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Herb Martyr Trail #247
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mini location map2021-05-22
28 by photographer avatarbretinthewild
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Herb Martyr Trail #247Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack17.00 Miles 4,756 AEG
Backpack17.00 Miles4 Days         
4,756 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
First exploration of the Chiricahua Wilderness! A fun adventure with my brother, whom I'd not seen in more than a year. Hopefully this log will be helpful for anyone seeking to plan a backpack into this area. There doesn't seem to be too many HAZ logs for these parts.

Here's a breakdown of our trip:
Day 1: Car camp at Herb Martyr Campground
Day 2: Hike up Herb Martyr Trail, dry camp at Pine Park (near Snowshed Trail junction)
Day 3: Camp at Anita Park
Day 4: Camp at Cima Cabin
Day 5 Hike out on Greenhouse Trail

Day 1
We drove from Phoenix to Portal on a Saturday afternoon. We car camped at Herb Martyr Campground. It was about half full (ie 2 other groups). There are some nice open walk-in sites, bear-proof trash cans and a toilet, just no running water.

Day 2
We started our hike from the campground parking lot on the Herb Martyr Trail (which is marked "Basin Trail 247" at the TH). The hike takes you up into the mountain at a steady pace. Our goal was to dry camp at Pine Park, just 3 miles, but 2200 feet in elevation gain. We each carried 6L of water and it took us 2.5 hours. Set up camp and enjoyed time soaking in the views and the sunset.

Day 3
We continued on Snowshed Trail on our way to the Crest Trail. This section of the wilderness was badly burned in the Horseshoe II fire in 2011. It is very exposed, hot and dry, but being between 8000-9000ft elevation the breeze kept us cool enough. We planned to fill up water at Deer Creek, which seemed to be running slowly, but I misread the map and thought it wasn't the right spot so we kept going. Skipping the spring would haunt us a bit later as we started running low on water after last night's dry camp.

At the trail junction on Snowshed Saddle, we attempted to find Aspen Trail #246A to take us around Aspen Peak on the northeast side, but we couldn't find the trail amongst all the young aspen trees. Rather than go all the way around to the southwest side, we opted just to go off-trail straight up and over Aspen Peak and down to Aspen Saddle.

From Aspen Saddle we ran down to Headquarters Spring, which I had read on a local blog was fairly reliable. But alas, the spring was bone dry. Rather than trying our luck at Ojo Agua Fria (an extra mile round trip), we opted to go over to Anita Park and see if we could find water at Anita Spring. As luck would have it, there was a perfectly nice cool pool of water waiting for us at Anita Spring. Thrilling.

We opted to camp at Anita Park that night, next to a nice young grove of Aspen Trees that gave us protection from the wind, which eventually died down. The camp spot was also pretty safe as far as any potential treefall from the many dead ponderosas in the area. Total for the day ~6 miles (Pine Park to Anita Park w/ spring hunting).

Day 4
Leaving Anita Park we took the Crest up to Cima Park. There are some incredible views on this section of trail. At Cima Park we took the Greenhouse Trail down, attempting to find Cima Spring and a potential place to camp on our last night. Where Cima Spring is marked on the map, there was a spring box but it was dry. We continued on maybe just 0.5 mile further and came to a couple idyllic forest service cabins with an amazing camping area, fire ring, clean pit toilet and spring box full of water. It was set in an unburned section of pine forest, which is fairly rare in this area. What a find! We camped here, of course. We also enjoyed a nice day hike up to Round Park for lunch.

Day 5
We finished off the Greenhouse Trail and a bit of primitive road hiking to finish the loop to the car at Herb Martyr. Greenhouse Trail is only about 4 miles but it drops about 3000 feet. There is a neat viewpoint of Winn Falls, which were dry this time of year (late May) but I'm told are often icy and running in early spring.

Overall, this is a really cool place, as long as you are OK with hiking up steep mountains, scrounging for springs at times (as we do in AZ) and walking through some pretty heavily fire damaged areas. We experienced tremendous solitude -- after leaving the campground on Sunday we didn't see another soul until returning to the car on Wednesday. That was pretty special.
 Culture [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Campsite
 Named place
 Named place [ checklist ]
[ checklist ]  Anita Spring  Cima Spring  Winn Falls

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Anita Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Nice clean pool in the side of the hill. Was refilling itself slowly.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Cima Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Full spring box, located just below Cima Cabin. Has a lid on it, need to lift it up. See photos in triplog.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Deer Spring Dripping Dripping
Dripping from the side of the hill

dry Headquarters Spring - Chiricahua Dry Dry
Just a dry tub. Very disappointing.

dry Winn Falls Dry Dry
Not running at all
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