Heart of Rocks (Chiricahua National Monument) 21-Jan-2023

After visiting Fort Bowie, we spent the night at the Arizona Sunset Inn in nearby Willcox. Today, we set off to hike through the inner depths of some of the rock formations in Chiricahua National Monument. The LovedOne had never visited this monument; my one and only visit had been sometime in the mid-1970s. So it was essentially new to the both of us.

We started our hike at the Echo Canyon Trailhead at the end of Bonita Canyon Drive. A cold front was sweeping through Arizona today and up here at 6,780 feet (2,066 m) it was clear and sunny but cold (26โ„‰ / -3.3โ„ƒ). Not cold by Minnesota standards, but still bracing.

We started down into Upper Rhyolite Canyon on the Ed Riggs Trail. We had been told to expect some snow and ice along the trails and that was certainly true – particularly wherever the trail was shaded.

At the trailhead
On the Ed Riggs Trail
Pinnacles above the trail
A pinnacle in the sun

The Ed Riggs Trail took us down to a junction with the Mushroom Rock Trail. We followed that trail up Hunt Canyon to its junction with the Inspiration Point and Big Balanced Rock Trails. We passed on going out to the Point for inspiration in favor of continuing on to see the Big Balanced.

Starting up Hunt Canyon
More cold
Exiting Hunt Canyon
View to the south from the Big Balanced Rock Trail
Walking on ice – that’s not Big Balanced ahead
This is Big Balanced Rock

Big Balanced is 22 feet (6.7 m) in diameter, 25 feet (7.6 m) high, and weighs 1,000 tons (907.2 mt). Just past it is the junction with the Heart of Rocks Loop Trail. We turned here and began the loop. The Heart of Rocks holds several whimsically named rock towers, identified with signs.

Starting the Heart of Rocks Loop
Pinnacle Balanced Rock
Camel Rock (center)
Duck on a Rock
Kissing Rocks
An icy squeeze on the way out

From Heart of Rocks, we took the Sarah Deming Trail into shady, cold, and icy Sarah Deming Canyon (probably a good place to be on a hike in summer) and went on down to its junction with the Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail. We followed that trail up-canyon to a junction with the Hailstone and Echo Canyon Trails.

Into Sarah Deming Canyon
In the forest where the trail cross the creek
Maneuvering around icicles and across ice on the Sarah Deming Trail
Now you try it…
Under towers along the Sarah Deming
On the Upper Rhyolite Trail
Crossing Upper Rhyolite Creek

At the Hailstone and Echo Canyon Trail junction, either right or left would have taken us to the Echo Canyon Trailhead. It’s the same distance and gain either way. The classic return is via Echo Canyon, so, of course, we opted to return via the Hailstone.

On the Hailstone Trail
Rock towers above the Hailstone
Some towers are actually blades
Back up the Ed Riggs Trail to the trailhead

Our loop came to 8.1 miles (13.1 km) with (thanks to climbing in and out of deep canyons) a cumulative gain of 1,800 feet (549 m). It was slower going than expected due to being extra careful on the ice and snow and by all our gawking at the scenery and the towers. Regardless, we had a great day among the rocks in the heart of the Monument! ๐Ÿ˜

Our loop through the towering center of the Monument (H = Heart of Rocks Loop)

2 thoughts on “Heart of Rocks (Chiricahua National Monument) 21-Jan-2023

  1. Thanks! We usually made a visit to Arizona even when we lived in Oregon. This year, we did enjoy our brief break from hiking without 6 layers of clothing or snowshoes. ๐Ÿ˜‰


  2. Thanks for sharing: Looks like quite a change from your Minnesota winter hikes ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Enjoyed your posts and photos ( as always


Comments are closed.

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: