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Mormon Ridge Trail #269 - 5 members in 14 triplogs have rated this an average 3.4 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Nov 18 2019
markthurman53
avatar

 Guides 104
 Routes 544
 Photos 6,493
 Triplogs 444

66 male
 Joined Jun 27 2015
 Tucson, Arizona
Saulsbury Mormon Ridge Loop, AZ 
Saulsbury Mormon Ridge Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Nov 18 2019
markthurman53
Hiking12.09 Miles 3,758 AEG
Hiking12.09 Miles   7 Hrs   44 Mns   2.10 mph
3,758 ft AEG   1 Hour   58 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
I headed back to the Chiricahua Mountains after a short break to Lincoln National Forest in Cloudcroft. This hike was on the Saulsbury Trail up to the Crest Trail near Chiricahua Peak. Returned on the Mormon Ridge Trail. I was planning a two day trip but reduced it to one because of an incoming storm. This will probably be the last hike up to the crest until early next spring, this storm is suppose to bring snow above 7000 feet and the crest is above 9000. I don't do snow hiking anymore if I can avoid it, I will leave that for the younger people. Great hike with almost 3800 feet of elevation gain.

Saulsbury Trail #263
The Saulsbury Trail is in fair condition and fairly easy to follow. There are a couple areas along the slopes above Saulsbury Saddle that the trail has a downhill slant to it making it a little harder to walk on and requiring a bit more concentration. It appears that the bears and deer do most of the the trail maintenance because there were a lot of droppings and the trail is narrow like a game trail. This is a steady uphill climb as should be expected for a 5.1 mile and 3200 feet of elevation gain. The only breaks are at the half dozen or so small saddles that are encountered before hitting the crest trail. Great views South, West and North from this trail. I do not believe I encountered any dead fall but I'm sure there were a few. The fact that I don't remember attests to the fact that they weren't an issue. To the north of the upper Saulsbury Trail (above Saulsbury Saddle) is Rock Creek and to the south is Saulsbury Canyon and later North Ward Canyon.

Upper Mormon Ridge Trail
This section of trail shown on old topo maps that goes from the Crest Trail Near Cimi Park to Mormon Ridge at the junction of Mormon Canyon Trail Does not exist anymore. From Google earth I could see a potion of this trail and with the GPS route I decided to give it a try. I never found a trace of it except for a short 50 yard stretch where it crosses over a ridge. This was a trek down loose dirt and rock and a crawl under groves of aspen tree sapling, deep gorges of upper Ward creek and near the junction with Mormon Ridge a log hop. Luckily the thorn bushes were not an issue. I'm still pulling thorns from my legs and fingers from the hike down Rattlesnake Trail to Rock Creek 2 weeks ago (gives me something to do while watching TV). The .8 mile stretch took me an hour. I remember one area in the aspen groves that I reminded myself out loud "go slow and easy because if anything goes wrong they would never find me." On the upside the views were terrific.

Mormon Ridge Trail #269
I was delighted to see that there actually was a trail, I had planned some extra time to do the 3.7 mile Mormon Ridge Trail in case it was another bush wack. The Trail is in fair condition very little dead fall but a bit overgrown, nothing terrible though. I only got off trail once where the first switchbacks occurred on the upper portion of the trail but was quickly remedied when I had a hard time locating the trail and then checked the GPS. This trail is on the south side of Mormon Ridge so it could be a bit warm, even with the cooler temperatures I was a bit warm at times. This trail ends at a signed junction on Turkey Creek road. From Turkey creek it is a short .5 miles back to the car.

Great hike. I could not of asked for better weather. Clear dry weather made for great views of the Huachuca, Dragoons, Santa Rita's Rincon, Dos Cabezas and Pinaleno Mountains.
_____________________
Aug 21 2019
LJW
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 Photos 329
 Triplogs 146

25 male
 Joined Jun 02 2019
 Phoenix, AZ
Chiricahua & Monte Vista Peak LoopTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Aug 21 2019
LJW
Hiking21.54 Miles 5,777 AEG
Hiking21.54 Miles   7 Hrs   15 Mns   3.19 mph
5,777 ft AEG      30 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Route Scout GPS Route Recorded on Route Scout View
Wanted to do a loop and visit Chiricahua and Monte Vista Peaks and decided it wouldn't be too far out of the way to add in Fly's Peak. Because of the trail conditions/loss of mapped trails, this one was a more difficult than I anticipated.

Drove up Turkey Creek Road and saw my low tire pressure light came on. Parked at the forest boundary and couldn't hear any air escaping from the tires, so I figured I'd be fine. Left the car there and headed up the road.

Took Mormon Ridge up. This one is overgrown especially once the trail reaches the pines. Sharp bushes and grass crowd the trail. Wanted to take the trail toward Fly's Peak where it intersects with Mormon Canyon, but that stretch of the trail is gone. It would be possible to navigate along it's old course and what's left of the cut, but it is overgrown to the point of nonexistence and had serious deadfall. Decided to take the only available ascending trail toward Chiricahua Saddle. This section is very overgrown as well with minor deadfall, but it's there.

Took the Crest Trail toward Fly's Peak. Trail is very thin until Cima Park. After that the trail is wide and clear until Round Park. A lot of Wildflowers on this section of the Crest Trail. Made it to the sign for the Fly's Peak Trail to find that this one is gone too, but it's a simple walk up through the grass. The trail does appear toward the top, but most of the ascent from the south has been lost. Seems like the trails from the north are alright. Fly's Peak/Round Park is a beautiful area, but the views from Fly's were the weakest of the day's three peaks.

Backtracked to the Chiricahua Peak Trail which gets just enough traffic to push the grasses down and maintain a slim trail. Very quick ascent. The top is very peaceful, and to me it's worth the trip. I would say I was undersold on this one.

The trail off the peak to Aspen Saddle mostly does not exist anymore. It's an easy off trail walk down though, through some really nice forest. Chiricahua Saddle Trail/Crest Trail 270D is in bad condition. It's sliding off the mountain on the backside of Chiricahua and is woefully overgrown. Spent a lot of energy just trying to stay balanced. Had a hard time staying on the trail in parts. That said, the views from here are some of the best of the loop.

