South Fork of Cave Creek

Portal, Arizona

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A long day hike or backpack from South Fork Picnic Area to the Chiricahua Crest trail. The lower canyon is noted for its diversity of both plants and birds, including the rare elegant trogon and the blue-throated hummingbird. The canyon provides spectacular displays of fall color in late October. The trail begins in rich bottomland forest below soaring towers of multicolored rhyolite. Mountain trees such as Chihuahua and ponderosa pines and evergreen oaks mix with water-loving trees such as cypresses and sycamores. As the path ascends the valley, bigtooth maples become prevalent. A scattering of yuccas reminds the traveler that the Chiricahuas are a desert range.

South Fork of Cave Creek Professional Review and Guide

"A long day hike or backpack from South Fork Picnic Area to the Chiricahua Crest trail. The lower canyon is noted for its diversity of both plants and birds, including the rare elegant trogon and the blue-throated hummingbird. The canyon provides spectacular displays of fall color in late October.

The trail begins in rich bottomland forest below soaring towers of multicolored rhyolite. Mountain trees such as Chihuahua and ponderosa pines and evergreen oaks mix with water-loving trees such as cypresses and sycamores. As the path ascends the valley, bigtooth maples become prevalent. A scattering of yuccas reminds the traveler that the Chiricahuas are a desert range."

Activity Type: Backpacking, Hiking
Nearby City: Portal
Distance: 13.6
Elevation Gain: 3,560 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Easy to Difficult
Duration: Backpack or day hike
Season: Year-round (lower); Best March to November (upper)
Trailhead Elevation: 5,300 feet
Top Elevation: 8,830 feet
Local Contacts: Chiricahua Wilderness, Douglas Ranger District, Coronado National Forest
Local Maps: USGS Portal Peak; Trails Illustrated Chiricahua Mountains
Driving Directions: Directions to South Fork of Cave Creek

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May 2018