This loop hike combines some of the most scenic trails in Chiricahua National Monument into one epic adventure, passing through fantastic formations and views of wildly shaped rock spires.
The hike 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.
No fee is charged to enter Chiricahua National Monument.
Begin at the Echo Canyon Parking Area. After a short distance, turn left on the Ed Riggs Trail
. Descend 0.2 miles to the trail to Massai Point; continue right. The trail works its way along the side of the valley for the next 0.7 miles. As the trail approaches the one-mile point, views begin to open up of spires, a taste of what's to come.
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
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.
Ed and Lillian Riggs ran a dude ranch down canyon, often taking visitors on horseback rides through these spires, including along some of these trails. After visiting the ranch, the location was used as the setting of a number of books, including early western mystery fiction.