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Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC, AZ

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Guide 25 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
3.6 of 5 by 11
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,998 feet
Elevation Gain 1,024 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 8.32
Interest Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
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45  2016-07-17
Heliograph Peak Loop
6  2016-06-18
Heliograph Peak Loop
12  2016-06-18
Heliograph Peak Loop
7  2016-06-05 friendofThunderg
9  2016-02-22 SkyIslander18
9  2015-07-26 friendofThunderg
32  2012-04-27
Heliograph Peak Loop
23  2012-04-27
Grant Hill Loop
Page 1,  2
Author Desertboots
author avatar Guides 8
Routes 0
Photos 114
Trips 14 map ( 68 miles )
Age Female Gender
Location Scottsdale, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → 10 AM
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:18pm
Official Route
3 Alternative
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Ride em Butterfly
by Desertboots

Likely In-Season!
I love the Pinaleno Mountains. They are by far the very best Arizona has to offer as far as the "Sky Islands". I don't really want to say this too loud, as I like the serenity up there and would like to keep the riff-raff out. But, there is still plenty of riff-raff that goes up there as it is. I can never understand why people go to the wilderness to listen to loud music. They ruin my harmonious communing.

I camp out there when I go because it's a four-hour drive from Phoenix. I have been camping at the Shannon Campground, as it is one of the nicest. There are still plenty of other campgrounds, with facilities and without. There are also a slew of great hiking trails. I have only hiked Heliograph Peak, Ash Creek, Cunningham Loop and Webb Peak. If anyone can tell me more about the trails in the Pinalenos, please let me know. I have discovered trails going off everywhere just from snooping around places in the mountains and I have no idea where they go. I'm a little leery of just traipsing off on one of these unmarked trails, as they are unknown and I might get lost or eaten by a bear.

Hike: From the Shannon Campground, the trailhead is at the end of the campground at the turnaround. There is a marker for "Arcadia Trail" right there next to the "doody shack", as I call it. Start in here. You'll have a beautiful and completely flat walk for about 15 minutes, then the trail will start to climb. At the point where you start to climb, look for another trail going downhill. I placed a cairn there today, but have no clue whether it will stay. This, I believe, is the "old" trail. If you take this trail and go downhill you'll end up back at Shannon. It's a completely un-maintained trail and you'll have a lot of fallen timber to hop over. I hiked this part from Shannon, starting at the creek and following it along the old trail. It swung around, went by a spring with water bubbling out of the ground and climbed up to the point on the new trail I am now describing. It was interesting, but pointless.

You'll switchback in the shade of conifers and aspen. Once at the top, you'll see the cut off for the Arcadia Trail. This will take you 4 miles down to the Arcadia Campground. I have never gone this way, as I would never be able to get back up. I would say it's best done in a two car shuttle. Keep climbing. You'll get to a rocky area where you'll actually go through a sort of pass. Then it takes you down for a little bit before starting in on more switchbacks. When you think you're at the top, think again. The trail turns south and keeps climbing. Suddenly you're in a clearing and you can see the fire towers and some forestry buildings. It's here you see the road and think, man, I could have driven!

From here you just turn around and go back the way you came.

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2002-05-29 Desertboots
    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 12 deeper Triplog Reviews
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Solo afternoon trip up into 10,000 ft land.
    Chose the counter clockwise route for this day.
    Added the out-n-back spur trail at the start.
    T shirt weather on the climb up, pullover fleece on top and down Arcadia.
    The aspens are a turnin', good amount of summer flowers left, still many raspberries left to pick, Shannon CG creek flowing very well & very green pines throughout.
    Wildlife was scarce today producing only 1 white-tail doe sighting.
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    first visit to the pinalenos
    two night car camp with john
    drove up saturday morning, and were on the mountain by noon
    checked out a few campgrounds, setting up at hospital flat
    thought we might have trouble getting a site, but plenty were available in shannon and arcadia
    this area has been on my wish list for some time
    good timing for getting away from record temps in the valley
    picked out a handful of hikes with some input from fellow haz members
    started out on this loop around 4:00, taking the trail from shannon campground
    good trail up with some nice views to the north
    really liked the grassy aspen area near the top
    a collection of antennas, a cabin and a fire tower at the summit
    no one home, so we went up as high as we could before the locked gate
    great views from the tower
    took the road down to make the loop
    drove down a few miles to hit ladybug peak from the saddle
    cute little summit with good views but no ladybugs
    headed back to camp
    cooled off quickly once the sun went down, so we enjoyed the fire john built
    very quiet night, brightly lit by the nearly full moon
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our one and only snowshoe trip of this winter and we almost waited too long to take it!
    The Pinalenos' snow has quickly melted in the last 2 weeks leaving our first 2 choices non-doable.
    We had to drive up and around to the backside of Graham all the way to Shannon for a continuous trail of snow, Heliograph Peak's service road to the top was today's ticket. Still holding about 95% of the road's snow, we headed up to the top, took in the great views from 10,000ft, rested & refueled, then back down the way we came.
    Man ..... I had forgotten what a workout snowshoeing is, I'll be feeling it tomorrow, but we had a great time on this fun, well spent afternoon of play on the Big Island!!!
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    The trail up is great. It does get a little less appealing near the top where it has suffered some severe fire damage and is currently being overran by New Mexican Locust plants, hopefully the also abundant Aspen win the battle to reclaim this burned area. The top is cluttered with some contemporary stuff and several towers, but the views are solid. I took the road down and a series of old logging roads in order to hit Heliograph Spring for the dogs. The spring had water and we managed to cut some considerable sections of the closed road out of the hike back.
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Perfect day on top of the mountain with a trio of good friends!
    We started the day with a very nice loop hike of Heliograph Peak.
    We then traveled the Swift Trail to it's end on this opening day of the back road.
    Then it was down to Riggs Lake for a short loop around this most beautiful (cold) mountain forest lake. Quite a few people fishing & catching limits on day #1 of the reopening.
    4 turkeys were spotted along the way.

    Thanks Dave, Kathy & Addie - look very forward to the next one!

    Starting to pick up now, mostly yellows.
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    After doing Grant Hill Loop as a warmup/elevation adjusting Hike, Chad and I were off to Hike the main attraction for the day. Chad thought that I needed to bag at least one peak while I was here, and after he told me about this one, I was all for it. I have not had the opportunity to see a close up of a Fire Tower yet, so seeing one that was on the Historic Register seemed very cool.

    We arrived at the Shannon Campground and hit the Trail. I was starting to adjust to the elevation somewhat, and the Trail started out fairly level, so I got more of a chance to suck in some more oxygen, before the uphill began. :sweat: And it did begin, although it wasn't terribly steep at this point, so life was good...I knew eventually it had to get steeper if we were going all the way to 10,000 feet.... :o :D

    We also ran into a little snow here and there, but it wasn't too bad. The Trail had some deadfall on it, apparently the crews haven't been in to clear it away yet. A few downed trees to go over, under or around, but nothing too awful. (I've already experienced awful deadfall this Spring, this was light by comparison).

    After a few sucking wind stops and Photography breaks, we got to a nice overlook area and took a real break to enjoy the views. From Chad's comments, I knew we were getting close and I was really getting excited about hitting this Peak. Finished the break, and started pushing upward again. We arrived at a burn area just before the top and although I wouldn't consider a burn area horribly scenic, it kind of had it's own tragic beauty, especially with the white boulders and rocks encountered in that area as well. And then with one more push, we were there! Walking up to the Forest Service Cabin with the Fire Tower looming overhead was a very cool sight. Let the picture taking commence in earnest.... :D

    Not only was the Cabin and the Fire Tower there, but also several other communication towers, one of which Chad stated had to be brand new, as it hadn't been there when he was there before. The new one, was now the tallest structure on the Mountain. It was incredibly high.

