|Thunder Mountain Loop plus high points, AZ|| |
Thunder Mountain Loop plus high points, AZ
|Hiking||5.41 Miles|| 2 Hrs 50 Mns ||2.09 mph|
|1,154 ft AEG|| 15 Mns Break|
|well it's been a few weeks since I've done this so the videos will better tell you the story. I parked at the Andante TH off of Andante Rd which is off of 89. It is a small TH with room for about 8 cars and I think you can park in the vicinity. I barely squeezed Tonto 3 in and worried a little of people getting in and out of their cars but no scratches or notes when I got back so I guess I was okay.|
These were all new trails for me and it was lots of fun though a tad warm from time to time. I started the Chimney Rock Loop clockwise. On the Thunder Mountain Trail You soon lose site of the Chimney Rock as its high above you. I headed west at the junction on the Little Chimney Rock Trail toward the Little Sugarloaf for my first high point of the day. You attack this from the NNE side. The climb is steep and a bit slippery and much worse coming down but it's short. The views on top are fabulous of course. With all the hiking we had done this week I could see almost everywhere I had been which would be the case on the Sugarloaf Summit as well.
Once I got down I almost missed the Upper Chimney Rock Trail I wanted to stay on so be mindful you have to backtrack a tad to get back on the Chimney Rock Loop that heads north and east. This, other than the occasional view to some houses, was the prettiest part of the hike as you complete the circle around the chimney which from the west side looks like three fingers. Eventually you reach Chimney Rock Pass and on the way down there are steps here and there. The trail is really quite nice the entire time in this area.
There is one area as you get on what I call the Upper Thunder Mountain Trail where I got a tad distracted and started going up a drainage but quickly realized this was not right. I made my way east admiring the landscape and occasional boulders along the way as well as the blooming prickly pear cactus. It was from the bottom of Chimney Rock pass that I started to encounter a few more hikers. There is some nice construction on this trail. You reach a junction that puts you back on the Thunder Mountain Trail that eventually heads east to the Teacup Trail for a little bit. Once I reached the junction with Sugarloaf I thot you would go straight up that NW side but you actually hike a little further to the Sugarloaf Loop.
At the Sugarloaf Summit sign you head up a fairly nice grade. This is a fun summit and you are rewarded with nice views once again. I was able to see where we were staying and many of the areas I had hiked during the week... lucky me to be able to hang out and hike almost every day. As I got back down I gave thot to hiking the Teacup Trail east but decided it was warmer than I liked so I headed back on the Andante Trail which is a little more scenic than I thot until I took a nose dive to become one with the trail. As I gathered myself I heard a bike rider coming so I yelled "hiker down" so he wouldn't roll over me as it was on a corner. He, along with another hiker, asked if I was okay and it seemed I was. I grabbed a picture of the rock that tripped me, poured water on the scrape on my right arm (yes, the one with the formerly broken wrist of course), got up and finished the hike back to the TH which was less that 1/2 mile away I think.
Anyway, this was a good hike and I wouldn't mind doing it again to finish up the east side of the loop that actually joins up with the Soldier Pass area. It was a lousy morning for photos though. And now to get back to the Hyatt for that morning reward of a beer. Ambika and I had hoped to do a little hike in the late afternoon but Grasshopper Point was closed.
Here are a few videos I made:
Part 1 Chimney Rock Loop and Little Sugarloaf Summit [ youtube video ]
Part 2 completing Chimney Rock Loop/Pass and Thunder Mountain Trail [ youtube video ]
Part 3 finishing off the hike with Thunder Mountain Trail and Sugarloaf Summit and Andante Trail [ youtube video ]
|For me, sometimes it's just as much about the journey as the destination. |
Oh, and once in awhile, don't forget to look back at the trail you've traveled.