Heart of Rocks Loop

Willcox, Arizona 85643

Heart of Rocks Loop

Heart of Rocks Loop Professional Review and Guide

"A day loop through the head of Rhyolite Canyon, 8.4 miles round trip. This popular route makes a long day loop, visiting the most spectacular rock formations in Chiricahua National Monument. These formations were once a giant bed of superheated ash spewed forth from a caldera in the heart of the Chiricahua Mountains about 25 million years ago. The ash solidified into a rock called “welded tuff” as it cooled, with bands of varying widths marking different eruptions.

From the Echo Canyon Trailhead, follow a marked footpath east toward Massai Point. This area was named for the Apache warrior Bigfoot Massai, who escaped from an Oklahoma reservation by jumping a train in Kansas."

More Heart of Rocks Loop Professional Reviews and Guides

"Revealing some of the most interesting geological formations that Chiricahua National Monument has to offer is the Heart of Rocks area. Punch and Judy, Pinnacle Balanced Rock, and Duck on a Rock are but three of several aptly named formations found within this vast garden of naturally created statuary.

In reaching the Heart of Rocks, this hike also reveals some interesting plant communities within Rhyolite and Sarah Deming canyons."

"A classic loop through the volcanic hoodoos of Chiricahua National Monument, the hike starts from the Massai Point Trailhead and uses the southern portion of the Echo Canyon Trail to reach Rhyolite Canyon.

Then, the loop follows the Heart of Rocks Trail up Sarah Deming Canyon and into Heart of Rocks itself. A side trail leads to Inspiration Point and a view of upper Rhyolite Canyon. The route finishes with the remainder of the Heart of Rocks Trail and the eastern section of the Echo Canyon Trail."

"This trail takes you to a strange area of balanced rocks and abundant wildlife in Chiricahua National Monument. The Heart of the Rocks Loop features the most massive balanced rock in the monument, as well as rock caricatures of people and animals. There are sweeping views of Sulphur Springs Valley, Cochise Head, and the Chiricahua Mountains.

The story behind this fantastic collection of rocks is not completely understood, but geologists believe that about 27 million years ago, violent volcanic eruptions spewed red-hot pumice and ash over a 1,200-square-mile area. The hot particles became “welded” together to form an 800-foot-thick layer of tuff with a composition of rhyolite. As cooling took place, the tuff contracted and vertical cracks (joints) formed. The extent and thickness of this deposit indicates eruptions substantially greater than the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980."

Heart of Rocks Loop Reviews

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Echo Canyon to Sarah Deming to Heart of Rocks to Balanced Rock and back up: light, easy trail with few steep inclines or declines. Did the eight miles in four hours with no problem.
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Great trail! I hiked a portion of the trail with my daughter last August then made the full loop with my sister this trip. Well worth your day! Pack a lunch and be sure to take lots of water. I had not noticed the hailstones on my first trip through with my daughter. After reading this review we were amazed to see them and read of how they are formed. Inspiration point is well worth the extra little walk...it is a fairly level walk with lots of wind to cool you off.

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Trail Information

Nearby City
1,405 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Skill Level
Best September to May
USGS Chiricahua National Monument
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Oct 2018