Cochise County High Point Trip Report

Chiricahua Pk (9,759 ft)

Date: October 1, 2000
Author: Ken Akerman

We began this ascent from Long Park, located about 1.5 miles south of the developed campground at Rustler Park in Coronado National Forest. From Chiricahua National Monument, turn south on Forest Road 42 and follow this road as it climbs southeasterly to the crest of the range at Onion Saddle. You can also approach Onion Saddle from the east off of US 80 through Portal. At Onion Saddle, drive south on Forest Road 42D to Rustler Park Campground.

If you have a high-clearance vehicle, take a left at the fork in the road, and follow the road to the unlocked gate at the east side of the Rustler Park Ranger Station. There is a sign in front of the gate that states that the road dead-ends in 2 miles. Drive through this gate until the road dead-ends at Long Park. The actual driving distance is only 1.5 miles, and the road is rough but in good shape for a high-clearance vehicle. We arrived in Long Park on the evening of September 30 and set up camp there.

The trail to Chiricahua Peak and other peaks begins from this point. We used the description in the book "Arizona's Mountains" by Bob and Dotty Martin. The full description is on pages 173-178 of the book, and if you did the entire hike as described by the Martins, you would be able to ascend seven peaks in one day.

The elevation at Long Park is about 9,100 feet, so this is a good starting point to ascend a variety of peaks without making too many steep climbs. We hiked along the Crest Trail to Junction Saddle, where we hiked along an adjoining trail to the summit of Chiricahua Peak. The distance from Long Park to Chiricahua Peak is about 3.5 miles. The summit of Chiricahua Peak is covered with trees, so there is no view from here.

From Chiricahua Peak, we returned to the Crest Trail, then hiked in a southwesterly direction along the trail to Monte Vista Peak (9,340 feet). There is a cabin and lookout tower on this peak. This peak offers excellent scenic views. We returned along the Crest Trail, and while en route back to Long Park we also ascended Paint Rock (9,375 feet) and Flys Peak (9,667 feet). We also made the short hike off the main trail to Alice Park, which is a good place to set up a backcountry camp and provides access to the water source at Alice Spring.

The trails are easy to follow and are well-marked by signs. Chiricahua Peak can therefore be completed by itself as a relatively short and straightforward morning hike, or combined with ascents of other peaks to make a longer full-day hike or weekend backpacking expedition.