2105
Willcox
Arizona for the Hiker’s Hiker: Trekking the Chiricahua Mountains
Go off the beaten path and explore the Chiricahua Mountains, where you’ll hike alongside experts and learn about native wildlife, ancient geology and the region’s frontier story.
Program No. 2105RJ
Length
7 days
Starts at
1,349
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7 days
6 nights
18 meals
6 B 6 L 6 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Willcox, AZ
D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Dinner: DINNER served at 6:00 PM at a local dining facility. Participants will be transported as a group from the Hotel to the local dining facility. The group's first meal will be catered and the facility is family owned. The food will be nutritious and freshly prepared.

Evening: ORIENTATION at the restaurant following dinner.This will be a time to review the week's activity, answer any questions, learn about emergency procedures and have a formal welcome from staff. We are prepared for a week of great fun, memorable hikes and some great lecture programs.

DAY
2
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Willcox, AZ
B,L,D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Activity note: Apache Pass is a guided hike describing historical events of the area surrounding this once important military outpost. During the 1860s-80s, Apache war parties terrorized SE AZ. Round trip loop trail of four miles with elevation gain and loss of 900 ft.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM BREAKFAST served at Willcox Holiday Inn. Begin the day with a hearty breakfast. Participants will have a number of choices of healthy breakfast foods and beverages. Immediately following breakfast vans will transport participants to the scenic Chiricahua Mountains for a day of hiking.

Morning: HIKE FORT BOWIE PARK to trailhead. A Park Ranger will lead the group on a tour of Fort Bowie. Learn about the lonely isolation that the soldiers experienced while stationed at Fort Bowie. The two hour hike from Fort Bowie to the trailhead will take us past the original Fort, Apache Springs, the Chiricahua Apache Indian Agency, an Apache Wickiup, the post cemetary and the remains of a Butterfield Stage Coach Station. LECTURE on "The History of Apache Pass & Apache Springs" will be presented prior to commensing the Fort Bowie Tour and hike to the trailhead. The history of Apache Pass (named after the Apache Indians) began with the spring—it was a watering place in the harsh desert of what became southern Arizona. Indigenous peoples were dependant for their survival on regular access to water holes, so the spring at Apache Pass was a natural stopping place. The modern history of Apache Pass began with the great Apache leader Cochise, who, along with many of his followers, favored the area around the spring as a camping spot in winter and spring.

Lunch: TRAIL LUNCH. Take in the unique beauty of the area while enjoying a nutrious trail lunch prepared at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: TAKE A WALKING TOUR of Historic Downtown Willcox. Visit the Rex Allen Museum and the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Stroll down historic Railroad Avenue and on the corner you’ll come across another old adobe building, The Willcox Commercial. Built in the early 1880s, it is the oldest continually operating store in Arizona. When Geronimo had a craving for sweets, he went to the Willcox Commercial to buy his sugar. He didn’t trust the white men but he knew how much a pound felt and before purchasing the sugar, he would balance it in his hand to feel the weight of it. Geronimo was determined not to let any clerk cheat him.

Dinner: 5:30 PM DINNER served at local restaurant. Tonight the group will have the opportunity to experience more of the local cuisine.

Evening: 7:15 PM Return to the Hotel.

DAY
3
Visit Maple Camp on South Fork in the Chiricahua Mountains
Willcox, AZ
B,L,D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Activity note: South Fork Trail follows a stream bed that is lined with Cut Leaf Maples. Round trip distance is six miles with elevation gan and loss of 800 - 1000 feet.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM BREAKFAST served at Willcox Holiday Inn. You will have a choice of a number of healthy and nutritious breakfast items.

Morning: HIKE TO PORTAL/CAVE CREEK CANYON. A beautiful area, Cave Creek Canyon on the eastern slope of the Chiricahua Mountains is home to a varied selection of flora and fauna. There will be a guided hike on Silver Peak Trail. Silver Peak (roughly 8000 feet) is a good introduction, gets you out of the heat, and is has excellent summit views. This hike is in the Eastern part of the range, in the Portal/Cave Creek Canyon area. The trail is a little overgrown in places, but always easy to follow. Not much cover on the lower half so make sure to cover up and bring plenty of water.

