Hike through the rock garden of ALL rock gardens. Chiricahua's otherworldly rock formations and hoodoo forests will blow your mind! 

Located in far southeastern Arizona, Chiricahua National Monument is the rock garden of all rock gardens. Although it is a bit out of the way, this hoodoo forest (hoodoo: spires of rock resembling totem poles) is worth a visit. Its unique rock formations are practically otherworldly; it is unlike anything you have seen before. 

There are several trail options ranging from easy to strenuous throughout Chiricahua National Monument. In my opinion, the best route is as outlined below, doable in a day trip format. 

Though you can complete the loop either direction, going the route outlined below (clockwise) will allow you to experience the Echo Canyon Grotto at the end of the hike, which is fitting because it is like the cherry on top to all the other amazing formations you will have hiked through. 

  • Start at Echo Canyon Trailhead (Starting Elevation of 6,780′)
  • Proceed clockwise via the Ed Riggs Trail (380′ Net Elevation Loss)
  • Head to the Mushroom Rock Trail (610′ Net Elevation Gain)
  • Continue on the Big Balanced Rock Trail (150′ Net Elevation Loss)
  • If you have time/energy, a detour onto the Heart of Rocks Loop is worthwhile! This 1.1 mile mini-loop is included in the 8.5 mile total loop distance noted.
  • Take the Sarah Deming Trail to Rhyolite Canyon (880′ Net Elevation Loss)
  • Then head back to the trailhead and Echo Canyon Grotto via the Upper Rhyolite Canyon Trail and Echo Canyon Trail (800′ Net Elevation Gain).

For more information on hiking in the area, check out Jess Curren's post on Camping at Bonita Canyon nearby. For further details on camping with a big group or for more information on Chiricahua National Monument, check out this post. 

Unless you are training for another bigger trip and want to bring along a fully-loaded pack, you will be able to get by just fine on this hike with a day pack. Bring plenty of water and dress in layers, weather appropriate for the forecast/season. This place is a sky island and has been known for some weird/spontaneous weather patterns. 

Pack List

  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Layers
  • Sun protection
  • Sturdy shoes
Show More
RT Distance 8.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 1410 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Loop
Easy Parking
Family Friendly


Leave a Review

Overall rating:  Rate this Adventure

Have you done this adventure? Leave a review!

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Nearby Adventures

More Nearby Adventures

Hike The Big Loop in Chiricahua National Monument

83 Saves

Hike the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail in Chiricahua National Monument

37 Saves

Camp at Chiricahua National Monument's Bonita Canyon

196 Saves