The Crest Trail from Chiricahua Saddle to Monte Vista is tricky. It's overgrown with grass, but the grade is mostly still there if you look hard enough. It fades in and out, never more than a thin strip between the grasses. Would be tough without GPS. Easy to get off trail here. This was perhaps the most beautiful section of trail.

Monte Vista LO was unmanned and locked. If it's open, I imagine it's one of the only peaks in the Chiricahuas where you can get above the treeline. Still a very interesting place worth the trip regardless.

Morse Canyon has been worked since I was here in late October of last year. It was the only trail that seems to have been worked in the past few years. It's currently in great condition. At the top of Morse Canyon there were ~30 5gallon water jugs covered in taped cardboard. I imagine those aren't left for desperate hikers.

Never seen so much bear scat on a trip, especially on Mormon Ridge and Crest around Chiricahua Saddle/Monte Vista. The bears in AZ aren't too fearsome, but I wouldn't do this without the peace of mind of having some kind of defense.

Being unfamiliar with the area, I wouldn't do this without some navigation system either. The area is properly remote. I didn't see a soul the whole day, and not one of the campsites was occupied.

Turkey Creek road is liable to hold water in two parts as well. I left just as the rain was starting to pour high on the mountains, and the water was flowing into these sections of the road even before the rain had come that far down. Would have been impassible by my passenger car. The road is extremely well graded though, and when dry it is good all the way to the end at Morse Canyon.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Heavy wildflowers along parts of Crest and in Cima/Round Park, moderate the rest of the trip. None in Morse Canyon.
2 archives
Oct 19 2018
element58
avatar

 Routes 2
 Photos 11
 Triplogs 1

51 male
 Joined Jan 09 2018
 West Bend, WI
Mormon Ridge Trail #269Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 19 2018
element58
Hiking6.10 Miles 3,346 AEG
Hiking6.10 Miles   4 Hrs      1.53 mph
3,346 ft AEG30 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Partners none no partners
This was the first part of what was to be a multi day trip in the Chiricahua mountains. After meeting Johnny Ringo I drove past the trail head on the main access road twice before noticing it. I parked my car on a pull out section, wasn't sure if I could but this was the best I could find. Hard to find is a recurring theme.

The Mormon Ridge trail is currently clear of any downed trees, but it is rugged and not marked well. It is also very faint in many places. Quite often I found myself double checking to make sure I was still on. It is pretty much straight up with only a few sections of switch backs. Really nice views as you get closer to the top. As you get closer to the top some older trails maps and trip logs say the trail veers right. I found and the Green Trails map I had confirmed it would veer left in a long switchback that eventually comes and meets the Crest Trail #270, the Chiricahua Peak trail and very close to the Anita Park/Spring trail. Some trail signs are on the ground,some very worn, so I was glad I had maps and GPS to assist with navigation once I reached that section.

Again, nice views, and you are definitely earning them with this straight up climb.

Additionally Anita Spring trail is marked but faint, and you will do some tree hopping to get to the spring.It was trickling,full of water, cold and refreshing. A tree fell right next to it to make for a nice seat while you enjoy.

The other trails I hiked ranged from good to terrible. The Crest trail was clear and easy to follow with signs at many junctions. However, take that with grain of salt and check your headings, I found myself not trusting them that much.

I spent the night near Ojo Aqua Frio spring but never looked for it as I had plenty of water from Anita Spring. There is a lot of dead fall in the area but there is also a wonderful site to camp on that is east of the Crest trail and looks directly west. Tent and hammock friendly.

Unfortunately,for me the weather turned bad that night. High winds, rain and the clouds just sat on me all day. After half a day it wasn't clearing I headed back down. Trying my luck I went via the Saulsbury Trail. This is just a bad trail until you get way down in the canyon and even then it meanders and is hard to follow. The lower portion has some orange flagging tape but eventually that person got lost too and stopped marking it. :) At the top, it went from obvious, to faint, to is this a game trail to where did it go? Using map, compass and GPS I ended up doing a bit of bushwhacking (the rain and fog did not make following this any easier). I even found remnants of other hikers as well, a fleece jacket stuck on some thorns. All told I went over, under or around 103 trees from top to bottom.

I understand the whole area is much like this due to the past forest fires and weather events. It was hard, and if looking for a challenge, these are your trails. Eventually, I will try to get back to finish the rest of my trip.
Named place
Named place
Anita Spring

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Anita Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
Have to climb over quite a few trees but the water was flowing nicely. The tank holding quite a bit and overflowing.
Nov 13 2016
extremehikerba
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 Photos 104
 Triplogs 47

26 female
 Joined Oct 17 2016
 Phoenix
Chiricahua Peak 9,742Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Nov 13 2016
extremehikerbabe
Hiking0.75 Miles 283 AEG
Hiking0.75 Miles   8 Hrs   30 Mns   0.09 mph
283 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners none no partners
Did this hike as a loop. Started out on Morse Canyon Trail to Crest Trail to the peak then back down Mormon Ridge Trail. The weather was nice and hot in Phoenix when we left but as soon as we got to the mountains it was cold (for me at least). Camped there overnight then headed up to Morse Canyon around 8 am. The trail was pretty easy to follow, covered in pine needles and shaded the whole morning- good on a hot day but bad in the winter. I was pretty cold most of the way up despite it all being uphill. Easy switchbacks all the way up, killer on the cardio though. Reached the top where the trail connected to Crest trail, a sign was waiting for us. Seeing signs marking the trails are my favorite thing. We were finally in the sun and followed Crest towards the next intersection to get to the peak. Got to explore the fire lookout tower as well. This area was where you could split off to go down to Rucker lake but we stayed at the top and followed the next trail towards Chiricahua peak. This was about 3 miles and went along the top of the mountains. Very beautiful views along the way. Finally passed the sign pointing down to Mormon Ridge and headed the last mile to Chiricahua Peak. There was frost along the trail as we hiked to the top but we finally made it. Still cold at this point and it was about 1 pm by now. Lots of trees at the top, so not the best view, but still an accomplishment. Super tired from all the uphill climbing so we headed back the way we came and came down on Mormon Ridge. This trail was more to my liking as it was a bit rougher and reminded me of the Mazatzals (and probably because I was only going down). Trail overgrown a bit with some scratchy bushes but not too bad. Easy switchbacks on the way down. Finally made it to the truck by 5 pm. Would definitely wear warmer clothes next time but in the sun it was fairly nice. The trails were very easy to follow. Crest could be kind of difficult sometimes but cairns along the way helped you along. Cannot wait to go back and explore these mountains further!
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5 archives
Sep 20 2016
rwstorm
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 Guides 1
 Routes 125
 Photos 19,963
 Triplogs 900

