Chiricahua Canyon Big Loop
ElevationAscent: 1,731' 528 m
Descent: -1,731' -528 m
High: 7,037' 2,145 m
Low: 5,862' 1,787 m
GradeAvg Grade: 8% (4°)
Max Grade: 44% (24°)
“An epic loop run through the fantastic formations of Chiricahua National Monument.”— Anne Travels
The run begins by descending into the canyon, then working its way into the heart of the rock formations, featuring the famed water-cooler-like Big Balanced Rock, among other named and unnamed rock formations. It then descends further into the canyon to rise through Upper Rhyolite Canyon and Echo Canyon, including Wall Street and more rock formations, back to the parking area.
At mile 0.9, arrive at the Hailstone Trail / Ed Riggs Trail / Mushroom Rock Trail junction. Turn left on the Mushroom Rock Trail, meandering through the forest past Mushroom Rock - though the views are better from the trail before the sign indicating the formation.
After about 0.75 miles, the trail will enter a section of burned forest, continuing over low, rolling hills 1.25 miles from the Ed Riggs / Hailstone Trail junction to the trail junction with the Big Balanced Rock Trail (left / straight) and the Inspiration Point Trail (right; 1 mile RT to a viewpoint over the canyon and spires).
Continue straight on the Big Balanced Rock Trail through more burned forest. Views open up of the Chiricahua Mountains, craggy hills, and the plains of Arizona. Further along the trail, more spires (looking like oddly-shaped pieces of art) appear in peek-a-boo views.
After 1.0 mile, the Big Balanced Rock comes into view on the left, a massive rock reminiscent of an enormous water cooler. You are now in the Heart of Rocks.
Continue a short distance to the junction with the Heart of Rocks Loop and Sarah Deming Trail. Turn right to access the Heart of Rocks Loop; turn left at the loop junction and enjoy the formations: Pinnacle Rock, Old Maid, Camel's Head, Thor's Hammer, Duck on a Rock, Kissing Rocks, views across hundreds of spires, and more. The trail is never difficult to follow, but at times crosses bare rock and an occasional short scramble is required.
Return to the loop junction at mile 0.7; turn left then right to access the Sarah Deming Trail, which descends through spires, rocks, crevices, forest, and views to the Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail and Lower Rhyolite Canyon Trail 1.6 miles later. Turn right on the Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail as it ascends the canyon through fantastic views of wildly shaped spires. After 1.1 miles, turn left at the Hailstone Trail / Echo Canyon Trail junction.
Continue climbing upward through the fantastic spires to Echo Canyon and Wall Street, then through more spires, never at a loss for oddly shaped rocks. Almost 1.7 miles from the junction, turn left to return to the parking area.
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Land Manager: NPS - Chiricahua National Monument