username
X
password
register help

Heliograph Peak Loop, AZ

details
drive
permit
forecast
route
stats
photos
triplogs
topics
location
404 41 0
Guide 41 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Tucson > Safford
Rated
4
4 of 5 by 9
 
6
Statistics
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 2 of 5
Distance Loop 4.25 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,990 feet
Elevation Gain 1,030 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 2.25 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 9.4
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Collective Slideshow
32  2017-10-13 SkyIslander18
41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
SkyIslander18
8  2016-08-18 cactuscat
45  2016-07-17 AZHiker456
6  2016-06-18 trekkin_gecko
12  2016-06-18 johnlp
5  2016-06-06
Heliograph Peak
MountainMatt
7  2016-06-05
Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
friendofThunderg
Page 1,  2,  3
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar
Expand Map
Preferred   Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep → Early
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  7:11am - 5:14pm
openimportsetbegin
Route Scout App
894followactivity
Official Route
 
3 Linked
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
Heliograph Peak from Shannon GC
same trailhead
3.2 mi
1,024 ft
Marijilda Cutoff
Marijilda Cutoff
0.0 mi away
1.6 mi
327 ft
Shannon Campground
0.2 mi away
High Peak Road #507 Spur
0.4 mi away
2.0 mi
100 ft
Plain View Peak 10370
0.4 mi away
8.0 mi
1,440 ft
High Peak Road #507
High Peak Road #507
0.4 mi away
3.8 mi
642 ft
Snow Flat
Snow Flat
0.5 mi away
0.8 mi
180 ft
Treasure Park from Snow Flat
Treasure Park from Snow Flat
0.5 mi away
3.2 mi
487 ft
Snow Flat Campground
0.6 mi away
Connector Trail #507 - #320A
0.8 mi away
0.6 mi
100 ft
[ View More! ]
Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Culture Nearby
Thunderstorm magnet
by PrestonSands

From my home in Safford, I watched an especially nasty looking thunderstorm hover over Mt. Graham during the early afternoon of July 4. "If the storm moves on, I'm going hiking up there" I thought. It did, and I did. Within an hour, I was at Shannon Campground, with hopes of making the top of Heliograph Peak before another thunderstorm blew in. With a copy of the Mt. Graham topo map and rain gear in my pack, I started up the Arcadia Trail. For the first mile, I hiked through beautiful stands of tall firs and aspens. Upon reaching the saddle, the trail to the top of Heliograph Peak split off to the right. The trail crossed over a short rocky ridge, and soon arrived on the northern slope of Heliograph Peak. The 2004 Gibson Fire had completely cooked this area, but thousands of new aspens were already chest high.


The rest of the way up was slow going, due to erosion following the fire and thickets of aspen covering what remained of the trail. Old log erosion bars and new cairns showed the way. Once the abandoned fire tower was in view, the trail left the burn area, and passed by a couple of small blue spruce trees. Nervously eyeing an new thunderstorm overhead, I shot some pictures of the top of the peak and the historic Heliograph Cabin. Somewhere up here is where the U.S. Army had a heliograph (a sun reflecting signal mirror used to communicate over long distances) during the Apache wars of the late 1800's. A loud crack of thunder soon let me know that it was time to go.

I decided to return via the old fire road, as the forest it passed through appeared to have been spared from the Gibson Fire. I made good time descending the road, passing through pristine forest and watching a thunderstorm wreak havoc on Mt. Graham itself. I shot pictures constantly on the way down, while hiking past some of the biggest trees I've ever seen. "This is the most beautiful hike I've been on in a long time", I thought. After a couple miles, I passed by the permanently locked gate (the road has been off limits to vehicles for years due to habitat needs for the Mount Graham Red Squirrel), and was back at the turnoff for Shannon Campground.

I walked the short distance back to the start of the Arcadia Trail, through the empty campground, and sat down in the bed of my truck. A busy woodpecker kept me company as I wrote this trail description down under a stormy sky at Shannon Campground. I love this mountain!

Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.

PrestonSands
    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 $$
    None

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


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - 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
    help comment issue

    end of page marker