Heart of the Rocks

Willcox, Arizona

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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 the Rocks Professional Review and Guide

"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."

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Willcox
Distance: 6.7
Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: Moderate
Duration: Day hike
Season: Year-round
Trailhead Elevation: 5,200 feet
Top Elevation: 7,000 feet
Local Contacts: Chiricahua National Monument
Local Maps: USGS Cochise Head
Driving Directions: Directions to Heart of the Rocks

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May 2018