72 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Mormon Ridge Trail #269Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Sep 20 2016
rwstorm
Hiking0.94 Miles 139 AEG
Hiking0.94 Miles      41 Mns   1.71 mph
139 ft AEG      8 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
This hike did not last long as I got off trail after crossing the creek right at the beginning. :lol: This is only the second time I have ever attempted this trail from the official trailhead along the road. Most of the time I simply bushwhack up the hill from the campground to intersect it. Oh well. :roll: I thought I was on track, but it turned out to be a faint game trail. So, just threw in the towel and headed back to the campground to figure out the next move. Since this was done about the same time as last year's camping trip with Paul and Jack here, the summer grasses were a royal pain. This time they got my allergies cranked up big time, and I ended up sniffling more than Trump at a debate. I had to take an allergy tablet back at camp. hehe.

https://youtu.be/NT ... CXMw
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Onward into oblivion!
May 27 2016
kwpapke
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 Guides 1
 Routes 6
 Photos 10
 Triplogs 16

66 male
 Joined Dec 28 2009
 Oro Valley, AZ
Mormon Ridge Trail #269Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Backpack avatar May 27 2016
kwpapke
Backpack10.00 Miles 3,108 AEG
Backpack10.00 Miles
3,108 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
Partners none no partners
Been exploring the Turkey Creek hikes lately, thought I'd give the Mormon Ridge trail a shot. Did a simple overnight, camped up near the peak. Mormon Ridge didn't seem as steep as some had described it - relentless yes, but no "straight up the mountain" sections to leave you panting. It is in reasonable shape compared to some of the other trails like Saulsbury, but not as clean as Morse.

I like this trail - great views, a couple of saddles to take in the surroundings, easy navigation.

I avoided the Mormon Canyon trail on this trip as I was concerned that it would be hard to follow, but on the basis of some of the recent triplogs I'm going to have to give it a shot next time I'm there.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Light
The Lupine were still blooming a bit, and there was an orange hedgehog cactus blooming in a couple of spots along the trail. The New Mexican Locust were also in bloom in a couple of spots along the trail - pretty, but nasty thorns!!
_____________________
Youtube channel for gear testing: https://www.youtube.com/c/KurtPapke
Apr 23 2016
friendofThunde
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 Guides 19
 Routes 283
 Photos 7,967
 Triplogs 750

37 male
 Joined Jan 21 2013
 AZ
Chiricahua Peak 9,742Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 23 2016
friendofThundergod
Hiking9.09 Miles 3,537 AEG
Hiking9.09 Miles
3,537 ft AEG   1 Hour   21 Mns Break
 
1st trip
I got an invite from John for a car camping weekend in the Chiricahuas and I was quick to accept. I have always been intrigued by the Chiricahuas, but I have been too preoccupied with other areas of the state to make the long drive and commit to something in that area. This weekend's hikes offered a nice intro into the area, a county high point, great hikings and some quality camping in the pines.

Chiricahua Peak was tabbed for Saturday. I was very elated to know that I was going to stumble across another county high point in this hike and initially thought that might be the highlight of this hike. As it turned out, the peak was pleasant, but the views were limited and the real highlights of the hike were probably some stretches along the ridgelines and the lower portions of Mormon Canyon. The first couple of miles up Mormon Canyon Trail were very pleasant with running water a couple of robust springs and some nice stands of pine. The hike then becomes a bit of a relentless climb, but nothing too overwhelming and along generally well-kept trails.

We tried an alternate approach to the summit and took a trail with little beta on it and only a hand drawn route. After a somewhat promising start, it turned out to not workout at all for us. After losing any semblance of the tread and some time spent navigating the eroded slope, most of us made the decision to shoot straight up the seemingly less-overgrown over hillside to our ridgeline trail that led to the summit. The climb was tough, but for us it seemed like a better alternative than continuing our off-trail contour along the steep slope.

It was nice to see several surviving pines on the summit, but they do hinder the great views one might expect from a county high point. We enjoyed our time on the peak nevertheless and after an extended stay finally made our way down. We opted for the out and back return minus the alternate route because it offered more shade and guaranteed water for the pups. The hike down was a bit of a knee-jarring ride at times, but it went by quick even with a few stops to let the dogs have their fun in the water.

