Click here to view our slideshow from the hike.

The Chiricahua National Monument is a spectacular hiking area. “Chiricahua”, Apache for “standing up rocks”, is aptly named. The spectacular rhyolite stone pinnacles, thought to have been formed by ancient volcanoes, fill the park.

Today was our third time hiking the trails. In 2004, we climbed to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, one of the highest peaks accessible, only 1.8 miles round trip, but considered a moderate climb due to its elevation of 7,310 feet. In 2006, with friends J.D. and Laura, we explored Echo Canyon, a 3.3 mile loop.

Today, we chose to hike from the summit of Echo Canyon to the Visitor Center, a 4.3 mile hike, but mostly downhill. A park shuttle picked us up at the Visitor Center at 8:30 a.m., along with 6 other hikers. He drove us to the Echo Canyon Parking Lot, at 6780 feet elevation. The forecast was sunny, but windy. We were hoping to be sheltered from the wind a little by the canyon walls, and we were not disappointed. There was just enough wind to keep us from being hot in the mid 70’s temperatures.

It was a great hike, full of scenic postcard views. The other hikers soon left us behind, as I paused repeatedly to take more photos. Although the park cautions you may encounter black bear, mountain lion or rattlesnakes, we saw nothing larger than a skink.

A rock ledge at the bottom of the canyon provided the ideal spot for our picnic lunch.

We hiked among cypress, pine and fir, and then as we worked our way lower in elevation, encountered sycamore, juniper and oak, and finally near the visitor center, cactus and mesquite.

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our day, exploring the depths of the Chiricahuas.

From here, we’ll move on to Deming, NM tomorrow.