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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Chiricahua Shuttle, AZ

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Guide 101 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Douglas
Rated
4.8
4.8 of 5 by 49
 
21
Statistics
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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
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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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
Tortoise_Hiker
22  2016-04-02
Chiricahua NM Loop with Sugarloaf
The_Eagle
25  2016-03-18
Big Loop - Chiricahua National Monument
ddgrunning
Page 1,  2,  3,  4,  5 ... 8
Author brianb
author avatar Guides 9
Routes 0
Photos 164
Trips 3 map ( 0 miles )
Age 51 Male Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
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Preferred   Apr, May, Sep, Oct → 10 AM
Seasons   ALL
Sun  6:01am - 6:25pm
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5 Alternative
 
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Out of this World!
by brianb

Likely In-Season!
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.

Dogs
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

BONITA CREEK LOOP
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.

BONITA CREEK TRAIL
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.

SILVER SPUR MEADOW TRAIL
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.

VISITOR CENTER TO CAMPGROUND
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.

MASSAI POINT NATURE TRAIL
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.

ECHO CANYON GROTTOES
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.
NATURAL BRIDGE TRAIL
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.

SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN TRAIL
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.

ECHO CANYON LOOP
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.
ECHO CANYON TO VISITOR CENTER
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.


INSPIRATION POINT
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.


HEART OF ROCKS
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.

THE BIG LOOP
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.

Most recent of 29 deeper Triplog Reviews
Chiricahua Shuttle
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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: https://youtu.be/Ow ... Dx1M

A hike up Sugarloaf Mountain Trail provides a great 360 overlook of the area.
Sugarloaf Mountain Video :next: https://youtu.be/T- ... 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: https://youtu.be/o6 ... -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
Chiricahua Shuttle
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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.
Chiricahua Shuttle
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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.
Chiricahua Shuttle
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I've seen the Monument once, about 15 Years ago when I first realized that there was a cool Mountain Range down there. I was working a Highway Job in Sunizona and when I asked people if there was anything Cool to see or do down there in my Off Time, the Monument was the first thing to come up. I took a couple of Trips out to the Chiricahuas while I was working down there. Always, right after Work, as I was staying in Willcox. I went up into the Turkey Creek Area one Day and explored a little bit. The other Day, I went to the Monument. I had enough Time to drive all the way up to Massai Point, go OMG! and then it got Dark.... :sl:

This was the Trip to really check it out...I knew I probably wouldn't get much Hiking in, but it was a great "Get Acquainted" Trip. I Camped for 2 Nights, arriving after Dark the first Night, after Birding Kansas Settlement. I spent 1 1/2 Days messing around in there. This Triplog and Photoset is just from the First Day. I did a slightly longer Hike and History Tour on the 2nd Day, so I'm going to do it separately...

It was pretty Chilly at Night and they had gotten some Snow from the Storm that hit me at Whitewater Draw....I had a thought to do Sugarloaf Mountain while I was there, but one look at the Trail, in the Shade, with all of the Recent Snow on it, was enough for me to say "next time".... :sweat: I'm just not equipped for Snow Hikes.

I drove the Road, did the Nature Trail Hike at Massai Point, checked out all of the Overlooks and TH's, and did a small Loop Hike from the Campground to the Visitor Center. Back up to Massai Point for Sunset... :D

Amazing Place and I will be back to start taking on some of those cool Hikes... :D
Chiricahua Shuttle
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- 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 .....
Chiricahua Shuttle
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Took my son here for some different scenery. We camped the night before on Pinery Canyon Rd - had the entire place to ourselves. It was pretty chilly at night, but the perfect temp for hiking the next day.

We took the shuttle up to Echo Canyon and hiked Echo > Hailstone > Mushroom Rock > Big Balanced Rock > Heart of Rocks > Sarah Demming > Lower Rhyolite > Visitor's Center. We skipped Inspiration Point, as it seemed to have the worst fire damage. The junction of Inspiration Pt. with the Mushroom Rock Tr. and the Big Balanced Rock Tr. was really torched. There is much new growth, but it will be a long time before shade happens there again. Fortunately, the best parts of the park were untouched (Upper Echo Canyon, the west side of Big Balanced Rock Tr. and the Heart of Rocks). It's still very much worth the trip.