In the end Mormon Canyon Trail made the hike for me, but I was happy to knock out a high point and the views while limited were still certainly redeeming enough to warrant the climb. The burnt out sections were a bit of a bummer. However, I thought there were enough nice stretches of great forest and areas seemingly untouched by previous fires to keep the scenic factor pretty top notch. There are also some pretty promising signs of rebirth in some of the burnt out areas to keep one positive about the future of this area.
Named place
Named place
Mormon Spring

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mormon Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
A very nice flow coming out of a larger pipe attached to an old concrete storage container, water from spring going into creek, which was flowing as well.
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3 archives
Apr 23 2016
Tough_Boots
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 Routes 67
 Photos 2,708
 Triplogs 755

41 male
 Joined Mar 28 2008
 Phoenix, AZ
Chiricahua Peak 9,742Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 23 2016
Tough_Boots
Hiking9.10 Miles 3,530 AEG
Hiking9.10 Miles
3,530 ft AEG
 no routesno photosets
1st trip
Partners partners
chumley
clairebear
friendofThundergod
John9L
This was day 2 of a car camping trip in the Chiricahuas. It was my first trip to the area and I really enjoyed it. We had quite the hiking group on this trip-- 6 humans and 4 dogs. We took the Mormon Canyon trail up to the junction with the Mormon Ridge Trail and the Saddle Trail and took the ridge trail a ways. It was destroyed and took quite a bit of effort to get through. It was especially challenging for the dogs. We decided to bushwack straight up and made the steep ascent. It was tiring but we made it. We hit the top of the ridge right near the junction with the Crest Trail and the summit trail. We headed up and had lunch. Unfortunately because of the tree coverage, the views are not exactly spectacular but its still a worthy peak. We headed back down and took the Crest Trail around to the Saddle Trail. Us with the dogs decided to take Mormon Canyon back down where we knew there would be shade and water and the others descended via Mormon Ridge. Great hike!
_____________________
"there is no love where there is no bramble."
--bill callahan
4 archives
Apr 23 2016
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Chiricahua Peak via Turkey Creek, AZ 
Chiricahua Peak via Turkey Creek, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 23 2016
John9L
Hiking10.76 Miles 3,773 AEG
Hiking10.76 Miles   6 Hrs   38 Mns   2.16 mph
3,773 ft AEG   1 Hour   39 Mns Break
 
1st trip
Chiricahua Peak has been on my to do list for at least a year. Claire & I had plans to hike it back in September but the road to Rustler Park was unexpectedly closed so we stayed near the National Monument. After the trip I did some research and saw trip reports starting from the west side in Turkey Creek. This looked like a great option and we worked out all the details and hit the road on Friday afternoon. Our plan is to day hike on Saturday & Sunday and hit a variety of trails in the area.

Chumley, Claire, Kyle and myself left Phoenix around 1pm and made the drive to the Chiricahuas. We made good time and found ourselves at Sycamore Camp around 4:30pm. The established campground was about half full with four parties so we continued up the road and spotted a sweet site right next to the creek. The turn off was blocked with some medium size rocks and we weren’t sure if it was a legal site. Chumley and I both had the motorized use plan PDF on our phones and saw this truly was legal camping so we moved the rocks and drove down. The site is magnificent with a fire ring and lots of room for camping. We set up camp and then drove back down the dirt road to get cell signal so we could text FOTG our camp location and other important items. Did someone forget hiking shoes?!?!

Saturday morning started slow for everyone. FOTG and Jackie arrived around midnight and all of us took our time with breakfast and gearing up. Our group of six people and four dogs left camp around 9am and walked down the road to Mormon Canyon Trail. We hit the trail and started making our way up canyon. This is a really nice trail that parallels the creek most of the way. It’s a steady gain that had all of us huffing and puffing as we made our way up. We took short breaks when needed and continued the climb up. The trail eventually leaves the creek and makes a few more switchbacks before leveling off at a saddle that is the junction with the Mormon Ridge Trail.

We took a short break and discussed our options. The known route heads to the southeast before turning for Chiricahua Peak. I noticed an old trail on some of the forest service maps that heads to the north. I didn’t have any info on the trail and made a hand drawn route for us to follow. We decided to go for it and this turned out to be a mistake. The route was very overgrown with lots of deadfall. I felt bad for the dogs but we kept pushing through. We could see the trail cut but had a very hard time staying on it. About a third of a mile across the route was completely consumed by new growth so we decided to bushwhack straight up the mountain. The going was very slow and difficult as each step slid down about six inches in loose dirt. We eventually topped out near Anita Park and were glad to be on the Crest Trail.

Once on the Crest Trail we made the final push for Chiricahua Peak. This last stretch was fairly easy besides some deadfall to navigate. Once up top we took an extended break and enjoyed the summit. The views are limited from all the trees but I didn’t mind. The temps were perfect with a nice breeze and I enjoy the cool mountain air at elevation. After our break we looked for an alternative route down the east side of the peak but couldn’t find an established route. We didn’t want to experience another route finding fiasco so all of us, except Chumley, went down the way we came up. From there we connected to Chiricahua Saddle. This trail was in good shape for the most part other than more deadfall. Once at the saddle we met back up with Chumley and continued down.

Our group decided to split at the top of Mormon Ridge & Mormon Canyon. FOTG, Jackie & Kyle decided to stay in the canyon so they could water the dogs. Claire, Chumley and myself headed down the Mormon Ridge Trail which was in good condition for the most part. There was some deadfall but no major issues. We made relatively good time as we headed down. The sun was beating down and I wouldn’t want to climb this trail on a hot and sunny day. We eventually hit the road which we followed back to camp returning around mid-afternoon.

This was a nice day on the trails. I really enjoyed the Mormon Canyon and Mormon Ridge Trails. I also enjoyed Chiricahua Peak. It doesn’t have the expansive views like Mount Wrightson but is still a quality peak. My biggest takeaway is the vast trail system in this range. Trails are all over the place and I would love to explore more of them. A return trip is definitely in the plans for some point in the future. Thanks to Chumley and FOTG for both driving.
Culture
Culture
Intrepid Back Shot
_____________________
1 archive
Apr 23 2016
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 668
 Photos 13,788
 Triplogs 1,462

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Chiricahua Peak 9,742Tucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Apr 23 2016
chumley
Hiking12.46 Miles 4,205 AEG
Hiking12.46 Miles   6 Hrs   52 Mns   1.81 mph
4,205 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Great day hike to the top of the Chiricahuas! Nice intro to the range for me too since I had not previously been anywhere near this part of the state before.

First impression: The Chiricahuas are unlike other sky islands in that they really are a mountain range, rather than just a single primary peak. Lots of peaks, ridges, and valleys and a very well developed trail system. I was afraid that the Horseshoe fires had destroyed this entire island, but was pleased to find quite a bit of beautiful forest, some old growth pines, and areas of healthy regrowth. The fire scarred areas can be jarring to see, but there's also some beauty to be found from them too. The variety makes it interesting.