Lunch: TRAIL LUNCH - Take in the majestic beauty of the area while enjoying the nutriious trail lunch prepared by a local restaurant.

Afternoon: HIKE CONTINUES IN CAVE CREEK CANYON. The Chiricahua Mountains of Southeastern Arizona rise from the desert floor to an elevation of nearly ten thousand feet. This fascinating area offers magnificent views of beautiful vistas, imposing canyon walls, and mysterious caves. There will be an afternoon visit to the Chiricahua Desert Museum. The Museum has a giant art collection and state of the art reptile exhibits, some rare and endangered. The Museum offers a 20,000 square foot Bontanical Garden and Wildlife Sanctuary, featuring a recirculating waterfall, river and a hugh pond.

Dinner: 6:00 PM DINNER served at a local restaurant. Tonight the group will enjoy more of the local cuisine.

Evening: Bill Cavaliere, Cochise County Historian, will present a lecture and video about the area.

DAY
4
Visit Cochise Stronghold and afternoon geology lecture.
Willcox, AZ
B,L,D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Activity note: The trail follows the route into the Dragoon Mountains used by Cochise to hide and protect his people from other warring tribes and the U.S. Army. Round trip is 6 miles with elevation gain and loss of 1100 feet.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM BREAKFAST served at Willcox Holiday Inn. Enjoy an early breakfast with a choice of many tasty nutritious foods. Depart Hotel for a hike in the Chiricahua Mountains.

Morning: HIKE COCHISE STRONGHOLD TRAIL to VALLEY VIEW. Within the Stronghold is a hiking trail that goes from the East Cochise Stronghold Campground, over the "Stronghold Divide" and down into the West Stronghold Canyon. This trail was originally an Indian trail and is approximately 4 miles long one way. As you hike the trail listen to the whispers of those from long ago and enjoy the superb views of the canyon.

Lunch: TRAIL LUNCH Imagine those who walked these trails in years past as you relax and enjoy the lunch trail lunch prepared by a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Tour the Amerind Museum early in the afternoon (3 p.m.) Founded in 1937 by William Shirley Fulton, the Amerind Foundation is a private nonprofit anthropological and archaeological museum and research center dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Native American cultures and their histories. Located in spectacular Texas Canyon in the Little Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona, the Amerind houses one of the finest private collections of Native American art and artifacts in the country. Following the Amerind tour, there will be a lecture on the "Geology of Texas Canyon" presented by Geologist Fellows.

Dinner: 6:00 PM DINNER at a local restaurant. We have had a busy few days so it will be nice to have a relaxing dinner and enjoy more local cuisine. Set back, enjoy the feast and company of your new friends.

Evening: 7:30 PM Relax and enjoy the remainder of the evening. It has been a busy day so rest will be welcomed.

DAY
5
Hike the Lady Bug Trail in the Pinaleno Mountains.
Willcox, AZ
B,L,D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Breakfast: 7:00 AM BREAKFAST SERVED at Willcox Holiday Inn. Choose from a number of tasty and nutritious breakfast foods.

Morning: Board van for a field trip to Pinaleno Mountains and a guided hike on Lady Bug Trail. This trail gets its unique name from the fact that it starts near Ladybug Peak, a place where large numbers of these small, orange-colored, black-spotted beetles congregate at various times of the year. In addition to this interesting feature, Ladybug Trail has a number of other notable aspects which make it well worth a visit. For one thing, it’s a good place to see black bear sign or even to catch a glimpse of one of these impressive animals.

Lunch: Enjoy a trail lunch in this scenic area.

Afternoon: Early afternoon the vans will depart to Safford, AZ. Before dinner there will be a presentation on the History of the Gila Valley.

Dinner: Tonight dinner will be served at a favorite local dining area in Safford. Following dinner the group will return to the Hotel, arriving about 8 p.m.

DAY
6
Hike Heart of Rocks Trail or Sugar Loaf Trail with Sidetrips
Willcox, AZ
B,L,D
Holiday Inn - Willcox

Activity note: Participants may hike the Heart of Rocks Trail (7.5 miles) with an elevation gain of 880 ft. or choose the shorter Sugar Loaf Trail (2.5 mile) hikethat is one of the highest points in the Monument.

