2015 AH Classic Wall CalendarShop the AH Store >>

Our 2015 calendars are now available!

Classic Wall Calendar

CL15 $10.99

Our classic 13-month spiral-bound calendar features 30 full-color photographs and a handy map of Arizona on the back.

Order Now >>
Purchase Camping GuideShop the AH Store >>

Featured Book

Arizona Highways
Camping Guide

AGCS3 $22.95

Our newest book, which includes Arizona Highways iconic photography and maps, is sorted by region and is written for car-campers and families. Detailed information about accessibilty, amenities and fees is included for each campground.

Order Now >>
2011 AH Wildlife CalendarSee Selection of Images >>

Featured Prints

Poster Prints
Special Edition Prints

Many of the extraordinary images found in our award-winning magazine, scenic coffee-table books and exquisite calendars can be purchased as fine posters and prints.

Order Now >>
Shop the AH Store >>

Featured Gift Item

Centennial Issue Reprint

SPCENN2 $4.99

If you missed our February 100-page Centennial Issue on newsstands earlier this year, here's your second chance to get a copy of this special collector's edition of Arizona Highways magazine..

Order Now >>

  • print page
  • Tell a Friend
  • Post to Facebook
  • YouTube
  • past to del.icio.us
BULLEThiking archive
Hike of the Month Photo
The Echo Canyon Loop passes through grottoes where dangerous drop-offs should be avoided, and features a good view of Cochise Head.

© Les David Menevitz

>> Click on image to view
it larger in a separate window.

Editor's Note click to expand
Arizona Hiking Guide Book

Our newest book, Arizona Highways Hiking Guide, is now available and features 52 of Arizona's best day hikes for winter, spring, summer and fall.

To order, call 800-543-5432
or visit our online store.

Echo Canyon Loop
If you'd like to hike in the Chiricahuas, this trail offers a great introduction.

By Robert Stieve

Walking in circles is usually discouraged, but not when it comes to hikes. Loop hikes are great because they're typically easy to follow and you never have to retrace your steps. Echo Canyon Loop is no exception. Like most loops, there's no right or wrong approach to this trail. That said, most hikers opt for the counterclockwise route because it's a little easier. But really, there's nothing difficult about this trail, other than the challenge of coming up with enough adjectives to describe what is surely one of the most geologically unique trails in Arizona.

Whichever way you go, clockwise or counter­clockwise, you'll have to navigate four trail junctions along the way. Although this is a loop, it's connected to most of the other trails in the Chiricahua National Monument, and as you'll see, it's easy to get distracted in this wonderland of lichen-covered hoodoos.

From the trailhead, the counterclockwise route hits its first junction almost immediately. You'll see a sign that points toward the "Grottoes." Head that direction, but before you split, turn around and take a gander at the enormous rock formation in the distance, known as Co­- chise Head. If you use your imagination, it looks as if the renowned Apache chief is lying on his back and looking up toward the sky.

Heading downhill, you'll arrive at the grottoes in a matter of minutes. Although these passageways invite exploration, it's important that you stay on the trail, not only because of the Leave-No-Trace Principles, but also because there are several dangerous drop-offs within the grottoes. It's even more dangerous when it's wet, which is often the case in the spring.

Just beyond the grottoes is Echo Park, a lush cove dominated by Apache pines, Douglas firs and Arizona cypress. You shouldn't be tired at this point, but if the breathtaking beauty is taking a toll, this is a great place to kick back and take a break. In addition to the trees and the other greenery, there's an unexpected stream that runs through this little Eden in the winter and spring. There are even a few waterfalls that'll trick you into thinking you're somewhere else. Perhaps somewhere in North Carolina.

The next segment of the loop heads into Rhyolite Canyon along the Hailstone Trail. It's drier and hotter along this stretch, which skirts the south-facing wall of the canyon for just under a mile. After a mile, a third junction connects the Hailstone Trail to the Ed Riggs Trail. This is where the only workout on the route begins. This hike is rated as Moderate, and could almost earn an Easy rating, but along Ed Riggs there's an uphill climb that'll get your attention. It's nothing like the switches on the North Kaibab Trail, but it's uphill all the way back to the trailhead. That, of course, completes the loop; however, if you have the time, you might want to make a detour at the loop's fourth intersection, which shows up about an hour and a half into the hike.

The side trip leads to Massai Point, where the CCC built a wonderful lookout tower that offers long views of most of the monument and beyond. Although the trek to Massai Point adds about a half-mile total to the Echo Canyon Loop, the views from the top are well worth the extra steps. Besides, on a trail where walking in circles is OK, there's certainly nothing wrong with getting sidetracked, as well.

Trail Guideclick to expand

Map of Area Length: 3.5 miles round-trip

Difficulty: Moderate

Elevation: 6,784 to 6,330 feet

Directions: The trailhead is located at the Echo Canyon Trail Parking Area, 5.5 miles past the Chiricahua National Monument visitors center on Bonita Canyon Drive.

Vehicle Requirements: None

Dogs Allowed: No

USGS Map: Cochise Head

Information: Chiricahua National Monument, 520-824-3560 or www.nps.gov/chir

Leave No Trace Ethics:
  • Plan ahead and be prepared.
  • Travel and camp on durable surfaces.
  • Dispose of waste properly and pack out your trash.
  • Leave what you find.
  • Respect wildlife and minimize impact.
  • Be considerate of others.
  • >> Visit Hiking Archive

    Story ArchivesFind previously published stories online... [more]

    Global SnapshotsSend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]

    Photo of the DaySend us a photo of you or someone you know posing with Arizona Highways. We'll post it on our website. It's that simple... [more]


    Social MediaJoin our Facebook, Twitter and Flickr communities for behind-the-scenes glimpses at Arizona Highways... [more]

    Events & PromotionsEscape, experience and explore Arizona, one event at a time... [more]

    Best of AZ50 of our favorite things around the state, including photography, nature, dining, adventure, lodging... [more]

    site map  |  terms of use  |  privacy policy  |  corporate sales  |  about us  |  contact us

    Arizona Highways Television AZ Dept. of Transportation AZ Dept. of Public Safety Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

    © Copyright 2014 Arizona Department of Transportation, State of Arizona. All rights reserved. Reproduction in part or whole without written permission from the publisher is prohibited. The images on this Web site are copyrighted, digitally watermarked and registered with the Digimarc tracking system. All rights reserved. Copying and downloading images from this site are strictly prohibited.