Things I learned: Turkeys can fly! We saw rafter after rafter of these enormous birds. Thanks to a little canine encouragement, I was impressed to see how easy a 40-lb chunk of thanksgiving feast can get off the ground. I wouldn't use the word "graceful" but nonetheless, they would easily qualify as air force pilots in a third world country. :)

Mormon Canyon #352
We headed up this canyon trail and it is a real gem. The climb is relentless, steep, and features no breaks, but the terrain is shaded, cool, and serene. Water flowing in the creek for the first half made for pleasant conditions for the pups. Only the very top section had burned, but the trail was well maintained, and the burn opened up some great views.

The north cut toward Crest near Cima Park
At the top of Mormon Canyon and the junction with Mormon Ridge 269 we opted to head for the Crest trail via a trail on the north side of Chiricahua Peak. This is a terrible idea. This trail has been abandoned. Fire damage, erosion, deadfall, and new growth has taken over, and this trail should not be attempted. I've seen varying sources name this trail as the continuation of either Mormon Canyon or Mormon Ridge. Either way, don't bother with this one.

Crest Trail #270
I eventually hit the Crest Trail well south of Cima Park after making a direct ascent for the ridge. The ridge has been badly burned, but the Crest trail has been well maintained and is a relative highway.

Anita Spring Trail
I wanted to check out Anita Park and Anita Spring, and didn't see any sign of a route to get there anymore. I eventually circled the rocky outcropping at Anita Park off trail and headed toward the spring I had marked on my GPS. Despite the burn, the spring looked and tasted fantastic. Good flow and a great source of water. From the spring, it was easy to follow the tread of the old trail back up to the Crest. The sign is missing but there's a post which I somehow missed on the way by earlier.

Chiricahua Peak Trail
The Crest trail traverses the east side of Chiricahua Peak and didn't look particularly well-traveled. I headed up the peak trail to meet up with the others who had gotten ahead of me while I had been exploring Anita. The peak trail is in fine shape and easy to follow despite the burn.

Chiricahua Peak Southeast Descent
Maps showed a trail descending the southeast slope of Chiricahua Peak, but after a quick search, the group came up empty, and didn't want to repeat the experience above Mormon Canyon, so they all headed back the way they came, while I decided to look for the trail. After not too long, I found an old cut to follow, and this side of the peak didn't burn so travel is easy even if there had not been a trail. I followed the easy track until I joined the obvious junction with the Crest Trail that traverses the east side of the peak. It looked much better traveled on this end.

Route Scout was telling me I was close to Headquarters Spring. I opted not to make the trip since it dropped farther down the hill than I was willing to go. Shortly thereafter I arrived at a sign for Ojo Agua Fria #361, which I also skipped. Now in wide open, sandy burn area, I looked for the trail that cut back to the west, and didn't see an obvious cut. But just a few steps later I reached the well-marked junction with Crest Trail 270D to Chiricahua Saddle ... where I was headed.

Crest Trail #270D
This stretch of the crest trail that traverses the southern side of Chiricahua Peak was some of the nicest high-elevation trail of the trip. The eastern end traverses a gravelly burned slope before entering unburned forest and traversing some great rocky landscape and unbelievable trail construction through a boulder slope. It drops easily to Chiricahua Saddle, where I headed north a hundred yards to meet up with the others who had just arrived from the other side of the peak to get here. It's a short stretch through some burn with a couple of deadfall obstacles descending to the north and the junction of Mormon Canyon and Ridge trails where we had been earlier in the morning.

Mormon Ridge Trail #269
Claire, 9L and I decided to take the ridge trail, while the others took the canyon back down. The trail is impressively built, and generally easy to travel. I would not want to ascend this way, and in fact, having now done it once, I would probably stick with the canyon trail on the way down as well. It descends just below a south facing ridge, so the flora is small and desert-like, despite the elevation. It is exposed to sun and warmed up nicely despite the strong winds we had endured all day. The area from just above the wilderness boundary to the bottom had received recent maintenance. There were a couple of sections that were so well maintained, I wondered if they had brought the "trail machine" out there!

Turkey Creek back to camp
The Ridge trail reaches Turkey Creek road about half a mile below where the Canyon trail begins, so to complete the loop you have to do a short road walk. I hopped along the creek instead, finding a couple of cascades, a neat section of narrows with a dam, as well as a natural waterfall. I then found the old road cut on the opposite side of the creek as the current alignment and followed that in a pleasant forest setting adjacent to the creek. There were signs of an old homestead too. I continued upstream to the waterfall just below our camp where I got to brush up on my Spanish before settling into a chair with an ice cold beer and newfound socks!

This was an extremely enjoyable day hike and—except for that short stretch of trail that doesn't exist anymore and can be easily avoided—is an ideal trip for anybody staying in the Turkey Creek area. Thanks to 9L for planning this one! :)
Culture
Culture
Benchmark

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Anita Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
full and flowing. fresh, clear, and cold.
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Profound observer
Sep 19 2015
Sarae
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 Guides 1
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 Triplogs 92

39 female
 Joined May 14 2008
 Tucson, AZ
Chiricahua Figure 8 Loop, AZ 
Chiricahua Figure 8 Loop, AZ
 
Backpack avatar Sep 19 2015
Sarae
Backpack13.31 Miles 4,000 AEG
Backpack13.31 Miles2 Days         
4,000 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Tyler and I decided to spend the last weekend of summer exploring some trails in the Chiricahua Mts that we haven't been on before and checking out the condition of an old favorite destination, Anita Park.

We drove down to Sycamore Campground on Friday evening and were treated to a very colorful sunset. Sycamore was pretty busy, the only site left was right next to the bathroom, but beggars can't be choosers, so we set up camp and ended up having a surprisingly peaceful night of sleep. The sound of the creek running next to the campsite probably helped out with that.

