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Monte Vista Peak - Chiricahua - 3 members in 4 triplogs have rated this an average 4.3 ( 1 to 5 best )
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Aug 21 2019
LJW
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 Photos 125
 Triplogs 123

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
Jun 04 2016
DevilChild
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 Routes 4
 Photos 159
 Triplogs 23

40 male
 Joined Apr 03 2016
 Phoenix, AZ
Morse Canyon - Mormon Canyon Loop, AZ 
Morse Canyon - Mormon Canyon Loop, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Jun 04 2016
DevilChild
Hiking10.64 Miles 3,196 AEG
Hiking10.64 Miles   11 Hrs   40 Mns   1.14 mph
3,196 ft AEG   2 Hrs   18 Mns Break15 LBS Pack
 
1st trip
Old but memorable trip so figured I would share. A few weeks prior I had hike around Chiricahua NM and wanted to camp at Turkey Creek and hike around to at least see Monte Vista Peak or Chiricahua Peak. My birthday was over the weekend and got a few like minded individuals together for a nice weekend of camping, hiking, and relaxing as far away from Phoenix as possible.

Started the day much later than anticipated, planned for start of the Morse Canyon TH about 530 but turned into 7ish. Didn't seem a big deal at first but nearing the end we would miss those 2 extra hours. Morse Canyon was an enjoyable easy to follow trail blanketed with pine needles that just seemed like a never ending ramp. Our group consisted of differing ability levels so very slow speed, plenty of breaks, and many words of encouragement. Great views and fallen logs to pass as annoying as they were it was fun to clear the log obstacles. We all felt like the worst was over once we reached Morse Saddle. This is where my troubles began, had to do some impromptu foot care as I was getting nasty hotspots on the last .5 mile of the trail.

Quick rest and continued on to Monte Vista Peak. Hike was much less of a climb but still noticed the incline especially when nearing the junction for Monte Vista Peak. The trail up Monte Vista seemed to have the most challenging terrain with a few fallen trees that were quite large. We all looked like we were playing in a charcoal grill all soot covered by the time we made it to Monte Vista Peak. Holy cow, the views up here were simply amazing and gave crystal clear views to the surrounding ranges and sky islands.

Originally planned to hit Chiricahua Peak after Monte Vista Peak but our rate of travel and current time had us skip it. We continued along crest trail #270B towards Raspberry Ridge surrounded by encroaching new forest growth, fallen trees, and signs of past forest fire everywhere. In some cases the trail was soft patches of ash. At Raspberry Ridge we got one of the best experiences as two A-10s were doing mock attack runs down the ridge. They circled back and approached us a few hundred feet above. We waved, screamed, and the lead plane rewarded us with a wing tip and thumb's up from the cockpit. Pilot so close felt like you could reach up and high-5 him. His partner was a little more conservative and passed us higher up and only then was I smart enough to grab my camera.

Crest Trail to Mormon Trail Saddle was beautiful especially at Painted Rock but this was where we all started to feel the heat and sun. Trail was mostly exposed here and just felt like it was kicking our ass even though it was mostly level.

We all cheered when we reached Mormon Saddle and started down Mormon Canyon or as we would later call it god-damned Mormon Canyon or never ending Mormon Canyon due to the very rough terrain and poor trail conditions. Got our second surprise of the day when we startled a slumbering black bear and her cub about .5 mile in. They were on the opposite side of the creek and fled full speed away clearing the ridge within 30 seconds. Never expected bear to move that fast. Clearing Mormon Canyon was the greatest feeling ever as it signaled celebration with cold water, cold beer, and junk food.

Things I learned from this trip:
    Chiricahuas in June is hot (duh).
    Never try new hiking socks for first time on a trip like this.
    Have plenty of moleskin and blister care with me.
    Chiricahuas are full of wildlife, plan accordingly.
    Black bears are not tiny, black bears are not slow.
    Never, ever, ever open the door to the outhouse on top of Monte Vista Peak. Ever.
Fauna
Fauna
Hepatic Tanager

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water 3 out of 5water less than max Mormon Spring Gallon per minute Gallon per minute
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Apr 24 2016
chumley
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 Guides 75
 Routes 667
 Photos 13,266
 Triplogs 1,425

46 male
 Joined Sep 18 2002
 Tempe, AZ
Monte Vista Peak, AZ 
Monte Vista Peak, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 24 2016
chumley
Hiking10.89 Miles 3,291 AEG
Hiking10.89 Miles   4 Hrs   48 Mns   2.69 mph
3,291 ft AEG      45 Mns Break
 
1st trip
This was a fantastic day hike from the Turkey Creek area, and a great 2nd day in the Chiricahuas. If I had only one day to do a loop here, I would combine Morse Canyon, Monte Vista, Raspberry Ridge, Chiricahua Peak, and Mormon Canyon for the best possible loop. But you really can't go wrong with any of these options!