    Lots of history up there and we spent about an hour going from place to place, tower to tower, and overlook to overlook, as the views off the side of the Mountain were incredible as well. Really enjoyed the visit at the top of this Peak.

    Before long it was time to start back down and we took the Service Road all the way back to the Campground. We even had time to stop at another area for some wildlife and sunset viewing, so the day wasn't even over yet! (I'll post a different Log for some of the more scenic, nonhiking stuff).

    Great Hike!! Another winner Chad!!! :y: First time I've ever been at 10,000 feet, actually hiking, so it was special in that way as well. Another awesome day in the books.... :)
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Pam and I drove up the Swift Trail to the backside of the Pinalenos for a couple of high forest hikes. We first made a brief stop at Ladybug Saddle to accumulate to the altitude a bit before continuing on around to the backside. First up was Grant Hill Loop which we looped clockwise around the outer trails stopping for a break at the 2 big overlooks. Then it was off to one of my Pinaleno favs - 10,022 ft Heliograph Peak Loop. We started from the Shannon CG looping the trail clockwise with a brief stop at the Eagle Rock overlook before continuing on up to the peak. I just love the top of this peak! The historic cabin, meadow, towers and views down to the valley will have me coming back season after season, year after year! The sun was getting low after Heilograph, but we still had a little daylight left to drive down to one of the prettiest little places on the whole mountain, Snow Flat. As we arrived at the flat, we spotted a big tom turkey with 6 of his hens and were able to get a few pics before driving down to the little lake for sunset. After getting our lake pics, we drove back on down to town ending a real nice day spent on the mountain!
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Too bad the lookout has signs up that restrict tower access. When I got to the top it was mostly pea soup anyways.

    The Arcadia trail starts out great, a wonderful trail for that first mile.

    Ripe raspberries all over the backside (burned area). I helped myself to a few. And then a few more! Yum! Figured out I was competing with the bears. Plenty of evidence but none seen.
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    After lunch with Randal at Chalo's Safford (whose food has gone downhill, by the way :( ), I drove up into the high Pinalenos for the 2nd time today. I parked at the Shannon turnoff, and hiked the forest road to the top of Heliograph, where I was greeted by numerous flowers, ladybugs, and bluish thunderstorm clouds building all around. Sixty five degrees and cloudy? Yes!!! I took dozens of photos, and watched an increasingly menacing thunderstorm grow to the east, over Safford. That storm rolled in as I left the top, and things got a little wild. With close lightning strikes and heavy rain, I moved quickly down the peak. At the bottom, I took a detour through Shannon Campground to Marijilda Creek, enjoying the peaceful rain soaked surroundings and the dark clouds overhead. Driving down, I paused to enjoy a great lightning show over Safford, near the forest boundary. A nice full day adventure it was.
    Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
    rating optionrating optionrated 3rated 3rated 3
    After doing the Graham trail, I decided to head over to Heliograph Peak. The Shannon campground was still closed for winter, but you can park at the gate and walk through the campground to the trailhead. A few spots where downed trees block the path but nothing too bad until you get higher up where the trail is almost all covered by some downed trees. Snow was present up on the top sections as well. Got to the top and the views were incredible. To the NE I could see smoke rising from a fire in the distance. Looking over at Graham seemed to be further than it should be, then there were great views of Dos Cabezas and the Chiricahuas to the south. Also loved the view of the Galiuro Mountains where I would be the following day. Some good gusts of wind up at top made it nice and chilly. I decided to head down the road to see the other side of the mountain which made the trek a tade longer but not bad. Water running down a channel from the melting snow made for a nice soundtrack to the hike.

    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 Shannon CG Trailhead
    From Safford, head south on SR 191. Turn west onto state SR 366 (Swift Trail) and follow 20.9mi. Turn right and follow 0.2mi to Shannon Campground.

    From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 193 mi - about 4 hours 4 mins
    From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 143 mi - about 2 hours 41 mins
    From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 338 mi - about 6 hours 7 mins
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