let that discourage you! I would say, if you only do one hike in Southern Arizona, make it this one. The monument is an isolated spot on the map where, millions of years ago, volcanic activity left behind thousands of spires or "hoodoos" spread all over the landscape. These volcanic spires manifest themselves in a myriad of shapes and configurations, at times balancing impossibly on top of one another - jutting up straight out of the rocky ground in places and piercing through evergreen covered slopes in others.

The journey is a relatively easy trek with 1600 feet elevation gain spread over about 10 miles. The weather should be comfortable most of the year at 5400-7000 feet. The trail is extremely well maintained and well marked throughout and is easy to follow. You'll get a free and very good trail map (with mileage and elevation) at the entrance to the monument. You can also customize your trip - taking combinations of trails that range (round-trip) from 7.3, 9.8 or 11.3 miles. Just make sure you include the Heart of Rocks Loop Trail in your plans - that's the "sweet spot" of the trip where the rock formations are the most spectacular and accessible. Practice your free-climbing skills on the rocks and capture unique and sometimes sweeping views.

From the parking lot at the Visitor Center, head out on the Rhyolite Canyon Trail for 1.5 miles through the forest and up into the valleys where the rock spires come into view. At a signed trail junction, take the Sarah Deming Trail another 1.6 miles to the junction with the Heart of Rocks Loop Trail. The Heart of Rocks Loop Trail is a 1.1 mile loop that ventures through the epicenter of the awesome rock formations. Take your time through here - take lots of pictures and climb up some of the more accessible rocks just for fun (and some neat views). At the end of the loop, back at the trail junction, you can head back to the Visitor Center for a 7.3 mile round-trip, or continue on the trails into the park. I strongly urge you to continue on. Just a couple easy miles further places you amidst even taller rock formations jutting out of a dense, forested valley. You might even find this part of the trip more rewarding than the Heart of Rocks area (like I did).

From the Heart of Rocks Loop Trail, instead of turning back, continue along the trail that heads east into the park. (I forgot what all of the trials are called, and they're not named on the map, but you can plot the course easily with the map). Continue from the Heart of Rocks Loop trail junction for 1.0 miles to a one-way trail that splits off to something called "Inspiration Point". (I skipped that trail for lack of time). You'll travel through a forest of manzanita and pine, and capture awesome views of Cochise Head along the way. From the Inspiration Point junction, continue on for another 1.2 miles. You'll drop into a beautiful forested area and emerge on the side of a forested valley with giant rock towers sprouting up on both sides. After this 1.2 mile stretch of trail, I followed the 0.8 mile trail segment straight ahead, but you could take a 2.3 mile loop around and through Echo Canyon making your trip 11.3 miles round-trip. (Not sure what that part's like - I'll find out next time...) After the 0.8 mile stretch through the valley, you end up at a trail junction which meets up with the end of the trail that comprises the 2.3 mile loop through Echo Canyon. Follow the trail sign that indicates that you're heading back to the Visitor Center. Continue down into the bottom of the valley along the 1.1 mile stretch that links back up with the Rhyolite Canyon Trail on which you started. It's another 1.5 miles from there back to the Visitor Center.

Leashed dogs are only permitted on: Silver Spur Trail, Faraway Ranch Trail

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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

2001-04-23 brianb
  • Free Trail Map of Chiricahua National Monument (get at park entrance)
    guide related
  • book
    area related
  • 100 Classic Hikes - 2007
    area related
    100 Classic Hikes - 2007

Chiricahua NM NPS Details
Easy Hikes:
Short, smooth walks with little change in elevation

LENGTH: 0.2 mile/0.3 km
Pets Permitted

ACCESS: Bonita Creek Parking Area

TRAIL: This loop around the picnic area takes you along the intermittent Bonita Creek. Watch for Apache plume and prickly poppy flowers in spring and early summer. Arizona whitetail deer are frequently seen in the lower portion of Bonita Canyon. This is a good trail for grassland birds.

LENGTH: 0.5 mile/0.8 km
Pets Permitted

ACCESS: Bonita Creek or Faraway Ranch

Parking Areas.

