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Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NM
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mini location map2014-10-21
25 by photographer avatarwinotron
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Echo Canyon Loop - Chiricahua NMTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 21 2014
winotron
Hiking4.30 Miles 820 AEG
Hiking4.30 Miles   2 Hrs   45 Mns   1.91 mph
820 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 no routes
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Continuing on our trip through Southeastern AZ, we headed out to the Chiricahuas for the first time. I had never been south of Safford/Roper Lake at all, so this was all new territory for me. After leaving Roper Lake we drove through the little town of Bowie, then Apache Pass. Unfortunately we didn't have time to hike the short trail down to the Fort Bowie ruins. Next time. Beautiful drive. No one else in the parking lot at all. After leaving Apache Pass we drove straight down the 186 to the Chiricahua NM. All the wide open grasslands surrounded by sky islands along the way were quite a sight.

The drive into the monument was awesome. Don't think I've ever seen so many oaks in one place. We stopped at the visitor center just to check it out, and grabbed a map. The woman in the visitor center told us there is no longer a fee to access the park. Makes sense, as the little booth at the entrance was closed up. We continued driving up to Massai Point. There were a few people at Massai Point and in and around the exhibit building, but it was mostly empty. Awesome views all around. So many hoodoos in every direction... I'd never seen anything like it. The weather was perfect.

We started our hike from here. Adding on the Massai Point nature trail and the short connector trail to Echo Canyon both ways, this came to 4.3 miles. Coming back up the connector trail added a good amount of AEG to the hike. We did the Echo Canyon Loop CCW. There is so much to see on this trail, and the landscapes and plant life are so varied, it's just amazing. Getting to hike through and climb around inside the grottoes was awesome. We hung out in there for quite a while.

After leaving all the grottoes we slowly descended into the canyon. We could hear a waterfall off in the distance but couldn't see it. All the dead trees combined with the lushness of the other plant life gave the canyon bottom a weird feeling. Dead and alive at the same time. I'm not sure if there's normally any water down here, but there was a little bit of running water and some mosquito-filled pools here and there. Climbing back up out of the canyon was very slow and gradual...very gentle slope. There was a lot of grass along the trail here and the area was just full of big black and green grasshoppers. I wasn't familiar with them, but I guess they are "western horse lubbers"? Once we completed the loop, the hike back up the short connector trail was a little steep.

I wish we had allowed more time on our trip to hike here. I was a little sad to leave. These mountains are so remote for someone like me from Phoenix that it's gonna be hard to justify the drive out here very often. I have to say it was definitely worth it though. SE Arizona has so much to offer in terms of natural beauty. I can't wait to come back. Long write up for a short hike, I know, but this is a hike I'll never forget.

On our way home we went to Apple Annie's Orchard in Willcox and picked some fresh apples and pears, and bought some delicious apple bread from the bakery. We stopped in Benson and had dinner at the Horse Shoe Cafe (great down-home cooking!), and got some ice cream from the Old Benson Ice Cream Shop. Great way to end a wonderful trip!
Geology
Geology
Tafoni
Named place
Named place
Sugarloaf Mountain
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