Saturday morning, we got ourselves organized and then headed up to the Mormon Canyon TH. We parked the Jeep and started up the trail. The morning was very muggy and we were soon laboring up the steep trail and feeling grateful that there were at least clouds to shade us. The trail was overgrown with grasses in many places, but not that difficult to follow. We made it about halfway up the canyon before those clouds started lowering and a mist joined us on the trail. We were still in good spirits, so up and up we continued. We only found a few downed trees across the trail, not too bad at all. By the time we got to the top, it was late morning, and a soft, constant rain was falling. We decided to continue up towards the junction with one of the legs of the Crest Trail (#270B). We stopped for lunch, putting up our tarp to shelter from the rain and the wind that was picking up. At this point I suppose we could have decided to head back down, because there were no indications that the rain would let up, but since there was no thunder or lightning, we decided to continue and hope for a break in the weather in the afternoon. It's a short hike from our lunch junction to Junction Saddle, where a few trails intersect. We headed off to check out Anita Park, fill up our water, and see if there were any safe places to hang after the fire. The sign for Anita Park is basically just a post right now, and the start of the trail is covered by knee high grasses. As we came over the small rise and viewed Anita Park, it didn't look good for hangers. We continued down to the spring, passing one promising group of trees, and filled up our water supply. The Anita Spring looked pretty nice with a stone reinforced pool and good flow. We hiked back up the steep trail to check out the one spot it looked like we could hang. As we were surveying the rain got a bit heavier, and so we decided to commit, even though it was a pretty windy spot. We quickly set up the tarp and snacked and dried off a bit waiting for the rain to let up so we could finish setting up our hammocks. We had no such luck, so we got our rain gear back on and hastily set up our hammocks in between shivering. Thank goodness we have a giant tarp and that hammocks are so comfy, because it ended up raining for the rest of the evening. We called it a night at around 7pm and woke up the first time at midnight to a totally clear sky and fantastic star gazing. The wind had also completely died down, so the rest of our night's sleep was very quiet and comfortable.

Sunday morning, in the beautiful sunny weather, we had a decision to make. I had originally wanted to do a loop past Monte Vista peak and down Morse Canyon, but because we were a bit worn out from the day before, we decided to shorten things up a bit and complete a figure 8 loop by going around Chiricahua Peak and ending with heading down Mormon Ridge Trail. We packed up and headed out pretty quickly and started our hike out. We decided to wait to fill up our water so we would have an excuse to check out Headquarters Spring. The hike from Anita Park to Ojo Agua Fria trail was really, really pleasant. There are flowers ALL OVER along the crest. Most are a yellow flower that look like they are in the daisy family, but other colors are scatter around, too. They all appear to be loving the extra light that is available because the trees are gone. We made our side trip to Headquarters Spring, which had a few cairns to show the way. The spring box is a metal tub and the water looks pretty good with a small bit of flow. After getting back to the junction it was a short walk to Aspen Saddle, where we picked up another leg of the Crest Trail (#270D). The beginning of this trail contours through an area cleared of trees and some of the tread was pretty loose. As soon as we got back into un-burnt trees, the trail was solid and enjoyable. We switch-backed down to Chiricahua Saddle and then back over to the junction with Mormon Ridge Trail. We ate our lunch looking out over Mormon Canyon and then made our way easily to the Mormon Canyon/Mormon Ridge junction. The Mormon Ridge trail is obscured by fallen trees here, but we bypassed the mess and found it without too much trouble. The trail condition was pretty good after about 1/4 mile. There are quite a few shrubs and grasses that you have to push through, but the footing was pretty steady and the switchbacks made it a relaxing hike to the trailhead. The Mormon Ridge TH on Turkey Creek Rd is about .75 miles from the Mormon Canyon TH so we had to hike up the road to finally get back to the Jeep.

It was great to get back to the Chiricahuas. The damage from Horseshoe 2 fire was clearly devastating, but the area is still very beautiful and we didn't find it too difficult to navigate with our gps and good trail descriptions in hand.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Substantial
Tons of yellow, daisy-like flowers.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Anita Spring Quart per minute Quart per minute
The pool below the spring is clean and looks good.

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Headquarters Spring - Chiricahua Quart per minute Quart per minute
Metal tub is full and pretty clean.
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In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir
1 archive
Mar 07 2014
outdoor_lover
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 Guides 6
 Routes 23
 Photos 11,802
 Triplogs 529

57 female
 Joined Aug 19 2011
 Scottsdale, AZ
Turkey Creek Chiricahuas, AZ 
Turkey Creek Chiricahuas, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Mar 07 2014
outdoor_lover
Hiking5.60 Miles 1,200 AEG
Hiking5.60 Miles
1,200 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
Linked linked
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Born and Raised in AZ and growing up, I did not get a chance to see much of AZ...Saw the White Mountains once, the Mogollon Rim a few times, how to get to and from the Bass Fishing Reservoirs many times and got to know the Drive to Orange County, CA via Wickenburg annually....I left AZ when I was 21 and moved to MN for 14 years. When I got back, I worked for an ADOT Subcontractor and since I was doing the Field Work, the State of Arizona opened up for me, via the State Highways...

Approximately 12 years ago, I worked a 10 Mile Project in Sunizona and saw that area of the State for the first time...The Dragoons intrigued and the Chiricahuas looked temptingly close since our Project started pretty much at the turnoff with Hwy 191. A few of the Weeks I was down there, I worked alone, so a couple of those days, I had the luxury of doing a couple of "Scenic" Drives after I was done working...I went to the Monument once and drove around it a little, seeing as much as I could before Dark...Before I even did that Drive, I went straight off 181 onto Turkey Creek Road and followed it all the way to the End...There was a Trail at the End and I actually Hiked the Trail for awhile before turning around due to darkness...

I have not been back to the Chiricahuas since then, but I always thought that I would like to return...