TRAIL: Winding along Bonita Creek, usually dry, this trail connects the Bonita Creek and Faraway Ranch Picnic Areas. Look for migrating birds, deer, coatimundi and javelina.

LENGTH: 1.2 miles/1.9km
Pets Permitted

ACCESS: Faraway Ranch, Visitor Center or Campground

TRAIL: Beginning at the Faraway Ranch Picnic Area, this leisurely walk leads you through the Faraway Ranch Historic District to Stafford cabin, built in the 1880s. Next is Silver Spur Meadow, home for Civilian Conservation Camp NM-2-A, Company 828 during the 1930s. The fireplaces are remnants from the lodge of the Silver Spur Guest Ranch in business from 1948 to 1968. Stream crossings can be hazardous during spring snowmelt or the summer rains.

LENGTH: 0.4 mile/0.6 km
Pets Permitted

ACCESS: Visitor Center or near the campground groupsite

TRAIL: Offering a safer alternative to walking along the road, look and listen for birds: dark-eyed juncos in winter, hummingbirds in summer and acorn wood-peckers year round. Stream crossings can be hazardous during spring snow melt or the summer rains.

LENGTH: 0.5 mile/0.8 km
No Pets

Watch for uneven footing, steps, and remember the higher elevation – 6,870 ft/2,094 m

ACCESS: Massai Point

TRAIL: This trail features grand vistas of the surrounding valleys and mountain ranges, a huge balanced rock and trail signs highlighting the natural history of the monument. The paved portion from the parking area to the exhibit building is wheelchair accessible.

LENGTH: 1.0 mile/1.6 km round trip
No Pets

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Trailhead

TRAIL: If you don’t have time to hike the full Echo Canyon Loop, consider this shorter option. It provides a great introduction to the wilderness area of the monument and the opportunity to walk among the rock formations.

Moderate Hikes:
One to four hour hikes with elevation changes of 500 feet or less. Gravel trail surfaces.
LENGTH: 4.8 miles/7.8 km round trip
No Pets

ACCESS: Small parking area along the Bonita Canyon Scenic Drive, 0.5 mile/ 0.8 km beyond the campground

TRAIL: The least used trail in the monument climbs through oak and juniper woodlands to a ridge then drops into the Apache pine forest of Picket Park. It ends at an overlook for the small water-carved bridge located across the canyon. Return the same way.

LENGTH: 1.8 miles/2.8 km round trip
No Pets

ACCESS: Sugarloaf Mountain Trailhead

TRAIL: Rising above the surrounding canyons, the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain at 7,310 ft/2,228 m is one of the highest points in the monument. The dark rock is dacite, evidence of a lava flow. Lightning activity is monitored from the CCC constructed fire lookout during summer. Return the same way.

LENGTH: 3.3 miles/5.5 km
No Pets

The loop consists of Echo Canyon, Hailstone and Ed Riggs Trails.

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Trailhead

TRAIL: Most people prefer to hike the loop counter-clockwise since walking up the Ed Riggs Trail is less strenuous than the Echo Canyon Trail. The route winds through spectacular rock formations including the Grottoes and Wallstreet to the densely wooded Echo Park. Hailstone Trail is fairly level, and due to its southern exposure, hotter and dryer. Expect to see more desert plants: yuccas, agaves, prickly pear and hedgehog cactus. Ed Riggs Trail takes you back to the trailhead among large pine trees. Plan at least 2 hours for this hike.
LENGTH: 4.2 miles/6.8 km
No Pets

Echo Canyon, Upper Rhyolite Canyon and Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trails

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Trailhead

TRAIL: Mostly downhill through spectacular rock formations in Echo Canyon. White-throated swifts are common in the summer. One stream crossing on the Upper Rhyolite segment can be hazardous if runoff is significant. The last half of the hike is in shaded oak woodlands. Make sure you have transportation back to your vehicle or ride the hikers’ shuttle at 9:00 a.m.

Strenuous Hikes:
Three to eight hour hikes with elevation changes of 500 to 1,000 feet / 150 to 300 meters. Gravel and rock trail surfaces.