Compliments, once again, to the Park Service who runs this place. They really are a class act.
Chiricahua Shuttle
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My first trip back into the upper Monument since the fire!

We first started with a warm-up on the Massai Nature Trail loop before driving back down to the Echo Canyon trailhead. We then completed the Big Loop hiking it clockwise including the out-n-back to Inspiration Point. I really expected to see a lot more burn, but the only sections that really got cooked were the Southeast corner including the entire Inspiration Point trail & Echo Park down in the lower canyon. There was a few other spotty burn sections, but nothing too bad.

As for the rest of the trail(s), I was once again just blown away with the Monument scenery! The formations & trails (as always) were amazing, spectacular, epic, etc ........
In my opinion, this is still "the one" to do in Southeastern Arizona!

What made this trip even better was sharing it with 2 new friends I made at Roper Lake SP just a couple of days earlier. It was their first time seeing the Monument and I heard more then a few WOWS during the hike.

Thanks Dave & Kathy, you guys (and the hoodoos) Rocked!!!
Chiricahua Shuttle
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Bassett Peak Tales 2012

3 days
607 miles
33 gallons of gasoline
266 digital images
Fall colours
"Robber" stellar jays
Clean, crisp mountain air (with just a hint of snow)
Unexpected solitude
No work distractions
Priceless!

The Plan => Friday 11/9 rendezvous at Einstein's Bagels in Ahwatukee AZ, truck pool, and hit the road to the Bassett Peak trail head at the end of FR660/Ash Creek Road to set up camp in the Galiuro Mountains to enjoy what many consider the best fall colours in Arizona.

I've been able to keep my 2012 quarterly wilderness adventures pretty much as planned; "Anza Borrego California Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=18664 ), "Oregon Tales 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=20147 ), and Colorado Fall Colours 2012" (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=21834). Those 3 days crossed out on the November calendar to take in the Bassett Peak fall colours at Ash Spring were about to be tested...

Thursday started out with 6 adventurers ready and raring to go, by sundown there was only 1. Weather forecasts and other calamities took their toll. With Friday already booked off, I decided to roll the dice and use the Willcox Holiday Inn Express as basecamp with some adjusted plans;

A. Ahwatukee AZ - ground zero, home
B. Willcox AZ - basecamp at the Holiday Inn Express (check out => http://www.willcoxlodging.com/)
C. Fort Bowie National Historic Site - stop at the old fort (check out => http://www.nps.gov/fobo/index.htm and http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=934)
D. San Simon AZ - S. Noland Rd. turn-off to head south to Portal AZ and the South Fork of Cave Creek TH in Chiricahua National Monument
E. South Noland Road - note; signage is not "San Simon Road" as noted in HAZ write-ups
F. Foothills Road - turn-off to SE towards Portal AZ
G. Portal AZ - SE access to Chiricahua National Monument (check out => http://www.nps.gov/chir/index.htm and http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=27)
H. South Fork of Cave Creek TH - access at the South Fork picnic area (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=509)
I. Forest Road 42 - up and over the Chiricahua Mountains (check out => http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coronado ... &actid=105)
J. Dos Cabezas AZ - a drive back to Willcox via SR186
K. Willcox AZ - basecamp at the local Holiday Inn Express (check out => http://www.willcoxlodging.com/)
L. Bassett Peak TH - end of the road for FR660/Ash Creek Road in the Galiuro Mountains (check out => http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=252)
M. Tucson AZ - Sunday dinner with my youngest daughter, Tobyn
N. Ahwatukee AZ - home again...



DAY 1 - Friday 11/9
Ahwatukee AZ to Willcox AZ
185 miles
3 hrs 1 min 1-way per Google Maps

Hit the road for the Willcox AZ basecamp.