Breakfast: 7:00 AM BREAKFAST served at Willcox Holiday Inn. Your choice of a number of tasty and healthy breakfast foods.

Morning: HIKE OPTIONS: HEART OF ROCKS TRAIL (7.5 miles) OR SUGAR LOAF TRAIL(2.5 miles) The Heart of Rocks is a huge badland of fanciful rock formations. The trail cuts through the badland in almost maze-like fashion taking convoluted twists and turns through narrow slots and openings in the rocks. The entire loop provides a wide variety of terrains. Hike through quiet, shaded valleys, deep in woods and pass open plateaus with the "big" views. The elevation of the trails range from 5,980 feet to 7,010 feet. The entire trail system is within the Chiricahua Wilderness Area and is therefore pristine. There are no impacts from grazing or logging. No evidence of civilization besides the trail and the signs. Notice the silence, except for the occasional (and inevitable) plane, the occasional call of a bird. The Heart of Rocks trail begins eight miles from the park entrance at Massai Point. A mile-long descent from the trailhead takes you into a deep, shaded canyon. Creek beds trickle with running water in the spring, but remain dry much of the time after June. Cross through the Pygmy Forest, so named for the short, stumpy Chihuahua pine and Arizona cypress that grow in the shallow, rocky soil. Lack of moisture contributes to the stunted growth of the trees, which look more like big pine bushes, with branches that grow sideways instead of up. Leave the main trail just beyond Big Balanced Rock for a short side trip into the Heart of Rocks area. Here, the hike begins to take on the feel of an outdoor museum. Follow the footprints painted on the path alongside strange and wonderful rock formations. The way back to Massai Point is much quicker - almost all downhill except for the last mile climbing out of the canyon.

Lunch: TRAIL LUNCH - enjoy the spectacular view as you relax and enjoy the trail lunch prepared by a local restaurant.

Afternoon: SUGAR LOAF TRAIL Hike - Sitting atop the heart of Chiricahua National Monument is 7310 foot Sugarloaf Mountain. This prominent peak, which stands in a sea of volcanic hoodoos, can be seen for miles. This short hike provides sweeping views of the Monument and surrounding areas. The Sugarloaf Mountain Trail passes through a short tunnel that was blasted through the cemented volcanic ash of an ancient hoodoo. Beyond the tunnel, the trail traverses a steep slope covered in angular boulders, broken off from the low cliffs above the trail. Soon the trail rounds the mountain to the drier, southern slope. The Heart Of Rocks area comes into view now, amid the manzanitas, yuccas, and plentiful beargrass. On the southern horizon, the rolling, green, 9000 foot summits of the Chiricahua peaks form a backdrop against the Monument's countless rock totem poles. The mosaic pattern from 1994's Rattlesnake Fire is clearly visible among the peaks. The trail now makes a switchback here, and plows through a row of manzanita bushes, before arriving on the northeast corner of the windswept summit. The historic one room fire lookout, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930's, greets you here. Roam around the mountain top, and take in the 360 degree views. From the top of Sugarloaf Mountain view the Bonita Canyon watershed, Cochise Head, and the Dos Cabezas Range to the north. Massai Point, where the CCC built a wonderful lookout tower that offers long views of most of the monument and beyond. The views from the top are spectacular. The shorter hike is 4.2 miles and mostly downhill.

Dinner: 6.00 PM DINNER will be catered at a local dining facility. Enjoy a special meal tonight.

Evening: Peter Gierlach, Naturalist, will present an evening lecture following dinner.

DAY
7
Guided hike on a Nature Trail at Muleshoe Ranch.
Willcox, AZ
B,L

Activity note: This is a Nature Trail walk. An opportunity to observe yet another of Arizona's spots of unique beauty.

Breakfast: 8:00 AM BREAKFAST SERVED at Holiday Inn. Enjoy a relaxed nuitrious breakfast.

Morning: The Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management Area is 49,120 acres of rugged beauty, lush riparian areas and an array of recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts

Lunch: Box lunches will be available to take with you. The program week of stellar hikes, majestic scenery, interesting lectures and fun entertainment and comradarie concludes after lunch. Thank you for joining Geronimo Educational Travel Studies LLC and Road Scholar for a learning adventure. We hope to see you again soon.