Snowshed Peak

Portal, Arizona

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A long day hike or backpack from the Cave Creek basin to the Chiricahua Crest trail. As the trail rounds an east-facing slope, travelers can see Portal Peak with its many towers of stone. The trail makes a single set of switchbacks to avoid a rock outcrop, and soon thereafter passes beneath the concrete trough of Deer Spring. A spur trail climbs from the saddle onto the western slopes of Snowshed Peak, bound for the summit. It is faint at first, but gains definition as it zigzags upward through talus and snags. Atop the peak, a growth of Douglas firs and aspens survived the flames to form a forest oasis in the heart of the burn. The trail ends at the summit, where the slopes drop away to the east and charred snags obscure views of Portal Peak. Snowshed Peak was one of the first fire lookout sites in the Chiricahuas, and lookouts used to climb high into a ponderosa pine outfitted with spikes for footholds. From this treetop perch, they kept watch over the surrounding valleys, and reported any signs of smoke or flame.

Snowshed Peak Professional Review and Guide

"A long day hike or backpack from the Cave Creek basin to the Chiricahua Crest trail. As the trail rounds an east-facing slope, travelers can see Portal Peak with its many towers of stone. The trail makes a single set of switchbacks to avoid a rock outcrop, and soon thereafter passes beneath the concrete trough of Deer Spring. A spur trail climbs from the saddle onto the western slopes of Snowshed Peak, bound for the summit. It is faint at first, but gains definition as it zigzags upward through talus and snags.

Atop the peak, a growth of Douglas firs and aspens survived the flames to form a forest oasis in the heart of the burn. The trail ends at the summit, where the slopes drop away to the east and charred snags obscure views of Portal Peak. Snowshed Peak was one of the first fire lookout sites in the Chiricahuas, and lookouts used to climb high into a ponderosa pine outfitted with spikes for footholds. From this treetop perch, they kept watch over the surrounding valleys, and reported any signs of smoke or flame."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Portal
Distance: 12
Elevation Gain: 3,937 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: Backpack or day hike
Season: Best September to November, March to May
Trailhead Elevation: 5,870 feet
Top Elevation: 9,657 feet
Local Contacts: Chiricahua Wilderness, Douglas Ranger District, Coronado National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Chiricahua Peak, Portal Peak; Trails Illustrated Chiricahua Mountains
Driving Directions: Directions to Snowshed Peak

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May 2018