Heart of Rocks Loop

Willcox, Arizona

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2 Reviews
5 out of 5
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. Later, a dome-shaped uplift raised this layer of tuff unevenly, and stress fractures called “joints” crept down through the rock in a geometric pattern. These joints provided avenues for storm runoff, and over the centuries erosion dissected the formerly solid sheet of stone into the columns, spires, and hoodoos we see today. Some of these formations have suggestive shapes and have been named by passing travelers. The trail also takes in the upper watershed of Rhyolite Canyon, which is closed to backcountry camping.
Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Hiking Arizona's Cactus Country

by Erik Molvar (Falcon Guides)

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.

Later, a dome-shaped uplift raised this layer of tuff unevenly, and stress fractures called “joints” crept down through the rock in a geometric pattern. These joints provided avenues for storm runoff, and over the centuries erosion dissected the formerly solid sheet of stone into the columns, spires, and hoodoos we see today. Some of these formations have suggestive shapes and have been named by passing travelers. The trail also takes in the upper watershed of Rhyolite Canyon, which is closed to backcountry camping.

©  Erik Molvar/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Willcox
Distance: 8.4
Elevation Gain: 1,405 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: Day hike
Season: Best September to May
Trailhead Elevation: 6,800 feet
Top Elevation: 7,055 feet
Local Contacts: Chiricahua National Monument
Local Maps: USGS Chiricahua National Monument
Driving Directions: Directions to Heart of Rocks Loop

Recent Trail Reviews

6/17/2006
0

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.


6/15/2006
0

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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May 2018