This was the Trip. After Whitewater Draw, I went to Sunsites to borrow an Inverter from a Friend so I could still run my Camera. I had pretty much come to the realization that 3 Camera Batteries on this Trip was ridiculously inadequate. :sweat: After a nice visit, I took off to retrace the Drive from my Past...Since it was a Friday, I hesitated to do the Monument, both for possible lack of Campsites and just the thought that it might be pretty crowded over the Weekend. So I made the Decision to go to Turkey Creek again. It was a good call. Although there seemed to be only one decent "dispersed" Camping Spot along the Creek and it was being taken up by several RV's, I found that the Sycamore Campground was completely empty, so I decided to Camp there. The area has changed quite a bit since I was first there 12 Years ago...Only one other Vehicle pulled in that Night so it stayed very nice and quiet. I timed this Trip nicely. Turkey Creek had a nice Flow....After settling in a bit, I decided to just go up the Creek a ways and check it out...I went about 1 1/2 Miles RT, taking the Road back...

My Friend had warned me that the Weather was supposed to turn bad by Saturday, but Friday night was ok and I didn't get the Wind that was expected. The next morning, it was looking like the Weather was building pretty good, but after actually cooking a nice Breakfast, I decided to go for a Hike anyway...I didn't have any Trail Maps, but had noted some "TH" Markers at certain points along the Road with one of them being downstream from me, so I headed Downstream. I got to a "TH" and tried to make Heads or Tails out of what the "Signs" were trying to tell me, but since I had not researched any of this, it wasn't making much sense. I noticed that another Creek was joining Turkey Creek just Downstream, so I decided to follow it up a ways as well. Looking at it now, it was Saulsbury Canyon. I then doubled back to the TH trying to follow a Trail that I found, but it kept disappearing. This must have been Saulsbury Trail, but judging by how hard it is to follow, it's been awhile since it's been maintained...No matter, I would then just follow the Creek again. I wanted to get some Elevation today so I jumped on the one Trail that seemed evident. This turned out to be Mormon Ridge Trail and it climbed out of the Creekbed right away and stayed nice. I jumped off the Trail at one Point and went up to Peak 6789 to see the Scenery on the other side of the Ridge...I didn't stay there long as the Skies continued to get Darker and Darker and I could see Flashes and hear Thunder in the Distance. I went a little further up the Trail and around that Peak and then decided to turn around and head for the Barn before I got really caught in the Storm. When I got back to the TH, I tried to follow what is supposed to be the Mormon Canyon Trail, but again, couldn't follow it very well as it kept disappearing, so I finally jumped on the Road and walked back to the Campground. The Weather was still dark, but it wasn't Raining yet, so I grabbed my Tripod and another Camera and headed to a Spot on the Creek just downstream from the Campground and grabbed a few more Shots. The Clouds cleared for about two seconds and then it really was starting to Rain, so I spent the rest of the Day in Camp with the Tarp up. It got pretty cold up there... :sweat:

The next morning I packed up Camp and headed back to Sunsites before beginning my Road Meander back to Safford.

It was a good Trip in here...I didn't get a lot of Hiking in, but I became much more familiar with the area and will return to do some more...And next time, I'll have Maps... :sweat: Not sure about Hiking up to the big Ridgelines though, they were looking pretty fried from the Horseshoe 2 Fire still. But, it might be worth a Trip for the Summer Wildflowers. :)

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mormon Canyon Medium flow Medium flow

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Saulsbury Canyon Light flow Light flow
_____________________
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty & well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming, "Wow What a Ride!"
Oct 02 2011
tibber
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 Guides 21
 Routes 582
 Photos 26,668
 Triplogs 886

64 female
 Joined Feb 26 2004
 Phoenix, AZ
Mormon Canyon Loop - ChiricahuaTucson, AZ
Tucson, AZ
Hiking avatar Oct 02 2011
tibber
Hiking7.50 Miles 2,612 AEG
Hiking7.50 Miles   7 Hrs   30 Mns   1.67 mph
2,612 ft AEG   3 Hrs    Break
 
Partners partners
rwstorm
So today was the day that I thot I was gonna attempt a 12 mile hike with serious elevation, for me anyway. So wrong Chiricahua breath! I realized after the first 2 miles and gosh knows how much elevation gain, the later start, the lack of fuel in my body and the ominous weather, the chances weren't good. :(

This first four miles is a doozy :sweat: though incredible :D . It gets even more scenic the higher you get. I particularly liked the views toward the Dragoons where I had been two weeks earlier. And of course there's the view of the Peaks (Johnson, Monte Vista) to your south that attract your interest.

The trail got dicey in a couple sections. One time it was particularly tricky but come to find out, we had missed an immediate switchback which we noticed as we were making our way back across the side of the hill. Randy realized a couple times that he should have turned & I should have been paying more attention too :doh: instead of going straight so it's important that a person be mindful of these abrupt switchback turns. The wrong way had been properly blocked but with the fire and water and such, those road blocks had been moved around a bit and were quite subtle. But I don't mind a little scrambling so it was actually kind of fun.

Probably the 8) est part of this trek was when we got to the top of one of the switchbacks where we were treated to spectacular, almost 360 degree views. We took a 10 minute break here. Little did we know what a fantastic show we would get as we walked across the north side of the ridge. Though there was some burn, the greenery and the wildflowers above Ward Canyon and beyond were absolutely magnificent :y: . We were very happy hikers. Plus an added bonus, this was the level part of the hike for about 10 minutes. It was great.

Eventually you get back over to the south side of the ridge above Mormon Canyon and it's back to the up and up :sweat: . The up is not dramatic, it's just forever it seems. The weather would threaten from time to time so Randy wanted us to keep going steady. As we were walking along through some great wildflowers, I told Randy I wasn't gonna be able to do the entire hike. He had already given me two bailout routes and I told him, I wanted to take the bailout at Mormon Saddle and head down the canyon rather than try the ridge and the rest of the hike. We were fighting time and weather, I was fighting hunger at this point.

