Monday, 5 April 2010

Natural Arch Trail, Chiricahua National Monument

Yesterday we took a drive out to Chiricahua National Monument the Chiricahua Apache called the rock pinnacles in the monument ‘standing up rocks’. It’s a beautiful place a sky island rising high above the desert, a place filled with sunlit meadows and woodlands containing sycamore and oak further down and juniper and pine trees at higher elevations. Naturally it’s also the home of bears, cougars and last but not least rattlesnakes!

We parked in the small parking area on Bonita Canyon drive, we were the first vehicle there, so needless to say with bears and cougars about I was going through my usual are you sure this is a good idea routine. Somehow when there are signs like this at the trailhead I always feel better if there is someone hiking ahead of us. Don't ask me why, unless it's that I think if there's something hungry out there it might get them first!

We crossed Bonita Creek and set off through the forest on the first part of the trail, it’s a clear easy to follow trail, but very, steep.

The first section of the trail trail was dappled in shade and nice and cool, but as soon as we got higher and out of the tree line it was hot and dusty. If you look closely at the picture below you can see just how steep the trail is.

We climbed up on top of the butte which had spectacular views through the mountains right across Sulphur Springs Valley.

I am a slow walker, so part way up another couple went past us with their dog, which surprised me as I didn’t think dogs were allowed on trails in National Parks or National Monuments.

After a fairly level section across the red rocks

the trail started to descend again, this time into a juniper and pine covered woodland. The trail was covered in pine needles and made for nice soft walking. In this section of the woods there are Apache pines which have pine needles 12 - 15 inches long and were used to make fence posts.

It is a beautiful area and very peaceful, just the sort of place you could imagine someone homesteading, although I imagine it would be pretty cold in the winter.

We followed the trail through the woods, along a couple of stream beds before climbing the final section to the Natural Arch. The trail ends facing the arch across a small narrow valley, you can’t actually get to it and among all the rocks the arch is a little difficult to see. If you look very closely it is near the top of the photograph, in the middle.
It’s a very pleasant spot the people who had passed us earlier were there so we chatted to them for a while before they headed back, leaving us on our own to enjoy the hot sunshine and the view.

As we headed back we met quite a few people coming up the trail and I have to say the return journey was much easier.

Back at the truck we headed up to Masai Point to check out the view and decide which hike to do next.

Have fun, we are!

No comments:

Post a Comment