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Matt Hage Wednesday, 28 December 2011 07:33 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Linking Labrinths - Page 3

Trailhead

Getting There. Located 120 miles southeast of Tucson off Interstate 10. Turn off at the town of Wilcox, take Highway 186 for 35 miles to Highway 181 and head five miles east to the park entrance.

Seasons. Like most of southeast Arizona, summer is suited only for Gila monsters and rattlesnakes. The best season is early spring and late fall when 70-degree temps are the norm. Winter is fickle as warm, sunny days can quickly turn bitter cold with a brisk wind. Afternoon thunderstorms are common July through September.

Permits. The entry fee charged at the gate is $5 per visitor and is good for seven days. Camping is available at the Bonita Canyon Campground; tent sites are $12 per night. Water is available in the campground. A free shuttle is offered between trailheads; check the visitor's center for a current schedule.

More Info.www.nps.gov/chir; 520-824-3560.

 

Seeking Balance in the Chiricahuas

The Park's three best running trails begin at the Echo Canyon Trailhead (6780 feet) near the top end of Bonita Canyon Road. All are well signed at the junctions with directions and miles.

:: Echo Canyon Loop (3.3 miles). Best 5K ever! Start with a left turn that leads to the Massai Point Nature Trail, which quickly meets a pine-forested canyon sprinkled with the occasional spire on the Ed Riggs Trail. Continue the route clockwise on the Hailstone Trail. The final 1.6-mile section weaves around rock formations and into deep tunnel-carved grottos.

:: Heart of Rocks Loop (8.5 miles). Head down the Ed Riggs Trail about a mile then turn left onto the Mushroom Rock Trail in Hunt Canyon. Climb through the spire-lined canyon to just over 7000 feet to the Big Balanced Rock Trail. Turn right into the Heart of Rocks, a one-mile side loop through so many balanced rocks you may fall over from rubber-necking. Back on the main trail, head down into Sarah Deming Canyon to the junction at Rhyolite Canyon Trail. From there it is a spectacular 2.5-mile climb back to Echo Canyon Trailhead. Or you can hang a left for a breezy downhill to the visitor center for a 7.5-mile point to point.

:: Rhyolite Canyon Downhill (6.5 miles). Park your rig at the lower end of this downhill cruise, the Bonita Creek Picnic Area, then take the morning shuttle service to Echo Canyon Trailhead. Follow the maze of grottos and spires until you reach Rhyolite Canyon Trail. Fly down through the pine forests to the visitor center and across the street to Silver Spur Meadow Trail. You'll run through the front yards of Stafford Cabin and Faraway Ranch, historic leftovers from the canyon's first white settlers. Continue along Sonita Creek Trail to the parking lot 2000 feet below your starting point. For a serious lung-buster, return the way you came.

The traveling photo duo of Matt Hage and Agnes Stowe eavesdrop on locals to find hidden trail-running gems, and split their time between Anchorage, Alaska, and Oregon's Willamette Valley.



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