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Cunningham Loop Trail #316, AZ

Guide 34 Triplogs  0 Topics
  3.8 of 5 
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Difficulty 1.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Lasso-Loop 7.6 miles
Trailhead Elevation 8,850 feet
Elevation Gain 264 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,212 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 4 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 13.66
Backpack Possible - Not Popular
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49  2022-06-24 00blackout
15  2019-07-12 kingsnake
13  2019-07-10
Cunningham Loop
41  2017-09-18
Frye Fire 2017 Aftermath
20  2017-05-14
Cunningham Spur
15  2014-06-05 wha
23  2013-10-11
Grant Hill Loop
14  2013-05-20 SkyIslander18
Page 1,  2,  3
author avatar Guides 169
Routes 148
Photos 5,659
Trips 1,757 map ( 9,108 miles )
Age 44 Male Gender
Location Oro Valley, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Radar Map
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Preferred Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep
Seasons   Late Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  5:40am - 7:10pm
Official Route
1 Alternative
Historic Fire Perimetersacres
🔥 2017 Frye Fire48.4k
🔥 2004 Nuttall30k
🔥 View (All) - over Official Route 🔥

Bigfoot country!
by PrestonSands

  Likely In-Season!
The Cunningham Loop Trail #316 is made up of an upper trail and a longer lower trail. The upper trail parallels the lower trail a couple hundred feet above and rejoins the lower trail at the two-mile point. The route follows an abandoned road, which is being reclaimed by the forest and contours around the slopes of Mt. Graham itself. This trail is currently about as close as you can legally hike to the summit of Mt. Graham (the mountain is closed above the 9800 foot level for protection of the Mt. Graham Red Squirrel).

Arriving at the trailhead on the western end of the trail, I climbed out of my truck next to Cunningham campground and put on my hiking boots. "I'm too tired to hike", I thought, but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't. I hiked past a gate and uphill into the thick forest. Within a half-mile, I came to the junction of the upper and lower loops. Deciding on the lower loop, I set off into the woods.

From the loop junction, the lower (main) trail gradually climbs up through the aspens and firs, leveling off at about 9100 feet. Most of the trail is in dense forest, but you get occasional glimpses of the surrounding mountains (including Mt. Graham itself) throughout the rest of the hike. The trail weaves in and out of trickling side drainages covered in ferns, before arriving at the eastern junction with the upper loop, just before Grant Creek. After wading through big leaved, jungle-like plants at the Grant Creek crossing, the trail turns south.

The last two miles were just incredible. Giant trees covered in moss, thickets of Christmas tree-like spruces, aspens, and a patch full of sweet raspberries were the highlights. Where the trail rounds a ridge at about the three-mile point, there are some good views to the north of Mt. Graham, and its little brother, Hawk Peak. Their summits are the only visible fire damage in the area. There are a couple of old side roads that join up with the trail just before the end, one of which could be confusing to hikers coming from the Grant Hill side (stay left if heading north). I soon arrived at the Swift Highway and found myself at Grant Hill trailhead (the eastern trailhead), where the Cunningham Loop Trail comes to an end.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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.

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

2006-07-27 PrestonSands
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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)

Map Drive
FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

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

EASTERN ACCESS: Follow Highway 366 approximately 23.4 miles to the Grant Hill Trailhead at milepost 138. The trail starts as a side road across the Swift Trail from the parking lot.

WESTERN ACCESS: Follow Highway 366 approximately 25.2 miles to Cunningham Campground. There is parking at the campground; look for the Cunningham Loop Trail sign along Swift Trail a short distance east of the campground. (see topo map included in the photoset)
90+° 8am - 6pm kills
Avoid Heat Illness - stay cool

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