Morse Canyon 43
This is one of the nicest trails I have ever hiked. It climbs 2000 feet in 2 miles and you almost wouldn't know it. The trail cut is exquisite! (Seriously, when do you use that word for trail!?) Beautiful shaded pine forest, and consistent, steep grade. We did it in about an hour, and I remember thinking that JJ would probably motor up it in half the time. It would actually be a great trail for running (if you're a crazy person into that sort of thing!)

Turtle Mountain 219
We hiked this trail 1.5 miles around the north side of Monte Vista Peak to the summit spur trail. It's climbs gently through some patchy burn areas but is generally in great shape and there are no problems to hike it.

Monte Vista Peak
There's a short .2 mile spur from the Turtle Mtn/Raspberry Ridge/Monte Vista junction up the east slope of the peak. The views from the lookout were the highlight of the weekend. Make this one mandatory if you're in the area.

Turtle Mountain 219
We backtracked 1.5 miles to the top of Morse where we had come up earlier but continued on Turtle Mountain 2 more miles traversing around Johnson Peak and some other small peaks and ridges. This section of trail was in great condition and included a brief uphill stretch. There were a couple of short sections with easy deadfall, but for the most part this is pleasant hiking in unburned, healthy pine forest.

Pole Bridge 264
Upon reaching the saddle at the top of Pole Bridge Canyon, we began the steep descent. This trail was in fine shape and reasonably nice, but nothing compared to Morse Canyon. The first mile is steep, and features numerous switchbacks through an exposed burn area. There were a couple of spots where finding the trail took a second glance, but nothing treacherous. The grade moderated at the bottom of the canyon and the trail just followed the drainage, which was dry until the last mile or so when we encountered some pools of water. The bottom part of the trail appears to have once been an old road, and an older fire had burned through the area. Recent trail maintenance has made it fairly easy to follow, but the burn has left little shade and the lower elevation here makes it considerably warmer than the rest of the hike.

From the bottom of Pole Bridge, we had to hoof it a mile back up the road to camp in order to finish the loop. There were joined Kyle and Claire enjoying beverages by the fire before packing up and heading for delicious tacos at BKs in Tucson on the way home! :)
Fauna
Fauna
Merriam's Turkey
Meteorology
Meteorology
Forecast
wildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observationwildflower observation
Wildflowers Observation Isolated

water 1 out of 5water 2 out of 5water less than maxwater less than max Morse Canyon Light flow Light flow
Not sure why this is called Morse Canyon, but the creek at the point this is marked on the map was flowing nicely.

water 1 out of 5water less than maxwater less than maxwater less than max Pole Bridge Canyon Pools to trickle Pools to trickle
The lower mile had some small stagnant pools and areas with very light clear flow. The entire upper canyon was dry.
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Profound observer
Apr 24 2016
John9L
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 Guides 6
 Routes 170
 Photos 4,848
 Triplogs 1,619

male
 Joined Mar 12 2004
 Scottsdale, AZ
Monte Vista Peak via Turkey Creek, AZ 
Monte Vista Peak via Turkey Creek, AZ
 
Hiking avatar Apr 24 2016
John9L
Hiking10.91 Miles 3,369 AEG
Hiking10.91 Miles   4 Hrs   49 Mns   2.62 mph
3,369 ft AEG      39 Mns Break
 
1st trip
On Sunday our group, minus Claire & Jackie, headed up the Morse Canyon Trail. The four of us and dogs made good time up this steep trail. We were glad to find it in good condition overall. The trail makes a lot of switchbacks and the lower stretch is completely clear. The upper portion has some deadfall but it’s only a nuisance. We eventually topped out on the saddle next to Johnson Peak and discussed our options. Chumley & I wanted to push on Monte Vista Lookout while Kyle & FOTG and the dogs would return back down Morse Canyon.

The going to Monte Vista Peak is fairly straightforward as it follows the Crest Trail. There was more deadfall but none of it was too bad. The last stretch makes a good climb to the peak and you know you’re close when you see the lookout tower and cabin on the summit. The views up top were better than Chiricahua Peak as there aren’t as many trees. We enjoyed this peak tremendously and then returned to the saddle above Morse Canyon. From there Chumley and I continued around Johnson Peak and headed for Pole Bridge Trail. This top section was loaded with deadfall and was a pain to get through. I was a little worried but luckily it didn’t last too long.

The Pole Bridge Trail makes a steep descent through the forest as it switchbacks down the drainage. You eventually hit the creek bottom and follow that down. There was some deadfall along this trail but it was fine overall. The top section was the nightmare! We continued down and eventually hit the road and returned to camp thus completing our weekend getaway to the Chiricahuas. We packed up camp and then made a quick stop at Johnny Ringo’s Grave and then returned to Phoenix.

I really enjoyed the Chiricahua Mountains. I had no idea there were so many trails out here. A return trip is a must!
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1 archive
average hiking speed 2.15 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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