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Day Hiking Chiricahua National Monument


Aaron Zagrodnick
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Aaron Zagrodnick

My neck starts to ping. Craning upwards, gawking at a voodoo skyline of contorting rhyolite pillars, I intake neon moss splattered columns, pinnacles and balanced rocks rising vertically thirty feet overhead. Parallel rows of washboard ripples climb the volcanic gray façades, offering weather-beaten toeholds like primordial ladders to heaven. Giant eroded stone walls conjure fantastic shapes. Canoodling lovers. The hull of a wrecked pirate ship. Baymax from Disney’s Big Hero 6. The landscape is otherworldly, and I have all 17 miles of well-maintained trails to myself. Welcome to southeast Arizona’s isolated and enchanting Chiricahua National Monument. It’s Thursday around 6:30 a.m., and I embark on Ed Riggs trail from Massai Point’s empty parking lot at 6,870 feet. A gray fox trots on the side of the trail in front of me, sleek, unhurried, and runs to the top of a slanted boulder three yards away, staring into my eyes with startling confidence...

@Daniel Anderson Jr shares this story of a scenic hike in southern Arizona - take a look in Issue 32:

Day Hiking Chiricahua

Day Hiking in Chiricahua National Monument.JPG

Issue 32 Page 1

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Mark Wetherington

I really enjoyed reading this piece and looking at the pictures.

I backpacked in the adjacent Chiricahua Wilderness in 2011 and really regret not making it a priority to explore the Chiricahua National Monument before or after the trip. We did get a decent view towards the monument while hiking on the Chiricahua Crest Trail (center-right of photo):

5540493211_c6ba7aa130_z.jpg

Like you said, the area is definitely "isolated and enchanting"! We only saw 4 other hikers in 5 days in mid-March. A few months later a forest fire (Horseshoe 2) came through and burned pretty much everywhere we hiked. Since it was my first trip out West it holds a special place in my heart -- hoping to make it down there for a trip again and I will definitely not be passing up the national monument this time around.

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Looks like some amazing terrain and thanks for the read Daniel! Between the monument, wilderness, and everything in between looks like this could be a great area to explore.

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