LENGTH: 5.4 miles/8.6 km round trip from Massai Point or 1 mile/1.6 km round trip from Big Balanced Rock Trail
No Pets

ACCESS: Massai Point or the junction of Mushroom Rock and Big Balanced Rock Trails

TRAIL: This mostly level trail is a good place to slow down your heart rate after the trek up Mushroom Rock Trail. Excellent views of Cochise Head and Rhyolite Canyon make this a great rest stop.

No Pets

1. Visitor Center to Heart of Rocks and Return

This route consists of the Lower Rhyolite Canyon, Sarah Deming and Heart of Rocks Loop Trails.

LENGTH: 7.3 miles/ 11.8 km round trip.

ACCESS: Visitor Center Parking Lot

TRAIL: Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail begins as an easy level walk in the lower canyon forest, but soon starts climbing up Rhyolite Canyon. Sarah Deming Canyon gains 880 ft/268 m to reach the top of the ridge. Heart of Rocks Loop has many of the most unusual rock formations in the monument. Start the loop to the left and hike clockwise for the best views and easiest walking. Lots of rock steps make this a challenging loop, but it’s worth the effort.

2. Echo Canyon to Heart of Rocks and Return

This route consists of the Ed Riggs, Mushroom Rock, Big Balanced Rock and Heart of Rocks Loop Trails.

LENGTH: 7.3 miles/ 11.8 km

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Trailhead

TRAIL: An easier route to Heart of Rocks than starting from the Visitor Center with more views of the rock formations. Ed Riggs Trail drops you into the canyon while Mushroom Rock Trail climbs 610 ft/

186 m up the other side. Big Balanced Rock Trail is along top of the ridge. Complete the Heart of Rocks and return, or continue with the Big Loop.

3. Echo Canyon or Massai Point, Heart of Rocks Loop to Visitor Center

LENGTH: 7.3 miles/ 11.8 km Ed Riggs, Mushroom Rock, Big Balanced Rock, Heart of Rocks Loop, Sarah Deming and Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trails.

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Parking Lot or Massai Point

TRAIL: Make sure you have transportation back to your vehicle or ride the hikers’ shuttle at 8:30 a.m. Watch for changes in vegetation from the upper canyon areas to the lower canyon riparian areas.

For folks wanting to do everything, this route consists of the Echo Canyon, Upper Rhyolite Canyon, Sarah Deming, Heart of Rocks, Big Balanced Rock, Inspiration Point, Mushroom Rock and Ed Riggs trails.

LENGTH: 9.5 miles/ 15.4 km
No Pets

ACCESS: Echo Canyon Trailhead

TRAIL: Up and down across the canyons, the Big Loop combines the best of the wilderness scenery. Be sure to take snacks and drink plenty of water on this all day hike.

Hiking with Pets
Pets are permitted in specific areas at Chiricahua National Monument. Dogs must be on a leash at all times and not left alone. You may only walk your dog on the lower canyon trails between the campground, visitor center, and entrance station on the Silver Spur Trail, Faraway Ranch Trail, and the campground. You may not bring your pets on any of the other park trails. This is for the safety of your dog and protection of the wildlife.
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 $$

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

To Rhyolite Canyon Trailhead
Take I-10 east to the I-10 Business Loop exit at Wilcox. Stay on the I-10 Business Loop into Wilcox. (Once into Wilcox, signs for the monument will guide you the rest of the way). Go south on highway 186 from Wilcox at the sign for Chiricahua National Monument. Keep driving south on highway 186 for about 15 miles until a 'T' in the road where 186 goes east towards the monument (it is marked with another sign). Continue east on 186 just a few miles straight into the monument. Pay the entrance to the monument (and pick up a map) and continue for about 1.5 miles to the Visitor Center. (Or take the drive another few miles up to the end and back for some nice views if you like - it's only a few miles). Park in the lot at the Visitor Center and jump on the Rhyolite Canyon Trail at the far end of the lot.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 230 mi, 3 hours 38 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 121 mi, 2 hours 7 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 374 mi, 5 hours 44 mins
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
help comment issue

end of page marker