DAY 2 - Saturday 11/10
Willcox AZ to South Fork of Cave Creek Trail #243 via FOBO and FR42 to SR186
96 miles
3 hrs 34 min per Google Maps

I have never been to the Chiricahua Mountains before and thought I could take advantage of being in the vicinity. My home library contains the book "Cochise - the Life and Times of the Great Apache Chief" by ASU professor Peter Aleshire (check out => http://www.amazon.com/Cochise-Times-Gre ... 0471383635 ). Despite the literary criticism, I've always been intrigued by this book and the subject (an easier read about Cochise was authored by Dave Roberts). It's arguable that the existence of Fort Bowie can be attributed to Chief Cochise, so it was fitting to make the side trek. Upon entry to the site, I discover the cool nickname for Fort Bowie - FOBO, uttered by one of the staff (FOBO is now forever burned into my brain). A quick tour of FOBO Loop followed by a pondering about the location of the tent Cochise cut open to make his escape in 1861 (check out => http://www.nps.gov/fobo/historyculture/ ... elix-3.pdf ) during the "Bascom Affair". The low hanging clouds created a fittingly eerie FOBO atmosphere...

The main objective of the day was exploring South Fork of Cave Creek Trail #243 and the fall colours I've heard raves about from some HAZ trekkers and others (check out => http://www.dykinga.com/p947625174/h1be05152#h1be05152 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/mkmphoto50/6330187608/ ). Maple Camp would be the primary objective given some of the photos I've seen. I arrived at the picnic area at the end of South Fork Road noon-ish. A group of 3 hunters decked out in full camouflage were exiting the trail as I began my trek. They said they managed to get a single shot off during their morning hunt - I indicated I hoped to get considerably more (digital) shots off that afternoon... I arrived at the Maple Camp area wondering what all the fuss is about. Undeterred, I trekked another 2 miles or so upstream from the Burro Trail junction seeking fall colours. I have to agree with Letty's recent assessment (check out => http://hikearizona.com/photoset.php?ID=22250 ) and look forward to area recovery to its former blazing colours. I returned to the TH with just enough remaining daylight to spark-up the BBQ and grill a couple of burgs. To my complete surprise, I discovered a robbery in process - Stellar Jays landing on my picnic table and helping themselves to my Doritos - with me only an arm's length away!

I returned to my Willcox basecamp via Forest Road 42 up and over the Chiricahua Mountains to join up with SR186 near Dos Cabezas. When I packed up and left the South Fork picnic area my truck thermometer indicated it was 48degF. As I peaked-out along the Chiricahua ridgeline, my truck thermometer indicated it was a chilly 34degF!



DAY 3 - Sunday 11/10
Willcox AZ to Bassett Peak TH (Ash Creek Rd/FR660)
36 miles
1 hr 37 min per Google Maps

Sunday sunrise revealed a brilliant blue cloudless sky with snow visible on the highest mountain peaks. I slowly made my way to the trail head stopping many times to observe the various eye-candy (I still regret passing up the pumpkin field and failing to re-create the image captured by Derek von Briesen => http://www.pbase.com/sedonamemories/image/128206856 ) including snow on Mount Graham. As I turned onto FR660 near the intersection of Ash Creek Road and Sunset Loop, I was surprised to see nobody at the usually busy "hunter's meadow". Saw one group of campers at the large site as you exit the wash and another group at the almost-TH. I parked my truck here and discovered the campers were mostly from Mesa AZ. They indicated it had snowed overnight accompanied by some strong winds. Once on the trail, I was treated to a riot of colour (albeit a week past their prime). At Ash Spring, the aspen still had about half their leaves. Another one of the old growth aspen fell victim to the weekend winds - every time I've visited there's another old growth casualty. Without any new growth aspen, I wonder how many more years we'll have to enjoy this spectacular scene??? After capture my fill of fall colours, I packed up my gear with a dinner stop in Tucson visiting my daughter Tobyn.



