TRIP DATES: April 16-23, 2018
LENGTH: 79 miles
TRAILHEAD(S): Turkey Creek
DIFFICULTY: Experienced on secondary trails, moderate on Crest Trail sections
BEST TIME TO HIKE: October-November or March-June

WATER: Dry year but in April found creeks running or pools: Turkey, Turkey Pen, Rock, Five Mile, Hoovey, Saulsberry, Pole and Cave Creeks. Springs: Avispa (box dry but pools in drainage), Anita, Eagle, Juniper (did not find Deer) Ash, Tub all good.

SOLITUDE TIPS: A few day hikers on Crest Trail near Rustler Park and on trails near campgrounds (Herb Martyr & Sycamore). No hikers in northwest (Turkey Pen, Rock Creek, Witch Ridge, Fife or Hoovey Canyons) or secondary trails (Snowshed, Greenhouse) more than 3 miles from trailheads.

LEAVE NO TRACE: Website  offers camping practices to protect the wilderness. Most advice good but we have not found research to support conventional advice to pack a trowel and dig “cat hole” to bury waste 6 inches. Many decomposing agents in the top layers of soil. Therefore, locate organic soil area often near tree, lift a large rock and/or kick a little deeper, and then cover waste with organic soil or leaf litter before replacing rock(s).


     Lamberton, K. and Garton, J. 2003. The Chiricahuas, Bridging the Borders of Wildness (Desert Places). University of Arizona Press: Tucson. Geology and wildlife.

     Hutton, P. 2017. The Apache Wars: The Hunt for Geronimo, the Apache Kid, and the Captive Boy Who Started the Longest War in American History. Broadway Books (reprint).

HIKING GUIDES: Chiricahua Mountains Hiking Trails. Portal resident Jonathan Pratt has exhaustive on-line hiking guide to Chiricahua trails; most hiked since Horseshoe II fire, so fairly current on trail conditions. Good summary of individual trails but cumbersome for backpack planning.

     Northern Chiricahua Mountains. Coronado National Forest 1995. Shows most trails in the wilderness, monument and adjacent national forest. About one inch-to-mile scale. Predates Horseshoe II fire. Somewhat bulky; okay for trip planning.

     Chiricahua Mountains. Green Trails Map 2015. One inch-to-mile scale; lightweight. Some trails in northwest and south cut off.

TOPGRAPHIC MAPS: USGS 7.5-minute quads (one inch to about 0.4 mile) covering 2018 loop: Chiricahua Peak, Rustler Park, Fife Peak, Portal, Portal Peak. Used Swede Peak in 2015.

GPS: We used Garmin 64st loaded with Garmin’s 1:24,000-scale Southwest map (based on old USGS maps). Without GPS you may get lost and/or spend much time trail finding. Trails on these old maps remarkably accurate but, of course, any changes in last 20-40 years missing.

TRAILS & WATER INFORMATION: Douglas Ranger District, Coronado Forest, USDA Forest Service
(520) 364-3468.

      Books and Green Trails maps can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble or other on-line book outlets. Also can purchase maps at REI (Recreation Inc.), Summit Hut in Tucson and other outdoors stores. Arizona topographic maps are available from Wide World Maps and outlets; We used Lookout Mountain Outdoors, 17232 North Cave Creek Road, Phoenix, AZ. 

Chiricahua Mountains and Douglas Ranger District maps available for walk-ins at Forest Supervisor’s and Ranger District offices, by mail from Regional office and online from National Forest Store. For purchase details see: Also describes apps available for mobile devices.

All maps and GPS based on USGS topographic maps. Because USGS no longer field checks topo maps, neither GPS nor hard copy maps are completely up-to-date on recent trail alignments. If there is conflict between map and trail markers, follow the cairns.

USGS recently “updated” all topographic maps with current satellite imagery; backcountry features like roads and trails were NOT added, so be sure to get “old” maps.