Eventually I kept plugging along and still managed to enjoy almost all of this ridgeline elevation except the 1/2 mile before we finally got into a more protected area where Randy timidly proclaimed there looked to be another corner to go around and I proclaimed, I had to eat :lol: . He agreed that this spot would work fine. It did turn out to be a scenic area with nice views across Ward Canyon toward the Saulsbury Crest Trail area and Anita Peak. It was nice to see some of the various peaks in the Chiricahuas in person. Here is the video from the Ridge part of the hike:
http://youtu.be/PxBAhXL6VVw

We ended up probably being about 1/4-1/3 mile from the Junction. I am glad we chose to have lunch where we did because I thot the views were much better. Next, it was all downhill :DANCE: as they say. This wasn't the easiest downhill but at least I didn't need as much lung power. It was here I was particularly glad Randy had done this part of the hike a few times last year as the trail was no where to be found in a couple cases :-k . Eventually of course, we would hook back up with the trail.

The scenery was so interesting especially the deeper we got into the canyon. And as we got deeper there were cairns that helped guide us as the trail would disappear again. We passed by some cool mossy covered rocks and trees. Randy told me we should be coming closer to the where the water suddenly appeared from under the rocks. Soon I hear him say, "I think the creek is just ahead". Less than one minute later we are struggling to get our jackets on as quickly as possible :o .
No, it wasn't the creek, it was a hail storm :lol: (which I thot I was filming but apparently I didn't press the movie button never engaged). We would hear the creek flowing in about 10-15 minutes. So now if you're ever hiking with Randy and he says he thinks the creek is just ahead, grab your jacket. This moment, in spite of the hail, provided great levity.

I think because this is such a long and tightly-treed canyon, it gives off a sense of spookiness :scared: but especially on this kind of weather day. As we started to get closer to the bottom, we came across an area where I noticed debris up in the tree and then in another tree. At first we were surpised that the water would have flowed that high, well above us, but then realized the water had probably got caught between some very tall boulders and had pooled up. That must have been something. Here is the video from the Canyon part of the hike: http://youtu.be/PxBAhXL6VVw

Soon we were back at camp, having a beer, taking down the tarp and on the road but not before stopping at John Ringo's gravesite. I had read a little about him while doing my research for this hike. His death is very interesting. We were also lucky to enjoy a beautiful sunset all around us and lightning storms in the very far north and east as we made our way toward Benson on Dragoon Road via Sunizona. We had a great Mexican meal at a restaurant Randy wanted to try on main street before we parted ways in Tucson.
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Moderate
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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.
Oct 02 2011
rwstorm
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 Guides 1
 Routes 125
 Photos 19,963
 Triplogs 900

72 male
 Joined Feb 28 2003
 Tucson, AZ
Mormon Ridge & Canyon Loop, AZ 
Mormon Ridge & Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Oct 02 2011
rwstorm
Hiking7.00 Miles 2,700 AEG
Hiking7.00 Miles
2,700 ft AEG
 no routes
1st trip
After driving down the previous week to check out the Chiricahuas from the road, I decided to go down this weekend and camp in West Turkey Creek and do some hiking. I invited several people to join me, but only Angela decided it was worth doing given the weather forecast of stormy conditions. I almost called it off, but hurricane Hilary became a non-factor as far as creating a monster event, so the trip was on.

We arrived in the area around noon Saturday and since there were a number of people in the best spots at Sycamore CG, we headed up the road a short ways to check out a spot I like as an alternative. Nobody was there, so we set up camp before the rains came. Glad we put the tarp up! It rained pretty good for about an hour, then moved on, so we got a little hiking in. Angela had never been there, so I wanted to show her all the cool spots near camp. That worked out well, then more showers moved in as we got back to camp. But we gradually got the fire going, had dinner, and by dark all was well as the rain let up, and we relaxed enjoying wine and conversation. :)

Shortly after heading for bed around 10 PM, the rain returned and persisted most of the night. The lightning never got too close, so it was quite pleasant for sleeping with with the sound of the nearby creek and rain on the tents to act as a lullaby.

The rain had stopped by 6 AM when I got up to get the coffee going. It was a wet but beautiful morning. After a leisurely morning in camp, we started our hike around 9. The original plan was to do my typical adventurous loop up to the Crest Trail near Chiricahua Peak, then head clockwise past Paint Rock to Monte Vista Lookout, finishing by going back to camp via the Morse Canyon Trail.

We had determined by hiking about a mile up the Mormon Canyon Trail Saturday that it would be better to do the hike up Mormon Ridge instead, due to the flood damage we saw. That turned out to be a good idea, but even so there were spots high up with trail damage. We didn't start early and our pace was slow, so we decided to shorten the hike when we got near the Mormon Ridge/Canyon junction at around 8800 feet. By then the storms were developing again nearby to further convince us. The section of Mormon Canyon Trail immediately below the junction has been in bad shape from previous fires, and it is even worse now. There is about a quarter mile of tough route finding, before the trail becomes more obvious. But even then, the amount of post fire damage was amazing, in places blowing out the trail (which more or less hugs the bottom of the canyon). Once you get to the old sawmill site, you pick up the old logging road for the finish, but even that was hammered by the runoff this summer.

Our camp was at about 6500 feet, Sycamore CG is at 6300 feet, and the official Mormon Ridge trailhead is at 6200 feet (and about .7 mile from our camp). I hadn't hiked on the Mormon Ridge Trail since the 1990s, since I much prefer going up the canyon route and stay out of the sun. But the views from the ridge route were very nice (burned trees and all). This is a fine part of the western Chiricahua Mountains, with its easy access and an excellent array of trails.

Mormon Spring was blasted by lateral runoff, and the pipe from the spring box was missing, but there was a gallon plus per minute flowing out of the ground. This is a very lush canyon and the spring is very reliable.

On our way home Sunday evening, we stopped at the John Ringo grave site by the Sanders Ranch and had dinner in Benson. Yet another fine Chiricahua trip in the books! :)
Meteorology
Meteorology
Cumulonimbus
_____________________
Onward into oblivion!
average hiking speed 1.83 mph

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.

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