And that's my Bassett Peak Tale 2012! Photos to follow...
Chiricahua Shuttle
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Tour de Baja Arizona Section IV
Tour de Baja Arizona Section IV - Hot Well Dunes to Whitewater Draw

Having been continually working to manage a herniated L5 disc since January of this year - I recently devoted a good deal of time over the past three months toward Physical Therapy (PT). This involved little to no hiking - but did allow for increased cycling of all types - much of it measured on an indoor wind-trainer a minimum of 5 days per week. Trail riding and continuing research for a route I've been crafting - the Tour de Baja Arizona (TDBAZ) - made up most of the summer. The test route documented here outlines a variation involving Section IV of the tour. I intend to divide this route into into four sections, each averaging between 150 - 170 miles for a circuitous total of around 640 miles or over 1000 km. The bulk of each section is over dirt forest roads (100 miles +) with some single track trail riding when applicable - elevation is engaged not avoided. I carried all food necessary and took water solely from the route, with a 3.25 gallon capacity available. The only exception to this was the off-day in Rodeo, New Mexico - where I dined and took water in a conventional manner while remaining camped for two nights - as I needed to do laundry somewhere. The weight of the bike and gear used fluctuated between 90 - 110lbs.< mainly dependent on water load. I was fortunate to find water available in the creek beds below my camps in both Pinery Canyon & Rucker Canyon in the Chiricahua Mountains - this was a gamble that paid-off by allowing me to carry less water over some of the steepest climbs. I rode fully loaded with over 3.25 gallons on board upon leaving camp at Hot Well Dunes and ran out the following morning on the uphill grade entering Chiricahua National Monument. This gave me a good seasonal assessment as to the range of the set-up, etc. I feel good about this outing and that my PT over 2012 is definitely heading in the right direction! The photos are mainly of campsites with the bike and such - a few landscapes are included.

:SB: Having recently (earlier this month) traversed the Chiricahuas by Mountain Bike, I was able to inquire about Rustler Park with a good many regional folks. The story was consistent from the Chiricahua Monument to Portal, AZ / Rodeo, NM... Word is that a minimum of 1000 burned or scorched trees are going to be logged off at Rustler Rark - most of this will be performed by onsite mobile sawmills brought up the mountain with finished lumber trucked-off - with much of the excelsior remains being incorporated into a portion of erosion control, etc. Barfoot Park has remained open escaping a good deal of recent fire damage - except for the Fire Lookout... I hiked about Rustler Park (currently closed) while doing a Truck Camping overnight to research water availability back in Mid-October for the MTB ride through the area. Barfoot is a real gem of seclusion at 8,300'...
Chiricahua Shuttle
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I signed up for the Hiker Express Shuttle and was on my way to the Echo Canyon parking lot. Cheryl was nice enough to agree to tear down camp and then drive over to the Visitor Center to meet me around noon.

I hit the trail and cruised on down. The first mile I was already on the day before. Before long I connected to the Mushroom Rock Trail and found myself heading uphill. It was a steady uphill for over a mile. Near the end of that section you reach badly burnt forest. It was sad to see but it will grow back...might take a decade or two. I continued on and took the short side trip to Inspiration Point. It was a fantastic view and I really enjoyed the solitude. I only saw four people on the entire hike. I returned to the main trail.

The Big Balanced Rock Trail goes through more burnt sections but I didn't mind. There were some great views of Cochise Head and Echo Canyon. Eventually I arrived at the Big Balance Rock and was impressed with the size. I took my pics and then hit the Heart of Rocks Trail. I must have gotten tunnel vision because I missed my left turn and had to make a counter clockwise loop. The loop is set up for the opposite. It was no big deal as I had to turn around several times around the loop. The rock formations are impressive through here. I completed the loop and found my route finding snafu.

I returned to the trail junction and then started working my way towards the visitor center. As I was going down the Sarah Deming Trail I saw something move up ahead just off the trail. I quickly grabbed my camera as a Coatimundi walked on the trail ahead of me. I took its pic and right then it noticed me and took off running. I was startled to see several more just below. I saw six in total and was able to get a few more pics. Most of them turned out blurry but I got a couple of good shots. I was quite happy with the experience. After that I set a solid pace and was back at the visitor center. I met up with Cheryl and headed back to Phoenix.

On the drive home we reflected on the amazing weekend. The Chiricahua National Monument is wonderful and I highly recommend it!

Permit $$
NPS

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


Directions
Map Drive
or
Road
TBD

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
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